His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass). 930 pages or so, but only took a couple of weeks once I started it. I’m not much for anything that rings of science fiction, I didn’t get into Harry Potter and I haven’t read Tolkien since I was a kid (and didn’t care about the movies when they came out). But this was really enjoyable to read. Imaginative and very engrossing, but there were times when some details seemed slightly inconsistent. However, I read fast and am not above skimming, so maybe I just missed some facts that would have made it all make more sense. Lots of names, as is typical for this kind of thing, but for once I seemed to remember characters throughout the series — I’m not sure if that’s due to something different about Pullman’s writing or just my attention to it.
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, Alexandra Robbins. Similar to My Freshman Year, this is a sort of amateur anthropology about college life. Definitely more realistic and less voyeuristic than anything on MTV or rumored in popular culture on this topic. The author’s approach seemed valid (though her IM “away message” monitoring and her use of those messages throughout the book seemed stupid to me), and what she writes is informative and interesting.
While we’re on the topic of college life, boink: College Sex by the People Having It, edited by the editors of Boston University’s boink magazine. The magazine made big news when it started, and it’s lasted longer than a couple issues despite the scrutiny and opposition, so I figured it was worth buying the book. It’s not material from the magazine — I believe it’s all new, just for the book. They have done a good job with the magazine, I guess (never seen a copy), and the book is similar, simultaneously lighthearted and serious, shying away from being sensational or shocking.