Saturday Reading – 2018 Wrap-up and a Review

Saturday Reading – 2018 Wrap-up and a Review

8 Incredible books I read this year:

  • The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez
  • Treeborne, by Caleb Johnson
  • Sycamore, by Bryn Chancellor
  • News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
  • Brass, by Xhenet Aliu
  • Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
  • The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

Reading is my Sport:

41 books
11,936 pages
20 books by women
10 books by people of color

Book I recommended most:

Sycamore, by Bryn Chancellor.
This was a great, engrossing read both for its suspenseful plot and its intricately drawn characters. I loved Jess the same way I love my students; I wanted her to have an amazing and full life. Her self-discovery was just beginning and she was a truly interesting individual. What happens to Jess creates ripples throughout her town in sadly beautiful ways. The book this most reminded me of was The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh (also a great read).

I recommended this to a dear student with the requirement that she HATE Paul as much as I did. The cool thing is that she then recommended to a junior in my AP class, who chose it for her independent reading book. It’s like I’m a book grandma!!

Book that was recommended to me:

So Much Blue, by Percival Everett

My friend / former teacher, Trisha, sent this to me about a year ago, and I found it really cool. She and I both love art and artists, and I found it creepy, cool, confusing to spend time inside the mind of an artist for a while.

Review: The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

CW: Suicide, loss

This is really a magnificent little book — like a diary of grief, filled with a curious writer’s encyclopedia entries of writers, suicides, dogs, and loves. The narrator is erudite, yet relatable in her little life that gets filled with outsize grief, and her little apartment that gets filled with an outsize dog. The story goes that her friend, a famous writer, commits suicide and unexpectedly leaves the care of his dog Apollo, a harlequin Great Dane, to her. She’s also a writer, and she starts to come undone, especially by the question of whether writing is a way of coping with grief or whether writing cannot possibly heal you and will in fact drive you to torture. I’m not sure she answers that question, but she does provide hope in a very real way for a grief that feels startlingly accurate to the actual experience of grief.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that the penultimate chapter, in which Nunez or the narrator (unclear which!) provides a belated purported narrative frame for the story she’s telling, astounded me. It was really, really well done. And it upgraded my rating from four stars to five. What a masterful turn of craft from Sigrid Nunez. I very much want to read more of her work.


9 Books I want to read in 2019

  • Fruit of the Drunken Tree, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
  • Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (for once in my life I think I’ll attempt to read a sequel immediately after I read the first book??)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • The Midnight Cool, by Lydia Peele
  • Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
  • Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
  • The Steady Running of the Hour, by Justin Go
  • The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger


What are some incredible books you read in 2018? What are your reading goals for this year? Anyone want to gush about these titles with me? Comment below!! 


2018 Reading Goals


4-yr-old Nora     the author, age 4, in front of her mother’s bookshelf


First, last year’s count (my students, amazed at how much I read, made me do this):
I read 52 books
I read 13,373 pages
My shortest book: Tremble, by C.D. Wright (60 pages)
My longest book: The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson (481 pages)

Favorite books of 2017:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
Ways to Disappear, by Idra Novey
Tornado Weather, by Deborah E. Kennedy


This year I have a few interlocking goals:
1. Read 60 books
2. Choose authors of color for 25% of my fiction reading.
3. Read at least 50% women authors
4. Each month, read one book about pedagogy or the teaching profession.

What are your reading goals this year?


New Year’s Poem

New poetry– in honor of the dawn of 2018. Changes ringing already. 

New Year’s Poem

did you champagne me
because I sparkle or
because our love is not rosé?
should fireworks remind me
to be surprised by you?

is delight really a substitute
for constancy, devotion,
for roses, not petals
for choosing our bedsheets together?

I will think at clock-strike
what good I am without you
and what color I could be
if I bloomed anew this Spring.

and do I, as snowflakes christen midnight,
want to begin again with you?

or do I conceive
a newborn, pink-cheeked,
lonesome me.