Friday Reading Rainbow

A list of what I’m reading and loving this week: 


I Was Told There’d Be Cake

 Sloane Crosley

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgI’m kind of getting into this thing of reading women writers of (roughly) my own generation. Sloane Crosley is absolutely delightful…. she’s like a snarky yet hapless older cousin who introduces you to weird movies and teaches you the meaning of sex terms you weren’t really sure about. Her writing is incisive and clever and modern, yet still has heart, which I appreciate in this seemingly heartless time.
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Two incredibly entertaining articles

What Is Glitter?: A Strange Journey to the Glitter Factory” by Caity Weaver

“In Praise of Fair-Weather Fandom” by Derek Thompson


Bring Up the Bodies 

Hilary Mantel

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Having just finished Wolf Hall, I’m delighted to find that its sequel is just as engrossing and beautiful. We continue to follow Thomas Cromwell’s career as an indispensable advisor to King Henry VIII, while the Boleyns enjoy the height of their power and Thomas watches around every corner for the future windings of intrigue. He seems always to anticipate which way the wind will blow next. I think in another book I’d be bracing myself for his inevitable fall  from the tower, but I like watching him win so much that I would be satisfied if he won the whole time.
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Carolyn Norr’s poems “Portrait in Deep East Oakland” and “Sinkhole.”

Jo Angela Edwins in Parentheses: “The Beauty of Stark Things,” a poem I have come back to several times this week.

What are you reading this week? Tell me in the comments! 


Friday Reading Rainbow (1st of 2019!)

Friday Reading Rainbow (1st of 2019!)

Greetings, 2019 people! You are so shiny!

Some Reading Resolutions

  • I want to read 52 books this year! That’s one for every week, but since I usually read more than one book, I think I can do it.
  • I should read more of the books that I actually own (and maybe make room for some new ones).
  • Post more frequent reviews and recommendations here

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

Currently Reading


Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

I’m approaching the last pages of this epic saga. I’m still so wrapped up in Cromwell’s schemes, and I like how little inner monologue he has — we kind of have to figure him out without much help from him (he has bigger things to worry about). I’ve been fascinating with Anne Boleyn since I was a little contrarian / anarchist child and since I have a mole on my neck (a sign of being a witch, or so they said with her!). She’s portrayed here as capricious, savage, and ambitious to an extreme. It’s delightful to watch her smash things.


Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, by Eric Foner

The American Civil War is one of my favorite eras of history; it’s conceptually rich and dramatic, and there is so much evil and violence, yet so much hope. I want this book to shed some light on the human experience of enslaved people. It also doubles as some preliminary research for the novel I’m writing (The Western).


“Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning,”  by Beth Gordon in Into the Void. 


Marriage,” by Luisa Muradyan.


What are you reading this weekend? I hope it brings you joy (and a warm mug of coffee!) 

Reading in (Later, Grayer) Autumn

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: my desire for reading grows as the days get shorter. It’s dark now before 5, and my chilled soul gets joyous as I turn the heat down, curl up in my armchair with coffee and a book and maybe some jazz on the tape player.

If this sounds idyllic and perfect to you, please temper your expectations with the knowledge that I only reach this hallowed state once every few days. These days are busy, busy! I’m lucky enough to adore my job, but it does take a lot out of me. Not to mention the necessity of getting a second job for the extra holiday cash and the rehearsals and concerts I’m singing in. Thanksgiving was a welcome break and calm before the storm of December time. So I am attempting to slice out little places to write and read and keep up the care of myself.

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThis is a second attempt for me, which is in itself odd– usually I am of the opinion (looking at the 500+ books on my to-be-read list) that if a book doesn’t enchant me, it’s probably worth putting down for good. In this case, I think I just ran out of time to return the library copy and gave up. I’m trying again because I find Thomas Cromwell’s character intriguing (a cynic, a politician, a heartbroken moralist?) and because the world of Tudor England is so strikingly painted in such detail. The book follows Cromwell, an advisor to first Cardinal Wolsey and then King Henry VIII as Henry deliberates divorcing his first wife, Katherine, and marrying Anne Boleyn. Obviously, as with most historical fiction about well-known figures, we know what will happen, but I’m drawn into the chess-like negotiations of politics nonetheless. In terms of brutal, murderous royal intrigues, I am more a fan of this than, say, Game of Thrones…. (there are no dragons yet, though). One of the things I appreciate about a long novel is that I have to accept that I’ll be living with the book for awhile, and robbed of the immediate drive to finish the book, I instead enjoy picking it up again and again.

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The All of It, by Jeannette Haien

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I finished this odd little book today. I found it on some list of “underappreciated favorites” and decided it was intriguing. The book takes place in Ireland, with a widow, Enda, who still remembers the countryside before cars took over, telling her story to her priest. The essence of her story is that her husband, Kevin, who has just died, was the other party to a secret that’s never been shared. Once the secret is revealed, the book continues to waft through Enda’s homey way of speaking her memories. That part was lovely. What wasn’t quite lovely was the priest, who is on the edge of a conniption every other second and who has some unresolved issues which eventually get worked out through fishing. Or maybe they don’t get worked out through fishing. I don’t think I understand fishing. Anyway, I’m not going to give away what the secret was or what happens with the fishing. This book is worth reading if you want that magical feel of someone leaning in and telling you a story.

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Marina Keegan’s Story “Cold Pastoral.”

 Read it here in The New Yorker.

I found this devastatingly close to home, from the millenial classic of an undefined relationship, to the confusion of loss and the instructions on how one is supposed to grieve, to the fear of rejection and the sinking knowledge of oneself in another’s eyes. I know that some may say Keegan’s plaudits as a rising talent have been unduly magnified by her tragic death; this is the story that convinced me most of her ungodly genius. She is, I’ve concluded, not overrated. I am sad once again that she has gone. My generation needed her light.

Ada Limón – Bright Dead Things

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And I’m continuing to savor bits of Ada Limón’s book as I go through these days. My favorite so far is “State Bird,” which I’m adding to the “Love” section of my poetry class this spring.

If you were a state, I’d be that state’s bird

What could capture devotion more purely?

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