Friday, January 29, 2010


Right before the beginning of the year, I had a *click* moment when I realized that I could go to graduate school. But what to study? I spent several months working on my decision. Even though I was still unsure about things, I felt calmer and this is reflected in my reading. There's not so much LitAmnesia for 1998. By the fall of that year, I had begun an MA-TESL course. The work was challenging and sometimes overwhelming at times, but I was happy and excited. Reading for pleasure took a back seat, but that was okay.

1. The Silent Woman (nonfiction) - Janet Malcolm. Exploring poet Sylvia Plath's life, Malcolm interviews Plath's friends and acquaintances during those last years of her life and makes some interesting observations about the nature of biography.

2. Our Noise (novel) - Jeff Gomez. First published as a serialized zine. Excellent portrayal of Generation X. Twenty-something slackers living in the town of Kitty, Virginia. Coffeehouses, thrift stores, flashbacks to the 1980s, a zine called g*df*ck -- what's not to love?

3. Lady Chatterley's Lover (novel) - D. H. Lawrence. I read this book while house-sitting for a friend. She had a waterbed and it seemed like the perfect place to read LCL. I loved Mellors' Yorkshire accent (once I got my eye adjusted to reading the thorny dialect) but I hated that he was the one who made all the pronouncements about love and sex, men and women when Connie probably knew as much (or more) than he did. Love the story, anyway. This is Lawrence's best-known and most controversial novel and I'll argue that it's also Lawrence at his best.

4. In Cold Blood (novel) - Truman Capote. Such a strange combination -- a violent subject coupled with Capote's meticulous, almost delicate prose. Adds to the chill and horror of what happened at the Clutter farmhouse in Kansas on that night back in 1959.

5. Look For The Woman (nonfiction) - J. Robert Nash. A historical encyclopedia of women who were famous (infamous) criminals.

6. Birthday Letters (poetry) - Ted Hughes. After Sylvia Plath committed suicide in 1963, her widower, Ted Hughes began a series of poems chronicling the story of their relationship. This book was published shortly before Hughes' death in 1998.

7. Reviving Ophelia (nonfiction) - Mary Pipher, Ph.D. According to Pipher, so many things can get adolescent girls off track during this crucial part of their development and mess them up permanently regarding their feelings of self-worth. Instead of leaving them to their own devices and also open to traps like boys and sex and the media with its warped messages about body image, they should be encouraged to do volunteer work or sports or similar things in which they can repeatedly prove their capability and develop their gifts with will counteract those other influences and build self-esteem. I highly recommend this book to everyone who knows a girl in this age bracket. It would also be helpful for women who are still carrying unnecessary baggage around.

8. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulumia (memoir) - Marya Hornbacher. The part I remember most vividly is when Hornbacher was making herself throw up so much that the weight of her vomit burst the pipes in her uncle's home. Hornbacher offers as a quick aside that the same problem exists in girls' dormitories and sorority houses at universities all over the US.

9. Cold Mountain (novel) - Charles Frazier. Set during the Civil War, Inman struggles to get back to his true love, Ada, who is experiencing challenges of her own after her father dies. I love Frazier's use of old-fashioned words and phrases while maintaining a modern style.

10. A Patchwork Planet (novel) - Anne Tyler. Barnaby is an ex-juvenile delinquent who still hasn't gotten his life together at the age of 29. He works for an agency called Rent-A-Back which does errands for senior citizens. His well-to-do family is frustrated with him, and his 7-year-old daughter really doesn't know what to make of him. I would love to hear the audiobook version of this novel, which is read by David Morse, an actor that I always enjoy watching.

11. NixonCarver (novel) - Mark Maxwell. An amusing, quirky fantasy about the former president being good buddies with poet/short story writer Raymond Carver. They have long conversations about just about everything. This novel actually made me like Nixon a little better. Lovely portrait of Carver.

12. Fasting: The Ultimate Diet (nonfiction) - Allan Cott, M.D. Yes, it is.

13. High Fidelity (novel) - Nick Hornby. This was my introduction to Hornby's work. Rob Fleming works in a record store and makes lists about music and his life. Since this book takes its title from an Elvis Costello song, I had the nicest earworm going on as I read.

14. Backtalk: Four Steps To Ending Rude Behavior In Your Kids (nonfiction) - Audrey Ricker, Ph.D and Carolyn Crowder, Ph.D. The authors give simple but not easy advice to follow: Recognize backtalk when you hear it (includes eye-rolling and put-upon sighing) and let the child know you recognize it, figure out a consequence for the backtalk, apply the consequence, then disengage from the rude behavior. There's also a chapter for dealing with backtalk in adult children!

15. Fasting: A Neglected Discipline (nonfiction) - David R. Smith. This book discusses fasting as a spiritual practice to be used in conjunction with prayer.

16. Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (nonfiction) - Kathleen Norris. When Norris became interested in church again as an adult, she found the vocabulary of religion a little off-putting because it was often confusingly abstract. This book describes in her calm, lucid and always excellent prose how she was able to make meaning of this language in her own spiritual journey.

17. The Everlasting Story of Nory (novel) - Nicholson Baker. A fun book about life through the eyes of a nine-year-old. As always with Baker's books, it was too short -- I wanted more!

18. Helen and Teacher (biography) - Joseph P. Lash. A starchily dignified and restrained joint biography of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

19. The Fermata (novel) - Nicholson Baker. And everyone thought Vox was dirty! The main character finds a way to pause time and uses this power to undress women and look at them then redress them before starting time again. Very junior high, but Baker keeps it lively and interesting.

20. Fool For Love (play) - Sam Shepard. A half-brother and sister in a rocky love relationship deal with all of their issues in a tacky motel in the Mojave Desert. In spite of everything, I was bored and not propelled to go out and read any more Shepard plays. Too bad -- I really want to like his writing because I really like his acting. Plus, even though he's in his 60s now, he's still really hot.

21. A Widow For One Year (novel) - John Irving. LitAmnesia. Damn. I thought I had it whipped.

22. Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind The Legend (biography) - John E. Miller. A little dry and academic in tone, but an interesting mother-daughter portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. Apparently things weren't always smooth between Laura and Rose. Miller doesn't believe that Lane rewrote her mother's books, but anyone who has read The First Four Years and the other books in the series can see the marked difference. After reading this, I had to make a pilgrimage to Laura's home in the Ozarks, less than two hours from where I lived.

23. Genie: A Scientific Tragedy (nonfiction) - Russ Rymer. Heartbreaking true story of "Genie" who was abused by her father in a particularly odd manner -- nearly from babyhood, he kept her alone in a room tied to a potty chair. No one was allowed to communicate with her and he only "spoke" to her in grunts and growls. Family Services finally got wind of this and rescued Genie when she was a young teenager, but it was too late for her to acquire language except for a word croaked out here and there and some birdlike noises. Interested in this 20th century "wild child", scientists competed to study Genie and test their theories. No one was really focused on getting her the help she needed. Finally, after a court battle, she was returned to her mother who put her in a home for mentally disabled adults. There is also a PBS documentary of this case which features footage of Genie.

