On the fiction front, finally finished No Souvenirs by K.A. Mitchell, a contemporary m/m interracial erotic romance between a Korean trauma surgeon and a Texan redhead who meet during a scuba-dive, which I've been reading on and off since I bought on impulse in November, on the grounds that Samhain had been providing such cracktastic freebies with awesomely funny content warnings that I might as well repay them to some degree (which turned out to be around $1.20-ish after coupon and taxes).
This title got chosen because a previous book in the series had been offered free, and while the main relationship in that one was pretty annoying, the actual writing was pretty decent and I liked the supporting character who becomes the co-protagonist in this sequel enough to have a look at his story. Plus, I like hot redheads of any gender (I blame Heinlein and Darkover for this particular fetish) and it's uncommon to find redheaded male lead characters in any medium (excepting stuff involving Scottish Highlanders who are not Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod), so rarity value appeal as well.
The relationship in this book, thankfully, is rather less annoying, although some of the stuff about the neediness and trust and control issues made me roll my eyes. But aside from that, I liked the characters, who had surprisingly well-delineated personalities and motivations for acting the way they did, which provided a bit of plot to go along with the porn.
I'd have no hesitation recommending this to anyone wanting to read a steamy romance with a certain level of emotional depth and these particular setting/background elements, although I have to say that for erotic romance, the sex was actually pretty boring.
Sure, they do it at least once in every chapter, but it's always the same two basic acts in the same three standard positions. No frottage, no soixante-neuf, no toys, no props (well, except for the cowboy hat), no imagination. I am deeply disappointed that one of them is a medical professional and they never even once "play doctor".
On the non-fiction front, finished Oyster by Anglia Polytechnic University Professor Rebecca Stott. As mentioned upthread, this is part of Reaktion Books' Animal series examining the origins and relationships to human culture of various species.
This was a very informative and entertaining read, covering both a bit about the evolution and biology of the oyster, as well as a lot about how it's been used, abused, and perceived throughout history.
It had stuff on the pearl industry (the "blood diamonds" of yesteryear), the use of oysters and pearls in Dutch Masters paintings, the association of oyster-sellers with prostitutes due to aphrodisiac connotations, and a lot of other interesting trivia that was explored with surprising depth.
Apparently early oyster cultivation flooded the Victorian market making them ironically a food that was stereotypically for both the poor and the rich and how there was a backlash in both directions that was reflected in Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus in the Carpenter" and a play based upon it.
Also a lot of early anti-Darwinists latched onto the oyster to proclaim that they weren't descended from oysters (the way some modern creationists are said to claim that they didn't arise from monkeys). Thus the reciprocal degeneracy of mankind was latched onto, with oysters and other molluscs targeted as the eventual endpoint as people believed that the newly unveiled evolution would also work backwards, giving rise to tentacled creatures as scapegoat stand-ins for unwanted alien influences (a big theme with H.G. Wells, it would seem).
Highly recommended for people who like this sort of not-quite-pop science/culture/nature book which is basically high-brow edutainment (Reaktion is distributed in the States by the University of Chicago Press).
I expect I'll be finishing Snake, another book in the series, on my bus trip today, and see if I can find a few more of them at the library (which had a whole stack of them on the visit when I picked these two up).