So when going (by yourself) to the City of the English Language, you might as well immerse yourself in the English Language. That and what else are you gonna do when the entire in-flight entertainment system shorts out 5 miutes after takeoff for a 9-hour flight? So over the past week I polished off:
Sacrifice by Eric Shanower (Part 2 of the Age of Bronze)
Betrayal Part One by Eric Shanower (Part 2 of the Age of Bronze)
The Professor and the Madman (The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary) by Simon Winchester
Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans are Looking Forward to the End of the World by Nicholas Guyatt
That last one was particularly interesting. A Brit from Simon Frasier University who's a historian turns his research questions to current America, asking what exactly and why evangelicals believe about the apocalypse. Of course, he pretty much interviews the lunatic fringe and those making lots of money of it, but because he actually talks to them, his portrayal has an impressive amount of sympathy and context (though he still doesn't seem to like John Hagee and I don't blame him at all for that). Once in a chapter or so he gets a theological point just plain wrong, but then again, he's reporting on people who do that for a living, so can't get too bothered. I found it surprisingly readable and relatively nuanced. It even helped me in conversations at my convention about my own country, so there ya go.
Oh, and as for the convention? The only one I've ever been to where a music/history/theology talk was followed by an art talk was followed by a clinical psychology talk. For that reason alone I hope more conventions like that take place.