24. Anne Sexton: A Biography (biography) - Dianne Wood Middlebrook. Quite controversial, because Middlebrook was allowed access to tapes and notes from Sexton's sessions with her psychiatrist.

25. Interlanguage Phonology: The Acquisition of A Second Language Sound System (nonfiction) - Georgette Ioup and Steven Weinberger, eds. Graduate school reading.

26. How Languages Are Learned (nonfiction) - Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada. More graduate school reading about second language acquisition.

27. Approaches and Methods In Language Learning (nonfiction) - Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers. Historical overview at different ways to learn language. they run the gamut from boring (Grammar-Translation Method) to completely whack (Suggestopedia).

28. The Multilingual Self: An Inquiry Into Language Learning (nonfiction) - Natasha Lvovich. Lvovich, a native of Russia, began studying French when she was young. Because she only used it in an art/culture context, it never really felt like a true second language as English did a few years later when she emigrated to the US with her family and had to operate in English on every possible level. Lvovich also briefly discusses her young daughter's language issues -- the girl's first language is Russian, which they spoke at home, but the daughter didn't like it and was constantly code-switching into English. She told her mother that she "felt ugly" when she had to speak in Russian. Interesting and extremely readable firsthand account of second language learning. You don't have to be an ESL/EFL teacher or a linguistics expert to enjoy this book.

29. Marry Me (novel) - John Updike. Updike returns to one of his favorite themes -- adultery -- in this novel. As much as I enjoy Updike, I felt as if I'd read this book before.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This was a year of feeling -- and actually being -- quite unsettled. I shivered and howled out there in storms of my own making. Somehow, there was still reading. I always had the books and by the end of the year I was seriously working out how I really wanted my life to be.

1. Regeneration (novel) - Pat Barker. Very fine WWI novel. I feel ready for a re-read.

2. A History of Reading (nonfiction) - Alberto Manguel. I remember bits about how a teenaged Manguel read aloud to his fellow Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges and how reading silently used to be viewed as an interesting feat. Manguel explores all facets of reading and books all over the world. Another one I'd like to re-read.

3. Recipes From The Dump (novel) - Abigail Stone. The only thing I remember about this novel is that the author's email was on the back flap where the biographical information is printed. I'd never seen that before, so I sent her an email and she kindly responded.

4. Mary (autobiography) - Mary Mebane. I believe this might be a 2-volume autobiography and I read volume 1. As an African-American coming of age in the 1950s, Mary had to face problems presented by the white world, but she also had to struggle against prejudices in the black community. Intelligent, balanced writing. Received an honorable mention Coretta Scott King Award.

5. Anagrams (novel) - Lorrie Moore. Re-read.

6. Night Bird: Conversations With Francoise Sagan (nonfiction) - Jean-Jacques Pauvert, David Macey (translator). A series of conversations about life, love and work with French novelist Sagan, who is most famous for her novel Bonjour Tristesse. This book was published in 1954 when Sagan was only 18 years old and became an international hit. From that time, Sagan lived a jet-set life which included two husbands, two children, lovers of both gender, fast cars, gambling and drugs. In her conversations with Pauvert, which were done in the late 1970s, she comes off quite existential.

7. A Live Coal In The Sea (novel) - Madeleine L'Engle. I don't remember anything about this novel.

8. After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie (novel) - Jean Rhys. I was captivated by Rhys' stark portrait of Julia Martin, who was once young and beautiful and has lived off of men all her adult life. Not really willing to make the compromises needed to keep these relationships going, she finds new prospects getting fewer and farther between and she's living out her life in dingy hotels, scraping for money.

9. Good Morning, Midnight (novel) - Jean Rhys. Sasha Jensen is living in Paris, if you can call it living. She's definitely at the end of her rope, living in a dismal room, drinking constantly and worried about money. She's bitter, angry and afraid of the human race in general, referring to them as a "pack of hyenas." She gets involved with a younger man who works as a gigolo, but hasn't got the energy to put into an affair.l Depressing, but so well written. Good Morning, Midnight is so angry and bleak that there immediately sprang up a false rumor that Jean Rhys had committed suicide shortly after writing this novel.

10. Voyage In The Dark (novel) - Jean Rhys. Anna is a younger version of Sasha and Julia. She's just come to England from the West Indies and works some underpaid job in the theatre. An older man makes her his mistress then tires of her, bringing on the familiar Rhys-ian downward spiral.

11. Bonjour Tristesse (novel) - Francoise Sagan. With its talk of affairs and mistresses, this novel seemed so very French to me. Teenage Cecilie enjoys life with her free-spirited, easygoing father, and she's also embarking on a summer romance. The merde hits the fan when she realizes that her father and her mother's old friend, Anne are falling in love. Cecilie enlists her new boyfriend in a plot to keep her father from remarrying.

12. Bird By Bird (nonfiction) - Anne Lamott. Funny and perceptive advice about writing. I especially loved Lamott's advice for avoiding a libel suit!

13. Rosie (novel) - Anne Lamott. LitAmnesia.

14. Quartet (novel) - Jean Rhys. I think this was one of her early ones and not quite as well crafted as the others.

15. Alias Grace (novel) - Margaret Atwood. Grace is in prison, but is she really a murderess? Based on a true case in 19th c. Canada.

16. The Rector's Wife (novel) - Joanna Trollope. Tidy little vignettes strung together. Almost too chill and neat as if she was writing the novel to go straight to Masterpiece Theatre.

17. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year (nonfiction) - Anne Lamott. Whenever my coolest friends are expecting their first child, I present this book to them.

18. I Was Amelia Earhart (novel) - Jane Mendelsohn. Fantasy about Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan surviving the 1937 disappearance and living on some island. It reads like prose poetry. I had just seen The Piano when I read this book, so I've always imagined it as a film by Jane Campion.

19. Hard Laughter (novel) - Anne Lamott. Lamott's fiction doesn't stay with me as well as her nonfiction. LitAmnesia.

20. Wide Sargasso Sea (novel) - Jean Rhys. The story of Antoinette Bertha Mason of the West Indies before she married Edward Rochester and became the madwoman in the attic featured in Jane Eyre.

21. The Soul Of A New Machine (nonfiction) - Tracy Kidder. Although I'm a Kidder fan, this one was a bit of a slog for me with all the technical jargon.

22. Drinking: A Love Story (memoir) - Caroline Knapp. Knapp's account of her years as a functioning alcoholic. It's scary because she shows the sheer attractiveness of alcohol addiction. This memoir also contains one of the most insufferable ex-boyfriends to ever walk the face of the earth, and Knapp does a great job of poking sly fun at him.

23. We Were The Mulvaneys (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates. LitAmnesia.

24. The Family Nobody Wanted (memoir) - Helen Doss. The Dosses were one of the first families in the United States to support adoption of children of different or mixed races. Altogether, they adopted 12 children.

