Errrr . . . I forgot to mention a couple books I'm reading purely for my own pleasure and interest, but will probably poke through very slowly because I own the copies, and they don't involve writing commitments with deadlines.
The first is a cultural history of masturbation -- a scholarly work published by Zone Books, which I believe is a press associated with MIT, I kid you not -- called Solitary Sex, by Thomas W. Laqueur.
The second is called Seriously Funny, by Gerald Nachman. It's a study of the rebel comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, from Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, Nichols & May, and Sid Caesar to Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, Mel Brooks, The Smothers Brothers, and Bill Cosby. Because the cover design follows the style of the old LP album covers of the time -- faded b&w photo in blue tones, with funky orange type for the title -- I just assumed it was a much older book, but it turns out to be copyright 2003, the author knows some of the subjects personally from way back, he did extensive research and interviews with most of them, and it's acutely written. Most of the chapters are much longer than you'd expect them to be. Really cool book.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus