Saturday, November 26, 2022

My incredibly long list of physical books in my office that I should read soon

 I have a problem. I have a problem that many book readers have. People keep publishing too many books that I want to read. I buy the book, I put it on the shelf fully with the intention of reading them in the future, but then another book comes along and I want to read that one, and then... and then... and then...

So, I have a stack of books - well, not a stack, shelves full - of books that I mean to read, but haven't. So here is my end of the year accountability post for all of the neglected books that are a little bit depressed because I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. If you see one I would love and should start with, by all means, let me know!

I'm going to try and do these as alphabetically as possible:

  • Adams, Taylor. No Exit
  • Ahmadi Miller, Enjeela. The Broken Circle
  • Ashley, Renee. Minglements.
  • Backman, Fredrik. Anxious People
  • Barth, John. The Sot-Weed Factor
  • Beckerman, Hannah. If Only I Could Tell You
  • Bennett, Brit. The Mothers
  • Bennett, Brit. The Vanishing Half
  • Cahalan, Susanna. The Great Pretender
  • Callender. Felix Ever After
  • Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write
  • Chambers, Becky. A Prayer for the Crown Shy
  • Choi, Mary H.K. Permanent Record
  • Clarke, Susanna. Piranesi
  • Coates, Ta-nehisi. The Water Dancer
  • Crimp, Imogen. A Very Nice Girl
  • Crouch, Blake. Recursion
  • DeLuca, Jenna. Well Met
  • Diangelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why it's so hard to talk to white people about racism
  • Erpenbeck, Jenny Go, Went, Gone
  • Finlay, Victoria. Fabric
  • Foley, Lucy. The Guest List.
  • Foo, Stephanie. What My Bones Know
  • Ford, Ashley C. Somebody's Daughter
  • Fowler, Therese Anne. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Gaiman, Neil. Coraline
  • Gay, Roxanne. Hunger
  • Gwynn, Gioia. The Art of the Short Story
  • Gyasi, Yaa. Transcendent Kingdom
  • Hannah, Kristen. The Four Winds
  • Hannah, Kristen, The Great Alone
  • Hibbert, Talia. Get a Life, Chloe Brown
  • Hoang, Helen. The Kiss Quotient
  • Hoffman, Alice. The Book of Magic
  • Honeyman, Gail. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  • Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner
  • Iglesias, Gabino. The Devil Takes You Home
  • Jackson, Holly. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
  • Jackson, K.M. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 days.
  • Jemison, N.K. The City We Became
  • Jenkins Reid, Taylor.  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • Johnson, Kim. This is My America.
  • Johnson, Nancy. The Kindest Lie.
  • Kelly, Anita. Love and Other Disasters
  • King, Lily. Writers and Lovers.
  • Klune, T.J. Under the Whispering Door
  • Koch, Richard. The Mindful Writing Workshop
  • Krueger, William Kent. This Tender Land
  • Kuhn, Sarah. Heroine Complex
  • LaPlante, Alice. The Making of a Story. The Norton Guide to Creative Writing.
  • Laurens, Stephanie. The Masterful Mr. Montague.
  • Lee, Jenny. Anna K: A Love Story
  • Lopate, Philip. The Art of the Personal Essay.
  • Majumdar, Megha. A Burning
  • Maclear, Kyo. Birds, Art, Life.
  • Mansala, Mia P. Arsenic and Adobo
  • Marr, Melissa. Wicked Lovely
  • Maxwell, Everina. Winter's Orbit
  • McBride. Me: Moth.
  • McCaughrean, Geraldine. Where the World Ends
  • McCreight, Kimberly. A Good Marriage
  • McKee, Robert. Story
  • McMillan Cottam, Tressie. Thick.
  • McQuiston, Casey. One Last Stop
  • Meyer, Melissa. Renegades.
  • Monk Kidd, Sue. The Secret Lives of Bees
  • Morrison, Toni. Paradise.
  • Natera, Cleyvis. Neruda on the Park.
  • National Writing Project. Because Digital Writing Matters.
  • Owens, Delia. Where the Crawdads Sing
  • Pearson, Mary. The Adoration of Jenna Fox.
  • Philippe. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
  • Preston, Natasha. The Lost
  • Rhimes, Shonda. A Year of Yes
  • Richardson, Samuel. Clarissa
  • Robinette Kowal, Mary. Of Noble Family.
  • Rochon, Farrah. The Boyfriend Project.
  • Rooney, Sally. Normal People
  • Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.
  • Roth, Philip. Everyman.
  • Roth, Philip. The Ghost Writer.
  • Roth, Philip. Zuckerman Unbound.
  • Rowell, Rainbow. Wayward Son: Simon Snow 2
  • Rowell, Rainbow: Any Way the Wind Blows. Simon Snow 3
  • Sager, Riley. Home Before Dark
  • Schultz, Kathryn. Lost and Found
  • Schwartz, Dana. Anatomy: A Love Story
  • Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire
  • Silver, Josie. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
  • Smith, Will with Manson, Mark. Will
  • Soseki. I am a Cat.
  • Srinivasan, Amia. The Right to Sex.
  • Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy
  • Straub, Emma. All Adults Here.
  • Taddeo, Lisa. Three Women.
  • Thomas, Angie. Concrete Rose.
  • Valdez Quade. The Five Wounds
  • Ward, Jesmyn. Sing, Unburied, Sing.
  • Westerfield, Scott. Afterworlds
  • Winch, Tara June. The Yield.
  • Woolf, Virginia. The Mrs. Dalloway Reader.
  • Yoon, Nicola. Instructions for Dancing
  • Zauner, Michelle. Crying in H-Mart
These were just the books that were in my office. I have even more in the bedroom and the living room and my classroom.  There are 103 of them. If I don't buy any more books for 2 years, I might get through them all. I need to read more. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Matched Series by Ally Condie