25. A Very Private Eye (memoir) - Barbara Pym. LitAmnesia.

26. The Long Loneliness (autobiography) - Dorothy Day. Day is one of the prominent figures in the history of "social Christianity". During her life, she moved from anarchism to socialism to Catholicism. She founded a newspaper called The Catholic Worker and opened "Houses of Hospitality" in the inner cities and later on farms where communes of people could settle. During wartime, she and the newspaper maintained a pacifistic stance. Day died in 1980, a revered figure in the American Catholic church. She is in the first stage of being considered for sainthood. A movie about her life called Entertaining Angels came out about 10 years ago.

27. Zines! (nonfiction) - V. Vale. Before there were blogs, people did fanzines, or zines, for short. This compilation features samples from the best, including Mystery Date by Lynn Peril and Thrift Score by Al Hoff as well as frank, in-depth interviews with their creators. Blogging is wonderful, but I sometimes miss the days of wielding The Big Stapler.

28. A Clockwork Orange (novel) - Anthony Burgess. Classic dystopian novel about Alex and his hoodlum friends. I read an edition that had a glossary at the back for Alex's strange slang, which Burgess created for the novel. That edition also omitted the final chapter in which Alex expresses remorse for his former violent behavior.

29. Five For Sorrow, Ten For Joy (novel) - Rumer Godden. A woman who has had hard knocks throughout her life and has worked as a prostitute, ends up at a convent and gradually changes her life and becomes a nun.
30. A Time To Dance, No Time To Weep (memoir) - Rumer Godden. LitAmnesia.

31. Crooked Little Heart (novel) - Anne Lamott. I know that this is the sequel to Rosie, but that's all I remember.

32. Anna LMNO (novel) - Sarah Glasscock. Anna works at one of the beauty shops in her little Texas town. She's saving her money to buy the shop from the owner. Meanwhile, she's been married almost 2 years to a South Africian named Bryan who needed a green card and is involved in some mysterious activities. There's a lot going on in this novel and Anna is a memorable character. I feel a residue of discomfort for liking this book because in a fit of enthusiasm I gave a copy of it to my friend for Christmas. She dutifully read it, but her thank-you note contained a scathing review. I had always assumed that my opinions were shit compared to hers, so I promptly gave my copy to the nearest used bookstore. A few years later I was feeling ever-so-much smarter and found another copy at Larry McMurtry's bookstore in Archer City. It was one of 3 books I grabbed that day. Whether my opinion is shit or not, I LOVE this goddamn book. It's part of my landscape.

33. Joy School (novel) - Elizabeth Berg. I can't understand why this author's novels don't stay with me. LitAmnesia.

34. The Invisible Circus (novel) - Jennifer Egan. LitAmnesia.

35. Love Invents Us (novel) - Amy Bloom. LitAmnesia and I feel bad about it.

36. The Cloister Walk (nonfiction) - Kathleen Norris. Norris, who was raised Protestant has been a Benedictine oblate for many years at a convent in Minnesota. This book covers one liturgical year that she spent full-time at the convent. Her prose is so clear and penetrating. I'd love to read this one again.

37. Bogart (biography) - Jeffrey Meyers. An enjoyable look writing at my favorite actor. I'd also like to read the Sperber-Lax bio as well as the 2006 book by film critic and historian Richard Schickel. What can I say? I'm a fan!

38. The Nuns (nonfiction) - Marcelle Bernstein. LitAmnesia.

39. Henry and Clara (novel)- Thomas Mallon. A novel about the couple who was seated in the balcony with President and Mrs. Lincoln at Ford's Theatre on the night Lincoln was assassinated. Their lives were full of twists and turns and sadly, they came to an end as grisly and shocking as Lincoln's.

40. The Seven Storey Mountain (autobiography) - Thomas Merton. Like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton had a long and circuitous path towards the religious life. He eventually became a Trappist monk at Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky. Recognized as a brilliant writer even before he took vows, his writing and philosophy gave him a large worldwide following.

41. Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs (nonfiction) - Dave Barry. Barry polled readers of his column and published the winners, er..losers. I remember we all agreed about MacArthur Park.

42. Fraud (novel) - Anita Brookner. LitAmnesia. I'm sorry to say that I don't really recall plots or characters in Brookner's novels, either.

43. American Appetites (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates. The only thing I remember is that there's an accidental killing and the victim is some kind of food writer.

44. Love Warps The Mind A Little (novel) - John Dufresne. Shit! I really hate that I have LitAmnesia. I love that title!

45. Songs In Ordinary Time (novel) - Mary McGarry Morris. LitAmnesia.

46. Angela's Ashes (memoir) - Frank McCourt. McCourt's look back at his brutally poverty-stricken childhood in Limerick, Ireland during the 1930s and 40s. The first line of the book says something about how his parents should have stayed in New York City where they met and married and where Frank was born. That's damn right!

47. Bad Angel (novel) - Helen Benedict. LitAmnesia.

48. What Falls Away (memoir) - Mia Farrow. Farrow's life story, including her relationship and scandal-ridden split with Woody Allen. Written a couple of years after these events, WFA reads as if Farrow was still dazed by it all.

49. Snow Falling On Cedars (novel) - David Guterson. In the 1950s, a Japanese-American man living near Pugent Sound in Washington State is accused of murder. The autopsy scene in this book was so graphic that I had to stop reading and go throw up. Now that's good writing!

50. Pretty Boy Floyd (novel) - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. The life and times of Charles Floyd, the famous 1930s outlaw from Oklahoma. This book has a lovely feel of the southwest that only McMurtry could provide.

51. Zeke & Ned (novel) - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. A look at the last two Cherokee warriors, Zeke Proctor and Ned Christie. Ned has been accused of murder and has a several year's standoff with the US government, who wants to bring him to Fort Smith, Arkansas for hanging. Christie's standoff is told in sort of a strangely humorous sort of way.

52. A Virtuous Woman (novel) - Kaye Gibbons. I read her novels, but I can only remember Ellen Foster, her first one.

53. Staring At The Sun (novel) - Julian Barnes. And 1997 ends with LitAmnesia in my Christmas stocking. Ho ho ho.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


1996 found me doing a great deal of rereading. One good thing about rereading is that LitAmnesia is less likely to occur.

1. The Snapper (novel) - Roddy Doyle. Re-read.

2. Zombie (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates. Oates gets into the mind of a serial killer who resembles Jeffrey Dahmer. She seems almost too comfortable in his skin. Chilling stuff.

3. A Prologue To Love (novel) - Taylor Caldwell. Re-read. Novel about the world's richest woman, an American named Caroline Ames Sheldon, and how various people in her life influenced her. Takes place in the years shortly after the Civil War and leading up to World War I. A little heavy handed, but good storytelling. I've always thought this could make a halfway decent movie.

4. Listening To Prozac (nonfiction) - Peter Kramer. Kramer discusses the different ways Prozac works on brain chemistry and presents testimonial after testimonial from people whose lives were miraculously changed by the little pill. I always meant to read Talking Back To Prozac, but never got around to it.

