It’s time for anti-racism

Being a non-racist is no longer enough, and it was never enough, and I see that clearly now. It’s time for anti-racism. It’s actually been time for a long time.

I am deeply saddened by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I stand with Black Americans in condemning violence and systemic racism toward Black people and all people of color. 

I recognize that merely stating these beliefs is not enough.

Here’s my commitment as a book blogger:

I will amplify the voices of Black authors and other authors of color.

I will look for more book bloggers of color to follow.

I acknowledge that I have much to learn about racism and anti-racism, and it’s my responsibility to do that learning. 

On my TBR:

Books specifically about anti-racism

  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Books by Black authors

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates  (it’s time to re-read this book)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  • Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim

What books would you recommend?

What I’ve been reading: April 2020

Reading in the time of global pandemic… Things are not normal for any of us, my friends. And my reading life is way off-kilter (everything is off-kilter!) even though I’m finding that reaching for a book is a necessary tonic at the end of each very long day. 

So for me, reading is more essential than ever. And it’s also in fairly short supply. But it’s enough to replenish my energy and restore some equilibrium. It’s my daily re-set. 

In April, I finished only three books. I’m calling it good. And I’m so thankful for these three books, which truly carried a heavy load for me.

Means of Ascent by Robert A. Caro

3 words: in-depth, cinematic, dramatic

Give this book a whirl if you like… portraits of powerful people, the complex personality of LBJ, in-depth research and scene-building, gorgeous storytelling, thinking about the ends vs the means in politics

 

Passing by Nella Larsen

3 words: lyrical, powerful, interpersonal

Give this book a whirl if you like… Harlem Renaissance writers, #ownvoices, thinking about race, women’s friendships, stories about life choices

 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

3 words: intimate, engaging, compelling

Give this book a whirl if you like… great storytelling, worklife narratives, inside baseball, behind the scenes in therapy, unflinching self-scrutiny

 

So what’s going on in your reading life? Is your reading disrupted? Or are you reading differently these days? 

Stay safe and well, my bookish friends…

Book Bingo: quarantine variation

Many of us are a full month into quarantine, and these are not normal times. 

Raise of hands — how many people have examined their bookshelves and counted the number of TBR books as an emotional comfort tactic?   (Me, too. [My answer: 36])

As I was gazing at my shelves, it occurred to me that we could play Book Bingo quarantine-style… and here’s how that goes. 

On your bookshelves, find books for each category on the bingo card. If you feel so inclined, type your titles into the Comments (or highlight a few that make you especially happy or that are a total stretch or that are so perfect you can hardly stand it). 

I’ll report on my matches in a later post. 

Now… off to my shelves with the bingo card…

Wanna join me?

Comfort reads

Anyone else turning to sure-bet comfort reading right now? I’m right there with you.

When times are uncertain or scary, I gravitate toward books that offer reassurance that things’ll be OK. 

Here are some of my favorite comforting books…

What I’ve been reading: March 2020

As I look back on the books I finished reading in early March, it seems like a lifetime ago. This new strangeness we’re living in… it creates a warped sense of time. And also of experience. When I look at the first couple of books on this list, I think of what a naive, unaware person I was then: quarantine would’ve seemed like something from a dystopian novel. 

But here we are, my friends. And we’re still here — still carrying on and still reading. And that’s something we can be thankful for. I’m glad you’re here. 

 

The March reading list: here it is… 

Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of the Children’s Ship by Deborah Heiligman 

3 words: vivid, urgent, gripping

Give this book a whirl if you like… British children evacuees during WWII, shipwrecks, true tragedy, quiet heroism

 

Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President by Betty Boyd Caroli

3 words: revealing, intimate, behind-the-scenes

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning the role and motivations of Lady Bird Johnson, stories of political partnerships, strong women, the power of subtle influence

 

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

3 words: joyful, quietly enthusiastic, encouraging

Give this book a whirl if you like… developing a philosophy for living, envisioning the worst so you can appreciate what you you have, finding peace, diminishing anxiety

 

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

3 words: atmospheric, menacing, unfolding

Give this book a whirl if you like… #OwnVoices, Southern mystery, current-day Southern plantation tourist site, single mothers

 

Welcome to Replica Dodge by Natalie Ruth Joynton

3 words: introspective, lyrical, intimate

Give this book a whirl if you like… beautifully written memoirs of everyday life, stories of religious conversion, fish out of water narratives, Jewish life, story of a new marriage and building a life together

 

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

3 words: folksy, heartwarming, uplifting

Give this book a whirl if you like… cats, small town America, the importance of libraries to the life of a community, Iowa

 

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

3 words: sobering, nuanced, thoughtful

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning about Japenese American internment camps, blend of a child’s innocence and an adult’s reflections, WWII, memoirs in graphic novel form

 

What have you been reading lately?

