Sunday, April 19, 2015

Joyce E. Salisbury

Joyce E. Salisbury is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. She is the author of Perpetua’s Passion: Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman and The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages.

Her new book is Rome's Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire.

Recently I asked Salisbury about what she was reading. Her reply:
I read a lot of books. I won’t describe the ones that informed Rome’s Christian Empress directly because the bibliography of the book does that. Here’s some of the books that I’ve read while waiting for my book to appear. I unrepentantly love mysteries, and the more complex the better. I’ve recently read Philip Kerr’s books whose protagonist is a non-Nazi detective in Nazi Germany – most recently, If the Dead Rise Not. I also really liked Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm, and the complex and riveting Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch. To be honest, I also read every Jack Reacher novel as Lee Child cranks them out. (Tom Cruise was entirely too small to play the character in the movie!) I think I’m drawn to mysteries because to me the past is a puzzle that needs unraveling, though it’s never as tidy a resolution as a mystery novel.

I’ve also been traveling as I lecture on the British ship, Voyages to Antiquity, and I like to read novels that take place in the places I’m traveling. I enjoyed Rosanna Ley’s Return to Mandalay – plot was a little contrived, but it made me appreciate Myanmar more as we landed there. Preeta Samarasan’s Evening is the Whole Day is perfect when traveling in Malaysia. These books remind me to write about the setting of the past – not just the events.

Finally, right now I’m rereading some Dickens, which I do every now and then. I’m reading Little Dorrit because I don’t remember reading that one before. I occasionally like 19th century novels to remind me to take my time when I write and when I read. Sometimes a story is best savored, whether it is being told or read. Though I will never write so long a book as Dickens – I tend to tell the tale and move on to the next one.
Learn more about Rome's Christian Empress at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rome's Christian Empress.

--Marshal Zeringue