5. The Story of English (nonfiction) - MacNeil, Cran and McCrum. This was entertaining...I watched the PBS series as well. I love English so much; I'm soooooooo glad it's my native language. Thanks, Mom! Thanks, Dad!

6. Vox (novel) - Nicholson Baker. What I liked best about this novel, which takes place during a single phone sex conversation between two strangers is the recipe the woman gives for creamed dried beef and spiral pasta. Although I snickered appreciatively when she said that the pasta and the creamed dried beef sauce "make a sensual noise" when stirred together, after I read this book that dish went into the weekly rotation of meals. She used Stouffer's mix, but it's cheaper if you buy the dried beef in a jar and make your own sauce. Also, if the beef is too salty, you can rinse the stuff in the jar off a bit, which makes it a shade less unhealthy. Dang, I wish I had some now!

7. How The Irish Saved Civilization (nonfiction) - Thomas Cahill. I would really like to read this book again. Basically, while the Germanic tribes and the Vikings were running around ransacking Europe, the Irish monks were copying and hiding manuscripts that would have been irretrievably lost in the chaos and destruction.

8. Room Temperature (novel) - Nicholson Baker. A man looks at his life while he's doing a single nighttime bottle feeding of his infant child. I can't remember if the baby is a boy or girl.

9. Will Campbell and the Soul of the South (nonfiction) - Thomas L. Connelly. Will Campbell was an interesting person. As a pastor, first he ministered to black people in the South during the 1950s and 60s when it was quite dangerous to do so. Then, after the civil rights movement had gained some footing, he decided to minister to poor white racist people, saying that they couldn't help how their society had made them, and they needed grace most of all. His creed is that of St. Paul: "Be reconciled."

10. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (novel) - Roddy Doyle. It's difficult to read the story of battered wife Paula Spencer, although from the way the story is written, the reader can see she's emerging from the worst of it. I would like to read the sequel to this book.

11. Letters To Alice On First Reading Jane Austen (novel) - Fay Weldon. In this epistolary novel, an aunt writes to her niece about Jane Austen. I remember the niece is struggling with her life, her novel and that she had green, spiky hair! A fun read for Austen fans.

12. Harriet Said... (novel) - Beryl Bainbridge. I vaguely remember two creepy little girls living in a resort town and making a game out of flirting with men and writing about it in a shared notebook.

13. Tony and Susan (novel) - Austin Wright. Now how could I forget a novel with my first name in the title?

14. Such Nice People (novel) - Sandra Scoppettone. She's a wonderful writer, but I seriously don't remember this book. I feel bad about that.

15. Clutter Control (nonfiction) - Jeff Campbell. Campbell wrote a series of books about how to clean and organize. I wish he could come and take my apartment in hand!

16. Rabbit, Run (novel) - John Updike. Re-read. How can such a despicable character like Rabbit Angstrom grab my heartstrings so hard?

17. Gardening For Dummies (nonfiction) - I liked the compost chapter the best, which speaks volumes about my gardening interest and skills.

18. The Budget Gardener (nonfiction) - Maureen Gilner. A lot of useful information. -- I remember feeling sorry that this was a library book.

19. Celestial Navigation (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. During this next spate of Anne Tyler re-reading, I was clearly using reading to comfort myself. I think it's probably because I hated my job.

20. A Slipping-Down Life (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. This early novel of Tyler's is one of my favorites.

21. Morgan's Passing (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. Another Tyler favorite. I picked this up at Waldenbooks in the early 80s because the blurb on the front said that Morgan was like Garp, which was my favorite book at the time.

22. Searching For Caleb (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read.

23. Family Terrorists (novella and short stories) - Antonya Nelson. Sigh. All that Tyler left me with LitAmnesia!

24. Intuitive Eating (nonfiction) - Evelyn Tribole, M.S. R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S. R.D. I was in a TOPS group for a while and we took turns making presentations about eating healthily and getting the weight off. I did a book report about this book. We have to retrain ourselves to listen to our bodies tell us when they're really hungry and be aware of all the signals that masquerade as hunger. Also, if we start listening to our bodies, they'll tell us what we need to eat, like veggies and such. There was also a list of the different types of overeaters...the darkest one and the one that I couldn't quite wrap my head around was eating to punish oneself. Dark, disturbing. Overall, it was an informative, interesting read.

25. In The Beauty of the Lillies (novel) - John Updike. A multigenerational saga about religion in America. I seem to remember one of the characters falling into a cult that was like the Branch Davidians. I'd like to read this again. Changing the topic a little -- does anyone else have this problem: When a book is named after a song title or a bit of lyric, does the song play in your head constantly?

26. War and Peace (novel) - Leo Tolstoy. I have to admit that I ended up skimming most of the epilogue. Great novel, though.

27. Esio Trot (novel) - Roald Dahl. A mother-son read.

28. Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams (biography) - Lyle Leverich. I haven't read the Donald Spoto biography of Williams, but it seems a little more sensational than this one.

29. A Simple Path (nonfiction) - Mother Teresa.

30. Rabbit Is Rich (novel) - John Updike. Rabbit is 46 in this novel. His father-in-law has died and left the car dealership (now Toyota) to him. His son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant, so Rabbit is looking at grandparenthood. Age doesn't seem to have slowed him or Janice down; there's some icky and tacky 1970s stuff here like wife-swapping.

31. A Little Princess (novel) - Frances Hodgson Burnett. Re-read.

32. Anna Karenina (novel) - Leo Tolstoy. I liked this better than War and Peace, but again, the last chapter was too much. I don't really want pages and pages and pages and pages of Tolstoy's philosophy unless he can wrap it around some plot.

33. A Death In The Family (novel) - James Agee. Sad story about the death of the young father of a family who is killed in an automobile wreck as he goes to see about his own mortally ill father and how his death affects his wife and young children. Ironically, Agee would die and leave a young family before this book was completed. A family friend who was also an editor took the manuscript in hand and got it published to get money for the widow and 2 children. Winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

34. Mary and the Giant (novel) - Philip K. Dick. Dick's mainstream fiction from the 1950s, before he broke through as a successful science fiction writer.

35. The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (novel) - Philip K. Dick. More mainstream Dick from the same period. It's interesting to read his material from this period, but frustrating. How is it that his work didn't catch fire? It's really wonderful stuff.

36. David Copperfield (novel) - Charles Dickens. This was my first full-scale attempt at Dickens, but I didn't care for this novel. I shied away from him for years after this but finally felt some love in 2008 and 2009 when I read Great Expectations and The Old Curiosity Shop. Maybe I just finally got to the right time in my life for Dickens...who knows?

37. Puttering About In A Small Land (novel) - Philip K. Dick. Another mainstream novel, written in 1957. I believe this one is about a guy who owns a TV repair shop. His son goes off to boarding school, somehow adultery is a large part of the plot. Quirky and a great look at postwar America.

38. The Distinguished Guest (novel) - Sue Miller. I don't know why Sue Miller's novels don't stick with me. She and Kaye Gibbons.