What happens when you realize that the system that you have depended on your entire life is completely corrupt?  Ally Condie in her Matched series, explores these ideas with a wonderful love story thrown in that had me wrapped up in these books every chance I had.

Cassie is so excited for her Match banquet, when she will finally meet the man that she will marry, who is perfect for her in every way.  Imagine her surprise when it turns out to be her best friend, Xander! She leaves the banquet full of hope, happy with The Society who has matched her with him and given her something wonderful to look forward to.  

But when she gets home to look at the data card that she was given at the banquet with information about her Match, the picture that pops up isn't Xander- but Ky Markham, another boy in her neighborhood.  Suddenly, she begins to see Ky in a new light, and The Society suddenly doesn't seem as amazing as she thought it was.

The rest of the adventure you will have to find out yourself, but the series takes you into the edges of society and deals with some incredibly interesting topics in a way that really was, in the time that it was written, foreshadowed societal issues that happened years after the books were written.

Overall, I was impressed with the journey. I cried (not hard, but still..), but not at the ending. I cried at a chapter that is simply a character name with a blank page- as the last two books have rotating chapters between the three main characters. Ky is a perfect romantic hero, troubled backstory with a pure love for Cassia that makes their pairing seem so perfect.  My only issue with the romance is that all three characters sort of blended in to each other. They all sounded sort of the same as I read the story, but I liked that the story that moved forward at a pretty decent pace. The story kind of lags in the second book, as Cassie and Ky are separated and looking to come back together, but the third book picks up and works really well as an indictment of governmental control. 

I highly recommend the series. It took me about a week to read as I obsessed over Ky and Cassie's love story. I swooned, I cried. 4.5 stars!

Monday, January 3, 2022

I'm so excited for January To Be Read List !!

 If you know me, you probably know that I do a lot of reading. My house is full of books. I'm also a part of three different book clubs, and then I also read for my own pleasure.  So, here are the books that I'm hoping to get to/finish by the end of January 2021, mostly in order of how they are stacked on my desk and when I need to read them.

