Yellow wallpaperIt isn’t a new book by any means, but I found the themes and the writing of the short stories in The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings so timeless that it could be.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her stories about a hundred years ago. If you think of authors who lived at the turn of the 20th century to be stodgy, you may be as surprised as I was by Gilman’s candor and (sometimes) humor about gender identity, mental health and social norms. These themes are very much hot-button issues today.

“Herland” is the story that most made me want to check out the book, but I enjoyed all of them. In this utopian fantasy, a group of three male explorers set out to find a secret, all-female civilization rumored to exist in the seclusion of the forest. Their tantalizing visions of what they hope to encounter is not exactly what they actually find!

For a different -but no less interesting- take on the all-female society theme, you may want to check out the graphic novel Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan.

magazinesIt was a wonderful Sunday to spend outdoors, provided you’re the star of a murder mystery set in turn of the century London.  Idle away the afternoons of the April-May monsoon season with a couple picks from DPL.

If you have the attention span of a gnat and enjoy nonfiction like myself, it’s a good time to skim through Best American Essays 2008.  Here an editor has reviewed and picked the best of this genre.  You know, the kinds of thought pieces the Quad-City sophisticates and literati chortle over at all the premiere area intellectual salons.

We buy an edition every year, as well as Best American Magazine WritingBest Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Short Stories.  Think how many of those little advertiser cards would get strewn on your floor had you actually parsed through each magazine.