39. The English Patient (novel) - Michael Ondaatje. Beautiful novel with unlikely characters coming together. I loved the language in this book and enjoyed the movie.

Fiction: 29

Nonfiction: 10

Male authors: 23

Female authors: 16

Books with multiple authors: 2

Canada: 1

Russia: 2

Ireland: 2

England: 4

USA: 30

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


In April of 1995, I got a job working 6 hours a day, 6 days a week and it really cut into my reading time. There was no way to sneak and read on the clock at my job. Believe me, I tried several times!

1. The Good Husband (novel) - Gail Godwin. One of the main characters is dying and her husband takes care of her. Another woman also becomes her caretaker and she and the husband develop feelings for one another but they're too well-bred to do anything about it until he's widowed.

2. Talk Before Sleep (novel) - Elizabeth Berg. Is someone dying in this novel? I have a vague memory.

3. The Prodigal Women (novel) - Nancy Hale. First published in the early 1940s. It's time for this novel and this author to be rediscovered.

4. Postcards (novel) - E. Annie Proulx. Loyal Blood accidentally kills his girlfriend and goes on the lam for about 40 years. He sends postcards from the west back home to his family in Vermont. They also write postcards for a variety of reasons.

5. A Tremor of Bliss: Contemporary Writers On The Saints (essays) - Paul Elie, editor. What the subtitle says. It's interesting to see which writers chose which saints and why.

6. Flying in Place (novel) - Susan Palwick. I don't remember this novel.

7. Violet Clay (novel) - Gail Godwin. The writing seemed a little stiff. This was an earlier novel of Godwin's and I don't think she had really hit her stride yet.

8. Friends For Life (novel) - Meg Wolitzer. Cute. Fun. I always like Wolitzer's writing.

9. Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? (novel) - Lorrie Moore. I really love Anagrams, but I couldn't warm up to this one. I kind of dislike the title as well.

10. The Nun's Story (novel) - Kathryn Hulme. This was a re-read from my high school days. What can I say? I love this book, although nowadays, Sister Luke seems a little too intense to be true.

11. Three Nuns (nonfiction) - Sarah Harris. Terrible writing style.

12. Holy Company: Christian Heroes and Heroines (essays) - Eliot Wright. Lively, informative and enjoyable. An assortment of Christian heroes and heroines, each one a chapter and arranged by the Beatitudes.

13. A Map of the World (novel) - Jane Hamilton. Alice is taking care of her friend's kids one day. She turns her back for a moment and the 2-year-old drowns in the pond. Her troubles are just beginning though, as she is accused of child abuse by a student she has seen at her part-time job as a school nurse. The book is divided into 3 sections. Alice narrates the first and last and her husband narrates the middle section, which feels a little jarring. Enjoyable in that bleak and depressing way.

14. A Right To Be Merry (memoir) - Sister Mary Francis, P.C.C. Life in a Poor Clares convent. Although it's a little too perky and positive, it was a relief after book after book about what's wrong with being a nun and why nuns were leaving convents in hordes during the 1960s and 70s.

15. The Book of Ruth (novel) - Jane Hamilton. Ruth is saddled with two of the most unsavory characters in recent modern fiction: Her mother, May, whose mean, toxic mouth proves to be her undoing and her husband, Ruby, who is very much on the scuzzy side of life. The way Ruth/Hamilton describes him, you wonder how Ruth could even inhabit a room with him, much less get pregnant by him twice. So dark and depressing but so well-written.

16. Duplicate Keys (novel) - Jane Smiley. A mystery/suspense novel; one of Smiley's earlier efforts. Nothing wrong it it -- just not my type of book.

17. The Screwtape Letters (novel) - C.S. Lewis. A series of letters from Screwtape, a master tempter-tactician to Wormwood, his incompetent apprentice. This is my very favorite of all of Lewis' writing.

18. The Virgin Suicides (novel) - Jeffrey Eugenides. I didn't like it. The narration seemed all wrong.

19. The Stone Diaries (novel) - Carol Shields. This strange and clever Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows Daisy from her childhood to her first brief and strange marriage, her widowhood, her second marriage to an older family friend, her second widowhood and her old age. The photos at the end of the novel are disconcerting. Who are these people?

20. Mariette In Ecstasy (novel) - Mariette's a nun. She's having visions. Is she a saint or high-strung or just out-and-out faking? No one really knows what to make of it all. The other nuns are awed and a little jealous.

21. Dancer With Bruised Knees (novel) - Lynne McFall. I don't remember this novel.

22. Ladder of Years (novel) - Anne Tyler. Delia just walks away from her home one day and makes a new life for herself away from Baltimore and her doctor husband and their children. She is annoyed that when they write the missing person's description, they can't even get her basic stats right.

23. The Basketball Diaries (memoir) - Jim Carroll. Muddled and boring.

24. Splendora (novel) - Edward Swift. I don't remember this novel.

25. Kristin Lavransdatter (trilogy of novels) - Sigrid Undset. Wow! The story of Kristin's life is unforgettable and unputdownable. Undset does medieval so perfectly. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature and deservedly so. Standing ovation!

26. The Information (novel) - Martin Amis. I don't remember this novel. My first husband was a big Martin Amis fan. I read it because he read it and because I thought it would make me seem edgy and intelligent, but all I got was LitAmnesia. Sniff.

27. Madame Bovary (novel) - Gustave Flaubert. How did Flaubert manage it? He wrote a novel about a 19th century airhead that readers find themselves sympathizing with. The key is his no-nonsense now-flowery writing style. It packs a bigger punch than if he'd written in the overblown, sentimental style that Emma Bovary herself was so fond of reading.

28. The Republic of Love (novel) - Carol Shields. Damn. LitAmnesia strikes again.

29. I, Asimov: A Memoir (memoir) - Issac Asimov. Entertaining and very readable memoir by the prolific writer.

30. One Writer's Beginnings (memoir) - Eudora Welty. Wonderful depiction of Welty's family and her childhood in Jackson, Mississippi. It seems to flag a little at the end when she's in college, then working.

31. The Liar's Club (memoir) - Mary Karr. I should remember this book! Oh well, I can fix it by reading her trilogy of memoirs The Liar's Club, Cherry and Lit all in one fell swoop.

32. Bogart: In Search of My Father (memoir) - Stephen Humphrey Bogart. Sad and thoughtful. He was just a small boy when his father died.

33. Sights Unseen (novel) - Kaye Gibbons. LitAmnesia. I don't know why Gibbons' novels don't stick with me.

34. Diary of A Fat Housewife (memoir) - Rosemary Green. Former beauty queen struggles with her weight. Each diary entry begins with that day's number on the scale. She has a huge eating disorder. By the end of the book, she's made some good progress, but she's stalled at 208 and still struggling, so I liked that she wasn't all wrapped up neatly in a size 4 at the end.

