2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge- Year in Review

book-stackIt’s 2017!  Where has 2016 gone?  It was a great year for reading, and I met my reading challenge (notice I’m not saying “goal.”  I have a tricky relationship with goals and reading, as I’ve addressed in this specific context before).  Here’s how the year went: Continue reading

“Upstream” by Mary Oliver- Book Review

upstreamI can’t read Mary Oliver’s poetry (which I have been doing a lot lately), without considering her process.  Not knowing anything else, I imagined long walks and lots of quiet pondering.  Early mornings.  But also late nights afterwards.  At a desk.  With a warm lamp. Writing, drifting, thinking.  I imagined a dog with her, maybe, on these walks or by the fire. Sometimes. Lots of quiet.  Upstream, a collection of her essays, filled in some, but not all, of the blanks. Continue reading

AbeBooks.com Shout Out

underratedA friend recently tagged me in a link to an article on obscure and hard to find and grossly underrated books according to 21 of our favorite authors.  I was overjoyed.  Book recommendations are my favorite, and a book recommendation from a favorite author, especially of an underrated, hard to find book, seems like just about the best thing in the world, right? Continue reading

Fight Club and the Disenchanted Middle Class

fight clubIn the “Afterword” to the book, which I can’t believe I am just now reading (I’ve read and enjoyed others of his, and this was one of my favorite movies of all time), Palahniuk talks about the making of the book and the environment leading up to its creation.  Specifically, he says in part: Continue reading

The Bell Jar- Book Review

the bell jarWhy does this book speak to me so?  Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.  The book begins so light, so funny, a young girl in New York living any girl’s dream.  She wants to see it all, she wants to experience everything.  Plath perfectly captures what it’s like to see the world in that stage of our lives, full of energy and hope and excitement for the future, but also unsure in a way.  Brave and scared at once.  Right on that line between innocence and loss of innocence: “This dress was cut so queerly I couldn’t wear any sort of bra under it, but that didn’t matter much as I was skinny as a boy and barely rippled, and I liked feeling almost naked on the hot summer nights.” (p. 8). Continue reading

“No Matter the Wreckage,” Poems by Sarah Kay- Book Review

sarah kay no matter the wreckageSome reviews, some books, some writers, I just feel inadequate to the task.  Sarah Kay has inspired me here, and I feel kind of speechless as a result.  As someone for whom poetry can sometimes feel like an almost spiritual experience, I don’t feel worthy or capable of doing the book justice.  Yet I feel compelled to say something. Continue reading

“Naked in the Woods” – by: Margaret Grundstein- Book Review

GrundsteinCompF.inddAt least once a week, and sometimes more, I think about running away.  Granted, I don’t usually get too far into the specifics.  But I do wonder, abstractly, what that would actually look like.  Just going completely off the grid.  No more career, no more fixed responsibilities, no more technology, or even electricity.  Well that is precisely what Margaret Grundstein did, which she describes in delightful detail in her memoir Naked in the Woods: My Unexpected Years in a Hippie Commune.

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“Quack This Way”- David Foster Wallace and Bryan Garner Talk Language and Writing

DFW-Quack-This-WayWhat if you took two of the most beautiful minds known to man, sat them down in a room together, told them to talk about your favorite topic (language & writing), recorded the whole thing, and then turned it into a book.  Basically, that is exactly what has happened in Quack This Way.  I have had the distinct pleasure of reading several of Garner’s books and seeing him present in person.  I have read just about everything David Foster Wallace ever wrote.  The very idea of this book made me ecstatic with hope and excitement.  I was not disappointed. Continue reading

Stoner, by John Williams

John-Williams-StonerIn a recent blog post, I talked about some of the praise this book has received.  I know the dangers of the oversell, I do, and I would hate to have someone not read this book for fear that it could not possibly live up to the hype I am heaping upon it, but this book was, seriously, front to back, page by page, sentence by sentence, one of the best novels I can remember reading.  And you know how much I read.  More than a book a week, all year every year.  And this one belongs near the top.  A star is born.  A new favorite. Continue reading

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves- Book Review

Not all 300+ page books are created equal.  Sometimes they feel like a chore.  Sometimes they take forever to finish.  Sometimes we abandon them.  But not Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.  It felt like a dream.  Within pages, I knew I was already sorry it was not longer.  That I would never want it to end.  I couldn’t stop reading.  I didn’t want to read anything else.  She had my undivided attention. Continue reading