• Dogwalker

    Arthur Bradford

    the unsettling thing about this book is that the first-person narrators to these twelve stories could all be the same person but aren’t; they all have this innocence and nonchalance at surreal events that is intended to be humorous. it kind of reminds me of...more

  • We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families

    Philip Gourevitch

    the may 2004 issue of harper’s included a letter from Congo titled “In the Valley of the Gun: A massacre unfolds in eastern Congo” by Bryan Mealer — a very intense witness of the violence in the Republic of Congo. in talking to my roommate about it,...more

  • About This Life

    Barry Lopez

    an excellent collection of largely personal essays, the topics run from traveling to memories to animal studies. the introduction alone is worth a read by itself — an explanation of sorts of Lopez’s background, as context for the essays that follow.

    there were a few parts that i wasn’t so into, but “A Short Passage in...more

  • The Poetics of Space

    Gaston Bachelard

    this book wasn’t exactly what i was expecting; it’s not so much “one of the most appealing and lyrical explorations of home,” as the 1994 Beacon Press edition describes it. there is a lot in here about images of home but the focus is more generally on “intimate spaces” analyzed through (mostly French) literature/poetry.


  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

    Alan Sillitoe

    i thought this was a novel until i finished the first (title) story and realized that the next chapter had nothing at all to do with the first one. that first one was by far the best for some reason, the voice of the teenage kid in borstal, chosen to participate in a borstal-wide track and field event as a long-distance runner, is excellent.more

  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

    Haruki Murakami

    i’ve been meaning to read this for a while. it was an entirely gratifying read, all mysterious with a tangle of threads shooting out in every direction. it was sad to finished it, though a lot of that might have been that it’s so long and therefore easy to get invested in the characters.

    it took me a while to get...more

  • Poems of Akhmatova

    Anna Akhmatova

    i lost the comments on this book and a few others around this time. now i can’t remember exactly how i felt about this one.. i do remember liking this edition, which is a good introduction to Akhmatova’s work as it has a good biography as a preface, which puts the poems in context. her subject matter is pretty personal and, while...more

  • Love Poems

    Anne Sexton

    i was inspired to read some Anne Sexton after reading Girl Interrupted and Wintering and some Sylvia Plath. apparently this book is the story of an affair a married woman had, scandalous for its time. but i don’...more

  • The Virgin Suicides

    Jeffrey Eugenides

    i took this out of the library because Middlesex wasn’t in — though i have been curious about this novel since seeing Sophia Coppola’s movie version five years ago...more

  • Girl, Interrupted

    Susanna Kaysen

    while i was reading Wintering, i had a few conversations about books about young women in mental institutions. i think i read The Bell Jar once, but i read this book a few times, drawn to the...more

  • The Book of Tea

    Okakura Kakuzo

    i loved this book when i read it several years ago, using it as a first page for the last issue of my zine pink tea (see below); it was a nice counterweight to Catch-22 to read it again now. it’s a very layered look at the history of tea and tea ceremonies, digging deeper than one may expect in...more

  • Catch-22

    Joseph Heller

    i’ve been meaning to read this book forever; i remember regularly looking for it in the boston public library and never finding it on the shelf. finally i came upon it in a used bookshop a few months ago. i never expected to take almost a month to finish this book, but apparently war stories tire me out (while reading...more

  • Poems, first series

    Emily Dickinson

    There’s a certain slant of light,
    On winter afternoons,
    That oppresses, like the weight
    Of cathedral tunes.

  • Ariel

    Sylvia Plath

    while reading Wintering, i tried to read along with this at the same time, as the chapter titles in Wintering are the titles of these poems, but in the sequence that Sylvia Plath had decided upon. she killed herself before the book was published and Ted Hughes reordered the poems into chronological order...more

  • Wintering

    Kate Moses

    i’ve never been a huge Sylvia Plath fan, but i heard a few things about this novel and the inspiration behind it sounded interesting. Kate Moses takes the original order of the Ariel poems as her foundation to tell this fictionalized tale of Plath’s move back to London after her marriage with Ted Hughes fell apart....more

  • Optic Nerve 9

    Adrian Tomine

    it’s been two years since the last Optic Nerve; it’s crazy to have just breezed through a new issue. there are some notable shifts with this one, most immediately gratifying is the promise of more new material much sooner than last time. this story is the first of three parts, and Tomine will also be publishing a...more

  • Sun Under Wood

    Robert Hass

    i like his phrasing and the detail of nature imagery. the book follows a slight narrative, drawing out personal themes alongside folklore. a calming collection of poems, introspective and clearly captured.more

  • The Laying on of Hands

    Alan Bennett

    i picked this up browsing at the library. supposedly Bennett has an “extraordinary ear for dialogue.” the three stories in this small book are all very funny, in a british comedy sort of way. in fact, the “Father! Father! Burning Bright” was originally a TV movie starring the author in 1982. i liked how the title story...more

  • Everything is Illuminated

    Jonathan Safran Foer

    i was a little dubious about this book after a co-worker was reading it and complained that it seemed the only reason this book was getting attention was because the author was born in 1977. it’s the first fact noted in his bio, and perhaps that isn’t the best selling point for a novel. though it is, admittedly, a pretty...more

  • The Low East

    David Henderson

    riding the train today, exiting to snow falling and slush sidewalks. appropriate to read this slim book of largely new york inspired verse.

    new year rain and snow whirling down
    something to watch outside the window

    pleasing combinations of syllables, the city imagery, and references to...more