35. Three Women At The Water's Edge (novel) - Nancy Thayer. I'll never forget the beginning in which a woman is told by one of her husband's patients that she looks like Mrs. Santa Claus because she's plump and her gray hair is permed. That comment acts as a catalyst -- she goes on an extreme diet, ditches the perm, dyes her hair, leaves her husband and moves to Vancouver! The rest of the novel has nice domestic details about this character and her two daughters.

36. Travels With Lizbeth (memoir) - Lars Eighner. Eighner, a homeless guy with a dog is living on the streets of Austin, Texas. He has several chances to be housed again, but the condition is always that he must part with Lizbeth, which he refuses to do. This book stuck in my mind. I'd read it again. Anytime. Highly recommended.

37. Last House (memoir) - M.F.K. Fisher

38. Among Friends (memoir) - M.F.K. Fisher

39. Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me (memoir) - M.F.K. Fisher. I started out actually wanting to read Fisher's How To Cook A Wolf, but couldn't find it so I read these three memoirs instead. Her writing is gorgeous; I feel like I could just melt into her prose.

40. The Van (novel) - Roddy Doyle. I read this book in 1993 and loved it so much I was ready for a re-read in 1994.

Fiction: 28
Nonfiction: 14

Books by male authors: 13
Books by female authors: 29

Re-Reads: 2

Saturday, January 9, 2010


In 1994, I didn't work outside the home, so I was able to cover a lot of ground with reading. The library was practically my second home.

1. The Interior Castle: The Life and Art of Jean Stafford (nonfiction) - Ann Hulbert. I had read a 1988 biography of Stafford by David Roberts that I liked so much better chiefly because of the narrative flow. By contrast, Hulbert's writing seems so flat. Zzzzzzz.

2. Clockers (novel) - Richard Price. I really enjoyed this novel about Strike, a young drug dealer with a stomach ulcer; his older brother Victor, who's trying to get his young family out of their bad neighborhood in New Jersey and Rocco the homicide detective. I'm up for a reread and I want to see the 1995 Spike Lee movie, too.

3. Maybe The Moon (novel) - Armisted Maupin. I don't remember this book. I hope that the 1994 list won't show so much LitAmnesia.

4. Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend (nonfiction) - David Shipman. A well-researched and excellently written biography of Judy Garland. Read this one, NOT the putrid Get Happy by Gerald Clarke. Please.

5. Father Melancholy's Daughter (novel) - Gail Godwin. This story of Margaret, the 21-year-old daughter of an Episcopalian priest, was my favorite novel for this year. I blush to admit that it's also the reason I joined the Episcopalian Church and got very interested in religion for a while.

6. Love and Reruns in Adams County (novel) - Mark Spencer. A comic and poignant novel about Lon, a high school baseball star who has just struck out of the minor leagues and Pamela, his ex-wife who was a golden girl in high school but is now working at the golden arches. If you see this at a library or in a used bookstore, grab it. You won't be disappointed.

7. Love Medicine (novel) - Louise Erdrich. I don't remember anything about this book, but I've got an uneasy feeling that I should. Isn't Erdrich kind of an important author?

8. Domestic Life (novel) - Paula Webb. I don't remember anything about this book.

9. The Robber Bride (novel) - Margaret Atwood. Man-stealing frenemy Zenia is such a great villain. Imagine giving yourself scurvy just to trick everyone into thinking you have a fatal disease! Atwood has a lot of fun with this one, and I did, too.

10. The Van (novel) - Roddy Doyle. I read The Barrytown Trilogy out of order, starting with the last in the series, but I think it's the best. Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr. is out of work and his best friend, Bimbo, has just been made redundant at his bakery. Bimbo comes into some money and decides to buy a fish-and-chips van. Jimmy goes in with him as a partner with often mixed and mostly comic results. There are some perfect, poignant moments that preview Doyle's later, more serious work. The action takes place in 1990 around the time of the FIFA World Cup.

11. Daphne Du Maurier (biography) - Margaret Forster. I got the impression from this biography that Du Maurier didn't really like writing all that much and that it didn't come easily for her. I'm so glad she pressed on and wrote Rebecca!

12. The Snapper (novel) - Roddy Doyle. This is the second novel in The Barrytown Trilogy. Sharon Rabbitte is pregnant and not saying who's responsible. Of course all of Barrytown is dying to know. Hilarious!

13. The Commitments (novel) - Roddy Doyle. The first novel in The Barrytown Trilogy. I saw the movie first and although the book and movie are similar, I slightly prefer the movie. Well, it is about music, so it's best as an auditory experience. But you should read the book, too!

14. Exposure (novel) - Kathryn Harrison. I don't remember anything about this novel.

15. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (novel) - Roddy Doyle. Doyle is great at portraying childhood. This seems to be a transition novel for him -- it has some funny bits like The Barrytown Trilogy, but it's more serious in tone like his follow-up novel The Woman Who Walked Into Doors.

16. Straight Through The Night (novel) - Edward Allen. Chuck Deckle is downwardly mobile. He's a quasi-intellectual who's now working as a butcher for a kosher meat processing company. His coworkers are mean and stupid and ridicule him at every turn. Chuck excuses them at first and gives them every opportunity to become at least cordial, but his slow-simmering rage becomes progressively ugly. A well-written but bleak novel.

17. She Needed Me (novel) - Walter Kirn. I don't remember anything about this novel.

18. Brightness Falls (novel) - Jay McInerney. I have a vague impression that this novel is about the greedy old 1980s and it's big and bloated like that decade.

19. Animal Farm (novel) - George Orwell. Another mother-son read. My husband was laughing at the satire as we read and my 9-year-old son wanted to know what was so funny, so he got the whole Communism subtext right then and there.

20. The Orton Diaries (nonfiction) - Joe Orton, John Lahr, editor. John Lahr does a great job of presenting the short life of playwright Joe Orton, who was an edgy character. Orton was murdered by his lover, who then committed suicide.

21. Old Friends (nonfiction) -Tracy Kidder. Tracy Kidder spends time in a nursing home. Excellent book, intelligent and satisfying -- exactly what you'd expect from Kidder.

22. Skipped Parts (novel) - Tim Sandlin. Although the premise for this novel made my skin crawl, I still thought it was somewhat interesting: It's the early 1960s. A 13-year-old boy and his mother have been 'exiled' to Wyoming from the south by the boy's grandfather because of the mother's embarrassing behavior. The boy meets a girl at his new school and they hit it off. Soon, the boy's mother is encouraging them to take it to the limit. WTF??? They do, and soon these middle-schoolers are expectant parents. Anyway, even though all of this sounds appalling, I think it could have worked in the hands of a different writer. As it is, the writing is actually pretty dull. What a strange combination.

23. The Devil's Dream (novel) - Lee Smith. I don't remember anything about this novel.

24. The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien (novel) - Oscar Hijuelos. Oh boy, here we go again with the LitAmnesia!

25. You Might As Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker (biography) - John Keats. This biographer spent a lot of time asserting that Parker didn't say a lot of those witty and scathing things she's famous for. Disappointing, but still an interesting look at the writer and the times in which she lived.