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith: Nearly every every every list of recommended books from 2021 has this book on it. I grabbed a copy from Literati's Atlas Obscura club (my first love in Literati is Malala, but they opened me up to a lot of books), and I'm about halfway through with this. Completely amazing prose about the places in our country touched by the taint of slavery. So far, it's wonderful, and exciting, and just infuriating at the same time. (The chapter on the Blandford cemetery incensed me, but in a good way.) I'm probably going to write a much deeper review on this for the blog next week. It is so good!

The Renunciations by Donika Kelly: I picked this up a few months ago with the Literati book club hosted by Roxanne Gay (one of my very favorite people), and never got around to reading it, so I'm going to try and start. I have read through the first few already and love the blackout poetry that she includes. I don't read nearly enough poetry for someone who teaches it. 

Rosewater by Tade Thompson: This is for Life's Library and I have until February somethingth to finish it. I'm about three chapters in. I am loving the premise of an aperture in the dome that heals people of all of their illnesses, but at the same time I wonder what the price of that healing will be and how the main character is related to it.

The Mindful Writing Workshop by Richard Koch: This one is for school. I picked up last summer hoping to get some ideas for my Creative Writing class, but I fell behind with it. Originally I picked it up as a Kindle book, but decided that I needed the physical book as I like to annotate and sticky note books, especially when they're for studying. I like to be a good role model for my students.

All the Stars and Teeth  by Adalyn Grace: One of my reading Discord servers (Life's Library Readathon! Amazing people and wonderful readers!) recommended this one. Another writing discord server (Yay That Writing Place) is having a reading challenge to read one book from each letter of the alphabet so I'm starting with this one.

Call us What we Carry by Amanda Gorman: I'm reading this with Malala's Literati Book club (another one of my favorite people in the world and also one of my personal heroes. I'm going through her Masterclass right now), but also by Amanda Gorman and Yay more poetry! Amanda Gorman was the beautiful young poet who read at Joe Biden's inauguration. I hope these are just as inspiriting.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Top Ten of 2021: A Reflection

 This is my favorite time of year, where I get to look back on what I have read and think about how it has changed my outlook on life. So, much like other reading bloggers, I'm going to do a Top 10, but these are mostly not in any order other than something akin to an annotated bibliography, since some of these I can't put over the others, which means these are alphabetical.

Chee, Alexander. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays. Mariner Books. 17 April 2018. 

I read this book with Life's Library. In fact a few of these were picked by John Green or Rosianna Halse Rojas as books that the Life's Library community should read, and I'm glad that they chose these books. This one touched me in a way that I hadn't expected. Chee writes beautiful, striking prose about his struggle as a gay, Asian male looking to find his place in the writing community. If I was to teach a college-level Creative Writing class, this book would be at the top of my syllabus as one of the books that striving young writers should read. I loved the way that his prose flowed. 

Ferne, June. Chimpie. Bowker. 15 September 2019.

I admit, I loved this book not just because of the content, but also because I know the author personally, and she's a wonderful person. That aside, however, Ferne writes a beautiful children's/middle grade book about the fear that comes from our current social atmosphere of fear, especially in the reality of school shootings and in the shadow of Sandy Hook. Chimpie tells the tale of a young girl and her stuffed animal that comes to life for her and teaches her important lessons about overcoming fear.  I loved this book!

Green, John. The Anthropocene Reviewed. Dutton. 18 May 2021.

John Green is one of my heroes and I want to be him when I grow up even if he is younger than I am. His books are beautiful, heartbreaking prose with a poetic style that just opens you up and makes you really think. Anthropocene Reviewed is no exception. In this book, Green takes the same format as the podcast of the same name and writes reviews for things that are found in our current era, giving them a thorough, thoughtful consideration that covers both the history of the thing as well as his own reflections. I listened to the audiobook, which included a few extra tracks, the most touching of which is the review of the Hawaii O-O.   It is completely worth it to buy both the physical book (as it does have a few extra adorable reviews, including a review of title pages and end pages and fun publishing things), but the audiobook is worth it to listen to Green's emotion as he reads through the reviews. 