What I’ve been reading: February 2020

All month, I had the feeling that I was reading lots of books but not finishing very many of them. I was sampling and bailing, and I was reading books that I’ve had underway since January… and still not finishing them. 

But when I look back at this month’s reading, it’s actually quite a satisfying list. 

Here’s what I read–and finished–this month…

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

3 words: raw, honest, grim but hopeful

Give this book a whirl if you like… overcoming, woman in a downward spiral, confronting racism and sexism, #ownvoices, getting help

 

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

3 words: lyrical, powerful, emotional

Give this book a whirl if you like… modern Native American lives, hockey, survivors of abuse, stories of difficult childhoods, Canadian fiction, #ownvoices 

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

3 words: comforting, bookish, romantic

Give this book a whirl if you like… small town setting, fish out of water, books set in bookstores, friendship through letter writing, reinventing oneself, the power of one person to change people’s lives

 

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

3 words: personal, conversational, unconventional 

Give this book a whirl if you like… personal finance, homestead living, frugality, FIRE movement, young couple charting their own course, stories of personal growth

 

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow

3 words: fast-paced, investigative, disturbing

Give this book a whirl if you like… shocking behind-the-scenes stories of cover-ups of wrongdoing, investigative journalism, #MeToo, Bad Blood

 

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

3 words: irreverant, surprising, engaging

Give this book a whirl if you like… a touch of magical realism, first person narratives, twins, unconventional nannies, quirky characters, politicians in fiction, female friendship

 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

3 words: practical, encouraging, totally do-able

Give this book a whirl if you like… customizable tactics for adding good habits and eliminating bad ones, research-backed strategies, a conversational tone, small steps that can make a big difference

 

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

3 words: informative, surprising, practical 

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning about what motivates us (and what doesn’t), rethinking ways of working and conceptualizing work 

 

What were your favorite books of February?

What I’ve been reading: January 2020

Anyone else with me on this? I love the New Year. I love the promise, the potential, the new start.

I love the goal-setting and leaping out of the gate and the good work ahead.

Hello, 2020. How about let’s be friends.

 

Here’s what my January reading looked like…

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid 

3 words: interpersonal, complex, pageturner

Give this book a whirl if you like… captivating stories about race and power dynamics, #ownvoices novels, Little Fires Everywhere, relationship triangles, deciphering motives 



When the English Fall by David Williams

3 words: matter of fact, somber, good-hearted

Give this book a whirl if you like… the Amish, post-apocalyptic fiction, first-person narrators, a view into another society, a gentle and introspective narrator, characters who have premonitions



The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz

3 words: engrossing, immediate, immersive

Give this book a whirl if you like… old-fashioned mysteries with an updated tone, books in which the author’s real life bleeds into the story, curmudgeonly detectives, sidekick narratives



Do the Work!: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield

3 words: rousing, irreverent, tough love

Give this book a whirl if you like… a tough but encouraging approach to creativity, productivity books that cut through the excuses



A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

3 words: humorous, self-effacing, rollicking 

Give this book a whirl if you like… hiking the Appalachian Trail, fish out of water stories, self-deprecating humor, buddy narratives



Life’s Accessories: A Memoir (and Fashion Guide) by Rachel Levy Lesser

3 words: conversational, relatable, heartfelt

Give this book a whirl if you like… personal essays, clothing as a symbol for different phases of life, memories connected with physical possessions, family life, love and loss

 

 

 

My favorite of the month:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

 

 

What’ve you been reading so far in 2020?

Reading goals for 2020

(Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash)

New year, new goals. Except some of my reading goals are the same old, same old. Tried and true and so very good. I’m excited about the reading year ahead.

Here's what's new in my reading goals this year...

Read long books and savor them

Ever since I read Middlemarch last year and adored it, I’ve had a renewed and enhanced appreciation for really sinking into a long story. I want more of that this year.

Read a classic

See Middlemarch above.

Read an LBJ biography before our trip to Austin

We’re anticipating a trip to Austin this year, and that can only mean one thing: LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, plus a side trip to the LBJ Ranch. Yeah, baby..    

