Tag Archives: reading

want to read 2016

What I Read In 2015/Want To Read in 2016

I’ve been keeping track of what I’ve been reading since 2009 here on this blog. My goal for 2015 was to read 50 books. I came pretty close at 42, which is 8 more books than I read in 2014 and 22 more books than I read in 2013. During our hot, dry summer, I read a few books while walking here and there and really love to read that way. It’s different than reading on the treadmill (which I hate), so it’s not just about moving while reading, though I do think that is a part of the romance for me. Sometimes when I sit and read, my body gets antsy and I close the book to get up and move around. When I walk and read, I can read for longer stretches of time than when sitting still. And I can still take notes while I read. I only need to pause and make a note in the margin before moving on. Theoretically I could do this on the treadmill in any weather, but the treadmill is sooo boring to me and that boredom seeps into my reading. I’m not going to post a list of the particular titles I plan to read in 2016, though I will post a picture of some I have lined up by my desk that I’m interested in reading. I’d like to read a variety of books from different genres and stay open to new books too. I’d like to read a couple of books with Chris and all the books my book group chooses. I’d like to write down all the found sentences I mark when I read this time and look back at them at the end of the year. I always mark them by writing a heart in the margin, but I don’t consistently go back to pull them out later. I want to read more attentively when I’m at home, for longer stretches without checking my phone or getting up to put a load of laundry in. I’d like to spend at least one full hour a few times a week just reading without distractions.  Below is a list of the books I read in 2015 (the first five I absolutely loved, and I can’t wait to see The Brothers K at Book-It in May) and a picture of some I have queued up for 2016.


How about you? What did you read? Why? What will you read in 2016? How will you read?


  1. The Brothers K/ David James Duncan (novel)
  2. My Year of Meats/ Ruth Ozeki (novel)
  3. Through the Second Skin/ Derek Sheffield (poetry)
  4. Time and Materials/ Robert Hass (poetry)
  5. Song of Solomon/ Toni Morrison (novel)
  6. Fun Home/ Alison Bechdel (graphic novel)
  7. Glitter and Glue/ Kelly Corrigan (memoir)
  8. Ice Haven/ Daniel Clowes (graphic novel)
  9. The Interestings/ Meg Wolizer (novel)
  10. The Blue Flower/ Penelope Fitzgerald (novel)
  11. 10:04/ Ben Lerner (novel)
  12. Queenpin/ Meg Abbot (novel)
  13. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man/ James Joyce (novel)
  14. The Awakening/ Kate Chopin (novel)
  15. The Best American Poetry of 2009 (poetry)
  16. How to Meditate/ Pema Chodron (non-fiction)
  17. The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo (ALSO LOVED! Non-fiction)
  18. Praise/ Robert Hass (poetry)
  19. Maus/ Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)
  20. The Uninvited Guests/ Sadie Jones (novel)
  21. Persepolis 2 (graphic novel)
  22. The Round House/ Louise Erdrich (novel)
  23. Far From the Madding Crowd/ Thomas Hardy (novel)
  24. Making Shapely Fiction/ Jerome Stern (non-fiction)
  25. The Kundalini Yoga Experience/ Dharma Singh Khalsa (non-fiction)
  26. Between You & Me/ Mary Norris (memoir)
  27. Vox/ Nicholson Baker (novel)
  28. The Laughing Monsters/ Denis Johnson (novel)
  29. Slaugherhouse-Five/ Kurt Vonnegut (novel)
  30. My Brilliant Friend/ Elena Ferrante (novel)
  31. Paper Towns/ John Green (novel)
  32. Holy the Firm/ Annie Dillard (Creative Non-Fiction)
  33. Poser/ Claire Dederer (memoir)
  34. The Magician’s Feastletters/ Diane Wakowski (poetry)
  35. The Wisdom of Insecurtiy/ Alan Watts (non-fiction)
  36. Food Matter/ Mark Bittman (non-fiction)
  37. In the Woods/ Tana French (novel)
  38. The Likeness/ Tana French (novel)
  39. And When She Was Good/ Laura Lippman (novel)
  40. Brave Enough/ Cheryl Strayed (non-fiction)
  41. Merry Christmas, Baby/ Donna Kaufman (fiction)
  42. How to Relax/ Thich Nhat Hanh (non-fiction)
books for 2016

Want To Read 2016



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More poetry, please.

Children should read more poetry, and not just the rhyming, humorous kind in the style of Prelutsky or Silverstein, though I love those poems too. I guess what I’m saying is that children should read more for the experience of language and how it effects you without having to puzzle out a central idea, because I think it’s extremely difficult to do the work it takes to makes sense of difficult text if you haven’t already developed an appreciation for how words can pluck away at your senses in endless compositions.

The other day I gave my students the Robert Hass poem “TIme and Materials” to read and respond to. Their response in some cases was strong and surprising. “These aren’t even words!”, one student remarked about how as the poem moves on, letters start to disappear, a trick that if you’re open to the play of language strikes you as brilliant. But, if you’ve come to expect that words follow rules and our primary objective is to understand, the tricks of poets can be maddening.

I had a conversation recently where a friend remarked that she couldn’t believe how much homework there is in first grade these days. It’s true. And have you seen the nature of that homework? Is it any wonder that so often the struggle with our best students as English teachers is they are so concrete? Even when the write about poems or fiction, their default is to say “the writer explains”.

I’m probing the edges of other topics here, finding it difficult not to follow the tangents. I started with “children should read more poetry”, and I’m tempted to say what I really mean is something about the impact of over-testing or global economic terror or the information age, but no, what I really mean is just that. By the time they come to me in high school, poetry is far more strange to them than it should be.


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My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book OneMy Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book a while ago and have been thinking about what to write here. This book is the first in a series of four and I felt a little jipped in the end when I realized that in order to get to the bottom of some of the books central mysteries I would have to read all four. I am tempted to do this, though as the summer draws to a close and I’m beginning to think more and more of the stories I’ll teach this coming school year and the books I really wanted to read by the end of summer, it may not be right away. When I do read them, though, I hope they’ll be page turners like the first one, that I can read them all in one long binge. The sense of place created in the story, the mystery, and the looming danger did compel me to finish this book at a faster pace. The aspect of this story that I most want to see through to the end is the strange friendship/rivalry between Elena (narrator) and Lila. Their love and envy are rendered hauntingly real. This story begins in the 1950s when the two girls are primary school friends and takes place is a poor community outside of Naples where distinctions of class, gossip and rumors, and old-world values complicate relationships. The two very different paths the two friends take as they move out of adolescence and into adulthood is a central theme.

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