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What our reviewers are reading.

Off-duty Reading

As many work schedules wind down for the holidays Style's book reviewers are (surprise!) reading a bit more. And they are reading for pleasure not just to bring us word of the best new books. When we asked them what they were reading at leisure here are their responses:

Francis Decker:
I usually read about two or three books at a time Lately I have been reading Jennifer Egan's new novel "Look at Me" which is great. On the side, I just finished Jonathan Franzen's first novel "The Twenty-Seventh City." This first attempt at a novel isn't as good as "The Corrections," but it's interesting to see how he developed as a writer. A novel that I really enjoyed and that I finished about a week ago was Patrick McCabe's "The Butcher Boy." It was a lot like William Faulkner except it was based in Ireland instead of Mississippi.

Jessica Haddad:
I have been trying to read John Irving's latest, "The Fourth Hand" for about three months now. I am about 3/4 of the way through and still have not figured out what the point of it is, but am determined to finish it because I have already invested so much time. I am a big John Irving fan and am disappointed by this book, which seems repetitive and not fully formed.

Also, I have been reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" about three times daily for the past few weeks. Michael [a little more than 1 year old] is captivated by it, probably because he loves to eat!

Lee Hall:
"The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis"—(My grandmother wrote poetry and prose — I have always loved poems. This is a very special book since it includes many of the classic poems I remember. Great for calming frazzled nerves after shopping).

"Shop Girl" by Steve Martin (fun, easy to read, and light enough to be interrupted by all of the holiday hoopla!).

"The Best American Short Stories 2001" (always interesting, plus the added benefit of having Barbara Kingsolver as a contributor this year.

"The Corrections" (just purchased this, and I plan to dig in during the Christmas break).

The one book I can recommend above all others is: "On the Wing," by Nora Sayre. The reader enters the literary circles and political turmoil of the '50s in London, as Sayre recalls her exciting young years abroad.

Angela Lehman-Rios:
I recently reread "Ethan Frome," which is just about the most depressing little book there ever was. Now I'm reading Woolf's "Orlando" — much livelier so far. I'm also reading around in the Larry Levis memorial issue of New Virginia Review (vol. 11, 2001) and "Earth Works," a collection of gardening columns by Virginian Nancy R. Hugo.

Bruce Simon:
I am presently reading two books — one fiction and one non-fiction. The fiction book is "Desecration" by Tim La haye and Jerry Jenkins, the ninth installment in the popular Left Behind Series. The nonfiction book is "The Brigade" by Howard Blum, a provocative account of a contingent of Jewish volunteers recruited by the British in 1944 to battle the Nazi armies in Europe.

Travis Wheeler:
…As for my pleasure reading—I'm afraid it's not very contemporary. I've been in a bit of a Victorian kick, reading Thomas Hardy novels, Oscar Wilde, and a Jad Adams biography of the English poet Ernest Dowson — which my company, I.B. Tauris publishes.) Suppose the last two are at least hip in the Moulin Rouge-ish sense. Cheers.

Jason Wilkins:
"John Adams" by David Mc Collough and "Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis. To me the comparison between Adams and Jefferson never gets old — there's always another chapter to be explored about their differences.

Rozanne Epps:
I'm ashamed to say I'm not doing very pleasant leisure reading. Largely because someone gave me a recording of the author reading it, I am listening to "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden"

Leisure reading or not, though, it is an important book because it shows what a determined enemy we have in Bin Laden and in many Muslims. We desperately need to know the history of our dealings with the Muslim world.

Melissa Scott Sinclair:
I'm usually in the middle of three or four books at once. Right now it's Simon Winchester's "The Professor and the Madman;" H. W. Janson's massive "History of Art;" and, for Christmas, C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and the

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