Musselman Library recently interviewed Anthropology Professor, Julie Hendon, for their blog, Next Page. Hendon shares how listening to audiobooks has made her more aware of writing quality, her top picks for archaeology-related fiction, and which authors she returns to again and again.
What are you currently reading that you would recommend?
I’m currently reading two books. One is William Morris: A Life for Our Time by Fiona MacCarthy, a comprehensive biography of this pivotal figure in the development of modern ideas of art, craftsmanship, and historical preservation. The other is Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa by Ousmane Oumar Kane which is introducing me to traditions of scholarship and education in West Africa that I know almost nothing about. I’m listening to a third, Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler.
Recent reads that I’d recommend include Francis Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, one of the best fictional accounts of the traumatic effects of Darwin’s Origin of Species on Victorian society as seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl. Also, The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe which transcends its title as it examines the life long friendship between two young women and the consequences of both lying and truth telling.
Are there particular genres you appreciate more than others?
I alternate between more serious writing, usually biography, social history, and anthropology, and more relaxing works of fiction. I read very widely in such genres as fantasy and science fiction, mystery, historical fiction, and graphic novels. Perhaps because I am an anthropologist, I am drawn to authors who excel at world building, giving me a sense of a real or imagined place and time. I steer clear of stories that feature serial killers and excessive violence, or books that lack believable female characters. I have never enjoyed short stories. I admire poetry but find it difficult to engage with.