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This weekend, I’m heading home to Holland, Michigan (yep, it still feels like “home”) for Christmas . . . by train. It’s twenty hours from Boston to South Bend, Indiana, by Amtrak, and in order to pass the time I’m taking–what else?–a big stack of books. Here’s what’s in the Nina Totin’ Bag.

  • bitch magazine. My latest issue came in the mail last week, and I’m saving it for somewhere between Albany and Erie, PA.
  • Tiocfaidh ár lá: Our Day Will Come, An Exploration of Irish Nationalist Ideology, by my friend Hanna. This is her first pass at the topic that will eventually become her master’s thesis, and I get to be one of her first readers! Hooray!
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion. I’ve been meaning to read this all year, and actually sometimes between semesters I’m in just the right mood to contemplate grief, morality, and the meaning of the universe.
  • Spending: A Utopian Divertimento, by Mary Gordon. I’ve actually already started this novel, which is about a woman artist and her self-appointed muse, about art and work, relationships and sex, money and ethics, feminism, and a whole lot more.
  • A Lick of Frost, by Laurell K. Hamilton. Evil fey, not-so-evil fey, court intrigue, murder, and sex. What more could one ask for in winter break reading?
  • Murder at the Gardner, by Jane Langton. Langton’s retired police detective turned Harvard professor Homer Kelly stars in a series of mysteries set around Boston; this one takes place next door to Simmons!
  • History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History, by Dana Lindaman and Kyle Ward. With a title like that, how could I resist?
  • Dragonhaven, by Robin McKinley. I’ve been saving this one for a couple of months. It’s always a treat when one of your favorite authors comes out with something new.
  • “Mingling of Souls Upon Paper”: An Eighteenth-Century Love Story, edited by Bonnie Hurd Smith. This book contains the edited correspondence of Judith Sargent Stevens, telling the story of her love for, and eventual marriage to, Universalist preacher John Murray. The editor was a speaker this fall at the MHS.

It is entirely possible that between now and Saturday, noon, when the train pulls out of South Station, I will have added a volume or two to the collection. I have this 25% Barnes & Noble coupon burning a hole in my pocket and I think the Prudential Center has a copy of Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, which I’ve been meaning to read since July, and which I know I will need to own since it will be read with pencil in hand to make notes in the margins. And Mom tells me I simply must read Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean Spells Trouble . . .

Then again, I have to fit those Christmas presents in somewhere too.

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