Bury Me Standing is all about the history and current situation of gypsies - mostly in Eastern Europe. It was fascinating. One theory about why the gypsies are so held in contempt is that historically gypsy families were used as slave labor in many countries and the stigma has stayed with them. Another interesting bit of knowledge is that the stereotype of the roaming gypsy is caused mostly by the refusal of many town officials to let gypsies settle or be considered a real part of their community even when they've lived in one place for generations. I thought this one was a really good read, and I think I'll be looking for some additional reading on the topic - possibly about gypsies in the U.S.
The Family that Couldn't Sleep starts with a family in Italy that is plagued by a disease that robs the victim of sleep until they die. Sounds like something out of a episode of House, don't you think? The author does an interesting job of relating information about the various forms of this and other prion-caused illnesses - from scrapey in sheep to mad cow disease to kuru, It gets a bit more technically science-ish than I'm comfortable with in some places, but then turns back to the interesting backstory of the various investigations and discoveries of these diseases.
And I read the next Anne book - Anne's House of Dreams which is highly appropriate since my husband and I are purchasing our first home in 8 days (eek!). For a while I was pondering why everything has to turn out for the best in every one of these books, but then I just accepted that this is part of the reason I adore them. Yes, Montgomery includes deaths in her stories, but all other hardluck cases always turn out okay in the end - although sometimes in unexpected ways.
I'm determined to purchase the whole series for myself one of these days, and I think it'll be the issues with the Marlene Dietrich-esque Anne's on the cover. Although she looks nothing like the Anne in my head, I think they are much prettier than the cartoony covers they've done in more recent years. And when you're giving a book hard-earned space in your own bookshelf, I firmly believe covers are important.