26. Black Mountain Breakdown (novel) - Lee Smith. I don't remember anything about this novel.

27. Prick Up Your Ears (biography) - John Lahr. Biography of playwright Joe Orton who was the darling of the London stage in the 1960s. He seems to have been a prankish sort all of his life -- he went to prison for a while for defacing library books! Later on, this humour would show up in the plays that he wrote, where he's just basically fucking with the audience. He was fond of the fast life and was violently murdered by his male lover who committed suicide directly after killing Orton.

28. Kicking Tomorrow (novel) -Daniel Richler. LitAmnesia. Someone should have taken me off novels completely at this point in my life.

29. Long Quiet Highway (nonfiction) - Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg writes more about her Zen journey here and how her Zen master influenced her life. Interesting to compare it to #36 for this year.

30. Primitive People (novel) - Francine Prose. You see? I can remember nonfiction; it's only novels that I'm blanking on!

31. Different Seasons (4 novellas) - Stephen King. All four of these novellas were adapted into successful movies. My favorite in the collection is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. When I recommend King to the small handful of people who haven't read him yet, I always mention this book and Misery.

32. For Love (novel) - Sue Miller. LitAmnesia again. Sigh.

33. Sin (novel) - Josephine Hart. I don't remember what this novel is about, but I have a strong impression that it's a piece of crap. Maybe I'm wrong.

34. Feather Crowns (novel) - Bobbie Ann Mason. This bout of LitAmnesia makes me feel really bad. Bobbie Ann Mason was my idol in the early 80s. I even cried once when someone in my book group said that he hated hated hated the stories in Shiloh.

35. The Great Divorce (novel) - Valerie Martin
I don't remember anything about this novel. What was I doing, just flipping pages at intervals?
36. The Empty Mirror (nonfiction) - Janwillem van de Wetering. In the late 1950s, a Dutch guy shows up at a Japanese Zen monastery and stays there for several months, trying to learn the right path. This book is decidedly not like other Zen encounters that usually sound wide-eyed, perky and dripping with understanding and enlightenment. No, de Wetering is often grumpy and frustrated. Even at the end, he leaves the monastery not sure if the whole thing was a waste of time. A quick and humorous read.

37. The Lilac Bus (short stories) - Maeve Binchy. Binchy is great comfort reading. Grab some hot chocolate and an afghan and curl up on the couch with this book.


38. The Light In The Forest (novel) - Conrad Richter. I hate that I can't remember this book because I'm such a big fan of his Awakening Land trilogy.

39. Cadillac Jack (novel) - Larry McMurtry. The great characters you've come to expect from McMurtry against the backdrop of the flea market circuit.

40. Fade (novel) - Robert Cormier. Paul has discovered that he can fade away to nothingness. this is a family trait that his uncle also shares, as well as generations subsequent to Paul's.

41. Marlene Dietrich (biography) - Maria Riva. This biography is by Dietrich's only child. It's very well done, very intelligent.

42. Oh! (novel) - Mary Robison. I don't remember anything about this novel.

43. Miss Lonelyhearts (novel) - Nathanael West. An unnamed newspaper writer known to us only as "Miss Lonelyhearts" answers letters for a lovelorn column. He starts to feel the overwhelming responsibility of saving all those who write to him. His editor, a real bastard, ridicules both his finer feelings and those people who send letters. In the process, he destroys Miss Lonelyhearts.

44. Souls Raised From The Dead (novel) - Doris Betts. I have no memory of this novel.

45. Louisa May: A Modern Biography of Louisa May Alcott (biography) - Martha Saxon. This seems more like a joint biography of Louisa and her father, Bronson. Saxon tries to assert that LMA was in love with Thoreau, but her evidence seems weak. Also, she gets something wrong about Little Women. It was minor, but it sticks in my craw and lessened my enjoyment of this biography.

46. In A Country of Mothers (novel) A. M. Homes. LitAmnesia again. Damn.

47. Portrait of a Marriage (biography) - Nigel Nicolson. Nicolson is the son of vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Another interesting and intelligent biography by a child with famous and unconventional parents.

48. Kate Chopin (biography) - Emily Toth. A little boring in places, but still okay.

49. On Cukor (nonfiction) - Gavin Lambert. Interviews with director George Cukor as he discusses his film. Respectful commentary by Lambert. They both love and breathe film and the shining results show in this book. Great movie stills as well.

50. The Shipping News (novel) - E. Annie Proulx. After I read this novel, I wanted to pack up and move to Newfoundland.

51. Mama Makes Up Her Mind (Essays) - Bailey White. When Bailey White writes about her mother, her prose sparkles. When Mama isn't present, she's not as effective. Also, she has a tendency to end her essays with a neat little 'click' of a conclusion that grated on my nerves after a while.

52. Platforms (nonfiction) - Pagan Kennedy. Funny and irreverent look at all that was charming and goofy about the 1970s. Great fun to read. Not highly polished -- instead, it reads like a long and friendly fanzine.

53. Charms For The Easy Life (novel) - Kaye Gibbons. I wrote that I liked this novel, but I can't remember why.

54. Confessions of a Crap Artist (novel) - Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick is well-known in the SF world. Before he became famous, he wrote several mainstream novels which he didn't have much luck getting published. This one was written in 1959, but it didn't see print until the mid-1970s. Unfairly overlooked -- It's as good as anything John Updike published around this time.

55. Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years (memoir) - Margaret Mead. I really enjoyed this memoir. I'd read it again in a minute. Show me a copy!

56. How To reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer (nonfiction) - Jon J. Michnovicz. A friend who had an episode with breast cancer insisted I read this book. It was full of good information about diet, which is now common knowledge and written in a reader-friendly style. Some tasty recipes are included as well.

57. The Man In The High Castle (novel) - Philip K. Dick. A "what-if...?" novel in which the Axis wins WWII and they divide up the USA. The main character is in hot water because he wrote a "what if...?" novel that imagines the Allies won the war. I'm not an SF/Fantasy reader, but I really like this novel which won the Hugo Award in the early 1960s.

58. The Finishing School (novel) - Gail Godwin. I don't remember anything about this book.

59. A Southern Family (novel) - Gail Godwin. I don't remember anything about this book.

60. Suicide Blonde (novel) - Darcy Steinke. A prolonged bout of LitAmnesia is a hell of a way to end your reading year. Bah.

Fiction: 42

Nonfiction: 18

Books by male authors: 30

Books by female authors: 30

Thursday, January 7, 2010


1993 was the first year I began to seriously keep track of books I'd read. I kept a list in 1984 and another in 1990, but they were written in the back of books, and now I have no idea what those books were or where they are. Looking at this list, I'm quite shocked at how many books I can't remember anything about. Was I reading a lot of crap? Was I distracted?

1. Not The End Of The World (novel) - Rebecca Stowe
I don't remember anything about this book.

2. At The Sign Of The Naked Waiter (novel) - Amy Herrick
I don't remember anything about this book, either -- you'd think I would, with that title! What a way to start a year!