So this geek’s gonna read another volume of the magnificent biography by Robert A. Caro. Kinda a little too excited for normal life.

The same goals as last year, cuz I just adore them that much…

Continue to read at least 20% authors of color

One of the most rewarding reading goals ever. Last year I exceeded my goal, and I have every expectation I’ll do the same this year.

Finish Book Bingo 2020

I’m going for bingo blackout on our Book Bingo 2020 card and I’m totally excited about it.

What are your reading goals this year?

Book Bingo 2019: What I Read

It’s time for the year-end reckoning! (I love this part.)

I completed the Book Bingo 2019 challenge and filled up my whole card.

Overall, as I look at this list of titles, I’m filled with a sense of satisfaction. There’s some good stuff there.

Here’s what I read…

 

Edgar Award: first novel     

A mystery that was nominated for — or won — the Edgar Allan Poe Award for First Novel 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

 

Heroine   

Strong female voice: author, character, or subject

Middlemarch by George Eliot

 

Palate cleanser  

A book that refreshes and balances out what you’ve read lately   

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 

  

Genre-bending  

A book that plays with genre — it might break the rules or be categorized in more than one genre

The River by Peter Heller

 

Gen X author 

A book written by an author born between 1961 and 1981

Bingeworthy British Television: THe Best Brit TV You Can’t Stop Watching by Sarah Cords and Jackie Bailey

 

Odd couple  

A book about an unusual pairing 

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

 

Classic I’ve never read 

A book that’s stood the test of time

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

 

Pushing boundaries  

A book that challenges your worldview or awareness. Or a book whose pioneering character or author breaks new ground. 

Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

 

Explore   

A book that takes you or the character to a new place

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

 

Place Name 

A book with a place name in its title (examples: Looking for Alaska. Or Alaska by Michener). 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow

 

Life hack

A book with a shortcut that makes makes your life (or a character’s life) easier 

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

 

Unbelievable

Nonfiction that’s stranger than fiction, or a novel whose premise you’re not buying 

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

 

Green

A book with a green cover, or a book about nature, money, envy, or any other green thing 

A Student of History by Nina Revoyr

 

Fire

Literal fire, passion, or something burning within 

Passion and Affect by Laurie Colwin

 

Birth

The beginning or a fresh start 

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

 

Romantic

Idealistic or passionate 

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

 

Language

A book with a distinctive voice or a book in translation 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

 

LGBTQ

A book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

 

Novelty Book

A book structured in an unorthodox way 

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 

South Pacific

A book set in, or written by an author from the South Pacific 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

 

Folktale

A story incorporating elements of a myth, legend, or fable 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

 

Map

A book about a journey, a guide to self-discovery, or simply a book with a map in it. 

Internment by Samira Ahmed

 

Deep Dive

An investigative, immersive reading experience

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

 

Unruly Woman

A book about a woman who breaks out of the mold

Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time by Ida Keeling

 

Lost & Found

A story of rebirth or redefining a sense of self 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

 

And now, on to Book Bingo 2020!

 

If you did Book Bingo 2019, please post a link to your wrap-up post in the Comments — I’d love to know what you read!

What I’ve been reading: December 2019

December is for short books. Or at least that’s how it looks for me.

With only a couple of exceptions, the books I read this month were on the shorter side. And given all the busy things that happen in December, maybe that’s all right. 

Here’s the run-down on December’s reading…

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James C. Cain

3 words: gritty, intense, fast-reading 

Give it a whirl if you like… classic noir, anti-heroes, criminal couples, obsession, first person narrative, underbelly

 

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

3 words: vibrant, inspiring, engaging

Give it a whirl if you like… biographies of remarkable women, courageous lives, #ownvoices, learning more about a famous person we think we know about, the Underground Railroad

 

Purple Cow: How to Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

3 words: thought-provoking, conversational, creative

Give it a whirl if you like… marketing books, business books that are fun to read, thinking outside the box

 

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

3 words: nostalgic, warm, coming of age

Give it a whirl if you like… Westerns, first person narratives, coming of age novels, women in the West, school days narratives, stories about teachers

 

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

3 words: tongue-in-cheek, browseable, light

Give it a whirl if you like… short vignettes about libraries, stories of human interactions, behind-the-scenes at a library, people’s wonderful quirks

 

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

3 words: whimsical, quirky, charming

Give it a whirl if you like… warm and wise appreciation of everyday moments, quirky formats, books that are browseable but still compulsively readable, smart feel-good books

 

 

What books were your favorites this month?