Headley, Maria Dahvana. Beowulf: A New Translation. MCD x FSG Originals. 25 August 2020.

I include this mostly because how excited I was for it and how amazing the language is. If it wasn't in my classroom with all of the books that I use for teaching (as I'm home on Winter Break) I would quote some of the amazing poetic writing that Headley included in this version of Beowulf. However, the thing I loved about it the most was that it is a text that I can (sorta) use with my students to show them how kenning works and the feminism of Beowulf written in a language that they can understand with the rhythms that they can get behind. I loved it.

Klune, TJ. The House in the Cerulean Sea. Tor Books. 17 March 2020.

This was, by far, one of the best books I read all year, and is at least in the top three, if not the top two, if not the absolute top book.  I read this in a period of some mental distress, and the way that Linus deals with the assignment he has been given was calming, as his tone was often one of reason. I loved the kids in this book so much, and the way that Arthur treated his wards and the things that he said and noticed about them made me think of my own students in a different light. I particularly loved the philosophical discussions that Lucy, Arthur and Linus would have.  The whole plot just made my heart sing. Though these may not be my students, I connected with each of the children in this book and wanted to see the world through their eyes. Fortunately, I have my students who show me a new world every day. 

Miller, Madeline. The Song of Achilles. Ecco. 20 September 2011.

Another Life's Library pick that I would have probably picked up on my own eventually, as I loved Circe which is also by Miller. The Song of Achilles was so beautifully written, and I cried so much at the end.  I honestly didn't have much of a grounding in Greek mythology before reading this or Circe, so some of the stories- like the sacrifice of Iphigenia- just incensed me. I was outraged, and I screamed and I gnashed my teeth. My husband was calm and said, "Oh, didn't you know that would happen?" and I said "NO!" and he laughed at me for not knowing my Greek Mythology better.  Patroclus's love for Achilles just sang out and was so beautiful, and I cried when he cried. I loved this book.

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Doubleday Canada. 15 November 2016.

I already love Trevor Noah for The Daily Show. I was excited to read his life's story. Born a Crime is a book that I think I will try to teach some day. Noah's reflections on his language, his family and the lessons he learned growing up in apartheid and then post-apartheid South Africa were wonderful. I would use this in my AP Language classes, especially the parts about how Noah became fluent in many different languages as well as the gift of argument and that was how he was able to really succeed.  I loved the way he talked about his own life, and I also listened to the audiobook for this one and got to hear the way he sounded when he smiled as he read certain stories. You can always hear the smile.

Rowell, Rainbow. Carry On. Wednesday Books. 6 October 2015

This was a light read that I needed so much and I absolutely devoured this book. It made my heart sing. I already had an idea of the premise, which is that Simon Snow is going to change the world, save the world, from the ultimate evil which is sucking magic out of the world. I already knew that there was a relationship that happens, and I was just waiting for it... and then it happened, and I danced and I jumped up and down, and I reveled in it. I loved this book so much for the romance and the self-discovery, and the WINGS! It was wonderful. I going to read the next one in the series sometime around Valentine's Day. It will probably be on next year's top ten list.

Washington, Bryan. Lot: Stories. Riverhead Books. 19 March 2019.

Ok, to be honest, I gave this book five stars, which means that it falls in my top ten, but I didn't write a review for it, and I read it back in January, which means that I've forgotten what it's about. Probably not really top ten worthy, since I can barely remember it, but I do remember the writing was good - and I definitely can't use it in my classroom due to some... explicit... material. It's the story of a young, gay man in Texas living with his father and his neighborhood. There is a good bit in the middle about baseball, and there is a lot about a strange underworld. It's a good book, I swear... I just can't remember it that much.

Wells, Martha. Network Effect. 5 May 2020.

