Ben Lerner: Leaving the Atocha Station. Funny, mordant look at an artist who develops in spite of himself during a hash-fueled poetry scholarship year in Madrid. Even his narrator's musings about boredom are fascinating. Thanks to Elizabeth for recommending this one. I don't think I would have come across it on my own. By the way, this book deserves to be republished with a much better cover. Just saying. Normally I don't care about such things but it looks like something somebody printed up in a basement.
Josh Garrett Davis: Ghost dances: proving up in the Great Plains: A lovely, witty memoir about a Midwestern childhood, with seamlessly incorporated research. Not quite done but I'm hooked.
Henry Adams: The Education of Henry Adams. My oh my did I despise this book in high school, but I picked it up again the other month, mostly because it appears at the very top of a revered Wesleyan writer-in-residence's coveted "lifetime reading list." I was hooked from the very first page. Mr. Adams could write like crazy. Modern-day reviewers would attack him for his decision not to write about a personal tragedy that must have been a defining moment in his life (wouldn't that qualify as part of his 'education,' according to his own, broad definition of the term?) but I love the style, the thinking, and the way he avoids shoe-gazing memoir by suggesting the wider world around him.
If you have reading recommendations, that would be nice. If you are up for designing an author's website for me at a reasonable rate so I can leave behind this cheesy blog interface once and for all, that would be even nicer. Let me know. I know some of you Cactuseaters readers are high-tech wizards. I could use your expertise. If this ever happens, I would like the website to have a name other than "Cactuseaters," which is kind of misleading.