Updates

We moved! From Texas to Utah. It’s a two-day drive, unless you drive overnight, which we didn’t because we don’t hate ourselves (at least no more than people who make themselves drive from Texas to Utah hate themselves; it is not a fun drive). I listened to Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary on the drive, finishing it…

We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Five stars, read in November 2017. This book covers the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. For each year, there is an article Coates wrote for The Atlantic, preceded by an essay (“a sort of extended blog post,” I think is how he describes it) in which he looks back on his own work and assesses…

ME, by Tomoyuki Hoshino

Five stars, read in January 2018. I’ve had this post in my drafts for a few months now, because there was so much for me to work through. I did not expect the direction this book ended up taking, on more than one level. It was brilliant, disturbing, astonishingly incisive commentary on human nature and identity—and…

The Bedlam Stacks, by Natasha Pulley

Five stars, read in September 2017. I’ve never read anyone who writes male characters the way Natasha Pulley does, and it’s irresistible to me. This book took longer to get going, but it’s also more polished than her first book; by the end, I’d fallen in love with Merrick and Raphael nearly as hard as…

Getting ready for another readathon

I’ve been thinking about the readathon for the whole month since I started hearing about it, and today—it’s currently sixteen hours from the start time in my time zone—I think I’m getting sick. This could be good or bad for the readathon, but it’s too early to say which; if I’m couch-locked for the whole…

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Two stars, read in September 2017. Will possibly downgrade to one star after I think more about it. This was not an enjoyable experience and upon finishing, I felt like I should apologize to myself for forcing me through the whole thing. One thousand pages of farming, 19th-century Russian politics, and petty, jealous, self-absorbed characters…

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton 

Four stars, or maybe 3.5, read in September 2017. I haven’t actually spoken to many people about Hillary Clinton, because I try not to for my own sanity. But when I have, and when I’ve read articles and books about her, they have almost never—the “almost” might not even be necessary—been entirely reasonable. Hillary has said…

Tonoharu, by Lars Martinson

Four stars, read in March 2017, then again in August. I didn’t write what I thought about each book as I finished it, so I can only think of the trilogy as a whole—but you really have to read all three, so it’s just as well. The story is written a bit confusingly; the two…

Notes on a Harry Potter Reread

These are small posts that come from my old blog, but which I hadn’t previously reposted here, from the last time I reread the Harry Potter series (in 2014). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I wish I could remember exactly how many times I’ve read the earlier books in the series; obviously it’s more…

An Autobiography, by Angela Davis

Five stars, read in April 2017. Yes, once again a post has taken me this long to write. For years I have been meaning to find out more about Angela Davis, and as so often happens, now that I’ve finally met her books I cannot believe it took me so long—or that in all my reading, she’s…

Hopes and Fears / Under the Iron Sea

Songs from these albums make me think of walking around the neighborhood next to Lakeside Village, pushing Liron in his stroller, loving the quiet streets with weird flowers and stop sign graffiti. Fall 2010.

Autofiction, by Hitomi Kanehara

Four stars, read in July 2017. I’ve spent a good twenty minutes now trying to track down the article that made me first want to read Hitomi Kanehara, and I’m frustrated that I can’t find it. All I remember is that the writer was (I think) a Japanese American woman, possibly an author herself? And…

Japanese Haiku from Peter Pauper Press

Four stars, read in July 2017. I couldn’t believe my luck to find these three small, beautiful old volumes at my local used bookstore last night—particularly because under their faded, torn jackets the same lovely pattern has been preserved on the hardcover. Rather than reviews, my posts about haiku are always just a collection of…

Spring Reading

I’m checking several important things off my TBR this spring, thanks to the interlibrary loan program where I work. My copy of Women, Race and Class came from one of the Texas A&M libraries, and while its first few pages had been annoyingly vandalized, it also had the infinitely redeeming quality of having been signed by…

TBR for Women’s History Month

I have been finding so many brilliant things at my used bookstore lately, and in March I think I’m going to see how many of the ones by women I can get off my TBR shelf. This is also part of my reading “theme” for this year, which can essentially be described as Just Fucking Read It…

Waiting, by Ha Jin

Three and a half stars, read in February 2017. The best word I can choose for this book is bittersweet. I’ve had a difficult time figuring out how I feel about it. For some reason it took me a very long time to pick it up, but when I did, it was a sick day…

Why We Can’t Wait, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Five stars, read in January 2017. If you want a perfect example of why this book is (STILL) necessary, consider this: It’s a book about the same time period, the same issues, as To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee—the book nearly every person in the United States had to read in school. While I…

Empress, by Shan Sa

Two and a half stars, read in December 2016. Translated from French. This was a little dry; at times it felt like reading a catalog. A thousand horses in the parade, a thousand ministers, a thousand concubines, a thousand drums, and so on, sometimes for two or three pages. It made for easy skimming, though, which…

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Four stars, read in January 2017. [There are going to be spoilers in here, because I think the statute of limitations runs out at 150 years.] I consider the fourth star as belonging to the audio production, which is absolutely outstanding. Anna Bentinck is the narrator, and I was continually impressed by how well she…

Why I Am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell

Seven hundred stars. Read in January 2016. Just kidding: It’s only five. I’ve just never read a book that I agreed with so closely. This is what my book looks like now that I’ve finished: And probably half of those blades of grass represent two or more sections on the same page spread. I think I’ve…

Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong

Four stars, read in December 2016. This was fascinating, though slightly different than I expected. I’d had the impression that the protagonist leaves her marriage and goes through a process of sexual liberation meeting many men—but it’s actually just one man, and that sort of changes the dynamic. It’s also surprisingly heavy on the Freudian psychology…

My First Readathon!

I loved it. I was disappointed that it was so short, but that’s probably because of how loosely I held myself to the time constraints; not having planned it in advance, there was only so much I could put completely aside. I basically spread out my twenty-four hours over the daytime hours of Saturday and…

Fresh Off the Boat, by Eddie Huang

Three and a half stars, read in September 2016. I don’t speak hip-hop, so a significant portion of this book was entirely incomprehensible to me. That sounds like a joke, but “colloquial” doesn’t even begin to cover the vocabulary, and that’s before I take all the sports jargon into account. I could at least get…

Books I Own But Haven’t Read

Check out Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish. For a while I was trying to be better about this, but I think at this point it’s something I have to accept about myself: I will always collect books faster than I can read them. I actually think I’ve been much worse than usual lately,…

A to Z Survey

Author you’ve read the most books from: Excluding children’s picture books (sorry Mo Willems), it’s Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, because of the 28 books in the Alice series. But if we could go back in time and count all the Baby-sitters Club books I read before Goodreads, I think Ann M. Martin would top the list….

The Fever, by Wallace Shawn

Five stars, read in April 2016. After reading his interview with the Paris Review, I knew I wanted to start tracking down Wallace Shawn’s work. I was so surprised by the connection I felt with his ideas in that interview, and it was the same with The Fever. It was written as a kind of one-act play,…

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookworm Delights

Finding old used bookstores that actually smell like old used bookstores Paris Review interviews—the most meaningful, insightful conversations with the most brilliant writers over the past seven decades Marvel Puzzle Quest, a game I play based on the comics Maps of fictional worlds Book trivia: some of my favorites are Sporcle (online) and QuizUp (an app on my…

The Thickety: A Path Begins, by J.A. White

Four stars, read in April 2015. The Thickety is surprisingly dark for juvenile fiction: grisly murders, horrifying creatures, dark magic, the extreme torment of small children by an entire village of cruel religious cult members. I liked it a lot even while I was annoyed by some silly things (the twelve-year-old girl’s dead mother’s dress “fit…