3. We Have Always Lived In The Castle (novel) - Shirley Jackson
Finally, we have a winner. Not only do I remember this novel, it's my favorite novel by Shirley Jackson as well as one of my favorites overall.

4. The Object Of My Affection (novel) - Stephen McCauley
I have a vague impression of enjoying a comic novel, deftly written with a gay theme.

5. Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot (memoir) - John Callahan
I laughed at cartoonist Callahan's memoir of being a paraplegic, was ashamed of myself for laughing and then laughed some more.

6. The Haunting of Hill House (novel) - Shirley Jackson
Jackson knocks the ball out of the park again.

7. The Risk Pool (novel) - Richard Russo
I really like Richard Russo's work, so it pains me that I can't remember this novel. Time for a reread.

8. The Girl In A Swing (novel) - Richard Adams
Speaking of rereads, this beautifully written, erudite psychological horror gem was one. Every time I read it, I pick up on something new.

9. Forty Whacks: New Evidence In The Life and Legend of Lizzie Borden (nonfiction) - David Kent
What the subtitle says.

10. Come Along With Me (novel fragment) - Shirley Jackson
I wish that Jackson had lived to complete this novel.

11. The Year It Rained - (novel) Crescent Dragonwagon
I don't remember anything about this novel.

12. Cowboys Are My Weakness (short stories) -Pam Houston
I don't remember anything about these short stories. I'm noticing that this 'mindless' reading seems to last for a couple of books, then move on.

13. Possession (novel) - A.S. Byatt
I loved this novel about two academics who are researching the lives of two Victorian poets. I'd read this one again in a heartbeat!

14. In The Garden of the North American Martyrs (short stories) -Tobias Wolff
I really enjoy the title story; just read it again recently.

15. All The Pretty Horses (novel) -Cormac McCarthy
I didn't like this book when I read it, but I feel differently about fiction and McCarthy now. I'll probably do a reread at some point.

16. The Housewife and the Assassin (novel) -Susan Trott
I have no memory of reading this, but in my reading journal, there's a frowny face drawn next to the title.

17. She's Come Undone (novel) Wally Lamb
Entertaining novel and the song played in my head the whole time I was reading.

18. Small Spaces Between Emergencies (short stories) - Alison Moore
I don't remember anything about this book.

19. Where The Red Fern Grows (novel) - Wilson Rawls
YA crowd-pleasing weepie about a boy and his two hunting dogs. My son and I read this one aloud together.

20. July 7th (novel) - Jill McCorkle
I have no memory of reading this book.

21. Disguises of Love (novel) - Robbie McCauley
I have no memory of reading this book, but I do remember that it was on an upstairs bookshelf at my in-laws' house in Tulsa.

22. The Bridges of Madison County (novel) - Robert James Waller
I thought the characters were uninteresting, the setting snoozeworthy and Waller completely lost me when the male character started comparing himself to a peregrine. The movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep was an improvement, but that's not saying much.

23. The Firm (novel) - John Grisham
My mother-in-law was going through a Grisham phase. I borrowed this and read it to please her, but other than a vague memory of the protagonist realizing that he's joined a really crooked law firm, it didn't make much of an impression on me. I didn't read another Grisham book until 2008.

24. The Easy Way Out (novel) - Stephen McCauley
I don't remember anything about this book.

25. Hairdo (novel) - Sarah Gilbert
I don't remember anything about this book.

26. Ramona Forever (novel) - Beverly Cleary
Another mother-son read. I love Cleary's depiction of the relationships in the Quimby family. There's a slightly gritty feel to this one as well -- Mr. Quimby is out of work, Ramona's mother is working and money is tight.

27. The Duke of Deception (memoir) - Geoffrey Wolff
I know this is about Geoffrey and Tobias' Wolff's father, but I don't remember anything else. Luckily, I have another copy on the shelves!

28. The Evening Star (novel) - Larry McMurtry
The continuing adventures of Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment.

29. Rambling Rose (novel) - Calder Willingham
I don't remember anything about this book.

30. Like Water For Chocolate (novel) - Laura Esquivel
I loved the magic realism, Esquivel's storytelling, the great translation and all those recipes! Gorgeous book!!!

31. The Mountain Lion (novel) - Jean Stafford
A few years before this book, Stafford wrote a bestselling novel called Boston Adventure that is really reader-unfriendly, as if she'd been channeling Henry James, but this short novel is its polar opposite, quite folksy and friendly as if she'd been channeling Mark Twain.

32. Bitter Fame: A Biography of Sylvia Plath (nonfiction) - Anne Stevenson
Stevenson was approximately Plath's age and also went to an Ivy League women's' college, so presumably, she can shed a lot of light on Sylvia's life and times. She takes up too much time explaining this to the reader. I've read better books about Plath. I recommend the one by Janet Malcolm and also the one by Dianne Middlebrook.

33. The Lost Language of Cranes (novel) - David Leavitt
I don't remember anything about this book.

34. Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life (nonfiction) - Natalie Goldberg
An interesting and entertaining book about applying meditation techniques to writing. Whenever I meet someone who says that they want to 'start writing', I always recommend this book.

35. Katherine Mansfield: A Critical Study (nonfiction) - Sylvia Berkman
Boring. Zzzzzzz.

36. Good Rockin' Tonight (short stories) - William Hauptman
I don't remember anything about this short story collection. Too bad. I like that song.

37. Jack (novel) - A.M. Homes
Jack, who's just come into adolescence, finds out that his father is gay.

38. Pigs in Heaven (novel) - Barbara Kingsolver
I loved The Bean Trees, the prequel to this novel, but didn't like this one because of the shift in viewpoint from first to third person.

39. Vanished (novel) - Mary McGarry Morris
I don't remember anything about this novel.

40. Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (nonfiction) -Claire Tomalin
Very good biography of Mansfield, with a thorough discussion of the story plagiarized from Chekov and an in-depth look at Mansfield's chronic health problems that started well before she contracted TB which led to her death at 34.

41. Needful Things (novel) - Stephen King
The devil went up to Maine, looking for some souls to steal. He opens a shop that strangely enough, always has the object one desires most. The cost? Bwahahahaha!

42. The Life of Katherine Mansfield (nonfiction) - Antony Alpers
Poor Antony Alpers. The "Life" just could not compare with the "Secret Life" of Mansfield. ZZZZZ.

43. Bastard Out of Carolina (novel) - Dorothy Allison
Terrific, gritty writing.

44. Dolores Claiborne (novel) - Stephen King
Dolores tells her story, but other than a shit husband and an estranged daughter, I remember nothing.

45. Hunger (novel) - Knut Hamsun
This book about a literally starving writer in Christiana --now Oslo-- Norway is a brilliant piece of storytelling. The translation I read was excellent as well.

46. Foxfire (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates
This novel is about a girl gang in the 1950s or 60s. Oates does that intensity of teenage life so well.

Male Authors: 22

Female Authors: 24

Fiction: 38

Nonfiction: 8