• Hotel of the Saints

    Ursula Hegi

    It’s been a long while since I even tried to read a short story collection—I read a lot of short stories in 2003 and I daresay it burnt me out. So I was glad that Melanie sent me this Ursula Hegi collection for my birthday. A nice reminder of my appreciation of...more

  • Kafka on the Shore

    Haruki Murakami

    Having now read all of Murakami’s books thus far, I wanted to like this more than I did. Something about the structure of the story seems rickety and unbalanced—the various layers of narrative a little misaligned. It could be that the main protagonist is a bit of an unbelievable 15-year-old...more

  • The Mother Tongue

    Bill Bryson

    Just after I finished Eats, Shoots & Leaves a friend recommended this book, as another take on the funny grammar book. It’s more about linguistics than grammar and namely how English came to be such a world dominant language. The history of how English...more

  • The Botany of Desire

    Michael Pollan

    Starting off with the question of whether gardeners could be “human bumblebees,” essentially goaded into spreading plants around much like bees assist in pollination, Pollan continues on to examine the histories of four key cultivated plants under the shadow of this question. He organizes them into categories of desire: sweetness (the...more

  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

    Carson McCullers

    Somehow I have spent all of July trying to read this book. Over the past few days I’ve started to feel a bit of pull into it, but it’s reached an unrenewably due status with the library, so I am giving up for now. Some summers I seem to lose the reading bug, contrary to all those summer reading lists out there....more

  • Pinball, 1973

    Haruki Murakami

    Murakami’s second novel was a direct sequel to Hear the Wind Sing and was only published in English as a Japanese language guide. I had to interlibrary loan this one from Missoula, Montana. Montana! I got a kick out of that.

    Having read about this book in...more

  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    Lynne Truss

    manda just reminded me that I never read this book, having been much intrigued when it was published in the US last year with some mixed press. Readers who don’t have a nerdy interest in the finer points of grammar, as well as a working knowledge of British humour,...more

  • Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words

    Jay Rubin

    While vaguely biographical, this book is mostly a critical look at Murakami’s work (up until its publication). Jay Rubin is one of the handful of the translators who have brought Murakami’s work into English; as such this book looks at more than just the works available in English, since Rubin obviously has the means to read the...more

  • You Grow Girl

    Gayla Trail

    I’m sad I have to return this to the library today as I didn’t really get through it all, though I had felt that it will probably end up on my wishlist when I first took it out anyhow. Written by the woman who started the gardening website You Grow Girl, it’s the guide to gardening...more

  • South of the Border, West of the Sun

    Haruki Murakami

    This reminded me a lot of Norwegian Wood, a less fantastic and off-the-wall, seemingly more personal story.

    Everyone just keeps on disappearing. Some things just vanish, like they were cut away. Others fade slowly into the mist. And all that remains is a desert.


  • Dance Dance Dance

    Haruki Murakami

    I kept feeling like all of Murakami’s characters are so much the same while reading this, but also kept forgetting that this is the continuation of A Wild Sheep Chase and Hear the Wind Sing before that, so in this case the main character...more

  • The Art Lover

    Carole Maso

    After reading both this book and Ghost Dance, I wonder what has brought Carole Maso to write so eloquently about loss aside from the obvious fact that she has experienced it significantly. In this book she tackles loss through sudden death, slow death, and divorce all at once by maintaining...more

  • Beloved

    Toni Morrison

    This story is based off the true account of Margaret Garner, a fugitive slave who attempted to kill all of her children when faced with recapture. In this book the baby who is killed returns as a spirit to haunt her family, who manage to stay free.

    Morrison has just adapted the story again in to a libretto for...more

  • Ghost Dance

    Carole Maso

    Most of the time while reading this book, I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. The narrative is purposefully fragmented in a curious way. Our narrator is the daughter of a renowned poet, a woman who is talented to the degree that she can’t always function in the world outside of her writing. At the beginning, we are told that the...more

  • Sula

    Toni Morrison

    Morrison’s stories unfold like legends and somehow her simple, unadorned, language becomes richly poetic.

    … she saw through the open door a slim figure in blue, gliding, with just a hint of a strut, down the path toward the road. One hand was pressed to the head to hold down the large hat against the

  • Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities

    Olena Kalytiak Davis

    More challenging than And Her Soul Out of Nothing but very alive.

    small quilled poem with no taste for spring
    In spring all the poems that need
    to be written

    Have. You are neither dejected
    nor relieved.

  • Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World

    Haruki Murakami

    I love novels with multilinear narratives that reinforce each other as they develop. As well as novels that include maps in the beginning (and it’s a very attractive map). The melancholy moments of being outside of the regular world seemed especially insightful. This might be my favorite Murakami book, it’s possible.


  • The Bluest Eye

    Toni Morrison

    After struggling through the last book I read, it was lucky for me that I had been looking at a list of “top 100 American novels of the 20th century” recently. Cranky at the old literature canon and noticing what important American writers were so obviously absent, I decided to...more

  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities

    Jane Jacobs

    It’s been a year and a half since I read the first two parts of this book — when I unpacked my books, I put the ones I hadn’t read on the top shelf so I would remember to read or finish them.

    While some chapters are a bit dry for casual...more

  • The Dove’s Nest and other stories

    Katherine Mansfield

    This probably wasn’t the best book of Mansfield’s to get, as only the first group of stories are “finished” and the rest of the book is just fragments put together after she died suddenly. The stories are very short and concise, which was an interesting contrast to the Munro stories. But I’m not really into...more