I love love love the character of Murderbot, and I love ART, and I love it when ART and Murderbot get together because of all of the sarcastic wit and fun and wonderfulness, so this book was one I went into knowing that I would love it, and it didn't disappoint. When ART basically forces Murderbot to come to his aid, hilarity ensues as the whole Preservation gang gets involved in an elaborate plot to save the day.  If you haven't read Wells's Murderbot series, now is the time to do so. The books are short and amazing (though this one was actually novel length- it was totally an awesome read).

So, those are my top ten for 2021. I already have the makings of a good list for 2022. I went to the bookstore today and bought the books.  Now to do ALL of the reading!  Have a great 2022 y'all! 


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Goodreads Links and what I've just finished reading.

 I read a lot. I read so much that my husband thinks I should read less, but I love the written word.  On my Goodreads page right now, it says that I'm currently reading eight books. Eight! That seems crazy to me, but when I review the list, they are books that I am "currently" reading, though some of them have been laid aside for other books, I will come back to them.

My mother and my sister- who read, but aren't "big" readers- ask me how I can keep up with eight books- or even three books- at a time.  This is how I explain it. People watch television series all the time, and they can keep track of three or four storylines a week at the very least. (My mom LOVES the soap opera, Days of Our Lives and records it so that she never misses it!) For me, reading is the same way. I can pick up a book and immediately remember the characters, the story, where we were going and what I was expecting.

I'm one of those people who will cry because of a book, who will hug a book to my chest because it is so wonderful or the character needs a hug. I'm a sucker for romantic stories, or stories where people grow, so my most commonly read genres are Young Adult and Romance, but I read practically anything put in front of me. If it's well written, the characters are well developed and the storyline intrigues me, I will read it.

So, some books that I have finished recently:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: Far and away 5 stars for this one. I would recommend this to everybody who wants to be a writer and I would love to teach this book. The character, Xiomara, is incredibly relatable in her fights with her (excessively) religious mother especially about what it means to be a proper young lady in modern day New York City. The way the character develops, and finds her voice and her courage make for a wonderful story. I also loved the LGBTQ+ representation- though I want to hear more of that story!

The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: Five stars! Again.. another book I would love to teach to my students, but most of all I think every teacher and social worker should read. This book had me looking at my students in a completely different way, and made me want to hug every single one of them. The way that Mr. Parnassus deals with trauma affected children is amazing, and the way that the reluctant social case worker, Linus, deals with his own emotional growth is incredibly well written. It's so wonderful to have a character that you're rooting for and then watch him grow a heart. I loved the philosophical discussions that Linus and Arthur have around the idea of moral imperative. It was perfect.

Why Fish Don't Exist by Lulu Miller: Three stars, but mostly because I don't really like reading non-fiction too often. The writing is well done and pushes you forwards into the narrative quite a bit, but the reveal about the subject of the book, David Starr Jordan, and his philosophies was disappointing. I felt like I had been given a team to root for and then told that the team was involved in kicking puppies or something. I listened to this one mostly on audiobook (Thank you Life's Library for that!), but found myself putting it down - or turning it off- a few times. The ending was a bit redemptive for Miller, who weaves in her own memoir amongst the research on RSJ, but I still wasn't entirely thrilled with this book.

That's what I've been reading. What is currently on my desk and will get reviewed as I finish them:

For Jolebokaflod: Hubby picked Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells out of a stack of books that I already owned- since I didn't need to buy more books- for our traditional Yule book reading. I'm excited about this, since I love Murderbot!

From Life's Library: Rosewater by Tade Thompson: Only two chapters into this sci-fi story and loving the narration so far. Trying to keep with the LL accelerated calendar so I can participate in the discussions this time around. I'm not great at that!

Also reading: How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith: I'm already almost halfway through this book and loving the personal reflection and history of places that I will probably never visit, but which are so important to the story of slavery. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Another reading blog!

Yep! This is where I will keep my reading reviews and maybe a TBR list. It's something to do. Just starting out, but plan to make this amazing!

My incredibly long list of physical books in my office that I should read soon

 I have a problem. I have a problem that many book readers have. People keep publishing too many books that I want to read. I buy the book, ...