Category Archives: reading

June + July Reading List

I'd rather be here than in Maryland.

I’d rather be here than in Maryland.

June and July’s books-read list is short, comparatively. I’m not enjoying summer in Maryland. Actually, I kind of hate it. I thought it might be better than last summer seeing as how we had time to line up a few activities and we know our way around better. It’s not. It’s disgustingly hot, so awful that for a stretch there my always-outside younger two kids couldn’t handle it. There is no beach. Nature is far away. I’m sick of suburbia, I miss the ocean and my yard in Rhode Island so much it hurts. Who knew you could miss land that much? I used to love summer. We had our favorite places–not just the beach, but other spots near the water, rocky shore with tide pools, aquarium and seaport, picnics and parks. You could do things outside, most of the summer, except for a couple really sultry weeks in August, but even then, you could gather up the kids after dinner for a sunset walk along the shore, where the air was cooler and the breeze tasted of salt. I didn’t take it for granted when I had it, but that didn’t stop me from losing it anyway. I knew I was really lucky to live in a place I loved so much–and it was the nature, absolutely, that rooted me in Rhode Island, not family (which has scattered) or friends (ditto). It was the way I could always find happiness in my natural surroundings. Summer filled me up.

Here, summer is wearying. It’s hot. We don’t get out enough. We’re fractious. I’m tired. We all sneeze and are congested a lot. My attention span is pitiful. All this is to say, this is all I read in June and July. I abandoned many, many books partway through because they couldn’t keep my interest (they’re not listed). I flip through magazines. I lay on my bed a lot, under the ceiling fan, kind of worn out and sad and homesick.

Anyway, here’s the list. Ones I especially liked are starred.

June

Don’t Be A Jerk & Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master, by Brad Warner * (mostly read in May)
We’re All Damaged, by Matthew Norman*
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman*
Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson

July

The Trials of Apollo, by Rick Riordan
I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson*
Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God, by Alom Shaha*

May Reading List

How to Treat Your Mom at amyhoodarts.com

Part of my daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me.

May has been long. And tiring. And full of Mondays. But here we are on the very last day, school is almost over, my middle child has turned twelve, and here are the books I finished in May.

As Close to Us as Breathing, Elizabeth Poliner
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Leonard Koren
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, James McBride
Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World, Susan Silverman
The Mistress’s Daughter, A. M. Homes
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

April Reading List

coasters at amyhoodarts.com

Some coasters I whipped up this weekend.

Happy May, I guess. It’s supposed to rain for a week. I know we need it, but…blech. I would have guessed I didn’t read all that much in April, since I sewed so much, but I ended the month with nine books read. As always, asterisks indicate a book I really really liked.

The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russel
The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr *
The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O’Brien*
The Hours Count, by Jillian Cantor*
The Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll
The From-Aways, by CJ Hauser*
The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld
Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and others) in          the Name of Literature, ed by Meredith Maran
Nine Inches: Stories, by Tom Perrotta

Back to the sewing for me! And reading. Under a blanket. Sigh.

March Reading List

red panda visits DC at amyhoodarts.com

Red panda in the cherry blossoms.

March just flew by over here. We’ve got next year’s schooling sorted–my oldest moved up the waiting list to get a seat in his first-choice STEM magnet high school program. High school! He was just a toddler. My youngest will be switching to the local Montessori school, where she’ll get an age-appropriate amount of both recess and independence. (The local public school doesn’t provide enough of either, in my opinion.) I read more books this month than I did in either January or February, which I’ll chalk up to ending the month with flu-like symptoms and being unable to focus on sewing much, and also I didn’t need to abandon any books I began this month. As always, books I really liked have an asterisk, but if it’s on the list, I liked it enough to finish it, and I don’t finish books I don’t like because why. Reading isn’t an endurance test, it’s something I do for fun.

You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz *
Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout*
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker*
Husband and Wife, by Leah Stewart*
All the Houses, by Karen Olsson
The Opposite of Everyone, by Joshilyn Jackson*
The Beast Side: Living (& Dying) While Black in America, by D. Watkins
The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie
George, by Alex Gino*
The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr*

February Reading List

liquid watercolors at amyhoodarts.com

Liquid watercolors, ready to go to class Thursday afternoon.

So far the first week of March feels an awful lot like February, but at least there’s sunlight shining through those jars of liquid watercolors, right? It’s taking more effort than usual this year to combat the seasonal blues. February contained lots of sewing, which is not a bad way to cope. There was also reading. As always, books marked with an asterisk were especially enjoyed, but if a book’s on the list, I liked it well enough to finish it, which isn’t always the case.

My Year of Running Dangerously, Tom Foreman
The Watsons Go To Birmingham–1963, Christopher Paul Curtis *
The Girl From the Garden, Parnaz Foroutan *
Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg*
Happily Ever After, Jen Meyers
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer *
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout *
Seventh Heaven, Alice Hoffman *

January Reading List

snowman at amyhoodarts.com

My daughter’s snowman.

My number of books read this month went down, by design. I wanted to be more balanced between consuming and producing; less reading, more making. My making list for January is pretty good, and I still read, so it’s working out so far. Asterisks denote books I particularly enjoyed, although if I finished a book, I enjoy it enough. (I gave up on one 100 pages in recently–it’s almost 400 pages long–because I just couldn’t take it anymore. It needed a better edit. It felt so self-indulgent on the author’s part, like he killed no darlings.)

This Must Be the Place, Kate Raccula (an accidental re-read)
The Sandcastle Girls, Chris Bohjalian *
Summerlong, Dean Bakopoulos
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall, and the Outsiders of Montparnasse, Stanley Meisler *
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume *
The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro (for February book club)

November + December Reading Lists

December sunset at amyhoodarts.com

December sunset seen through my kitchen window. End of year. Et cetera.

I never posted November’s list, so here they are together. I’ve made it through an entire year of keeping track of what I read (!!). The grand total is 111 books, so you know where all my spare time has gone this year, and then some. Hmm. I might be more productive if I didn’t read so much. Something to think about. You can see every month’s list by clicking on the reading category tag.

November:

Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin
The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska, Eileen Curtwright
How to Start a Fire, Lisa Lutz *
The Children’s Crusade, Ann Packer *
A Better Man, Leah McLaren
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand *
The Daylight Marriage, Heidi Pitlor
The Bishop’s Wife, Mette Ivie Harrison
Still Life With Breadcrumbs, Anna Quindlen *

December:

Oranges Are the Only Fruit, Jeannette Winterson
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer, Rick Riordan
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell *
The Obituary Writer, Ann Hood
The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant
Days of Awe, Lauren Fox *
Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave
The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman *
Bastards, Mary Anna King
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick

October Reading List

halloween still life at amyhoodarts.com

We finally live in a trick-or-treating neighborhood after more than a decade, so we had some fun decorating for Halloween.

Fewer books than normal this month, I think. I abandoned more than one, for various reasons, and A Little Life is more than 700 pages. I didn’t even realize that when I requested it via Overdrive, and it’s a perfect use of a Kindle, in my opinion. I fell asleep reading it one night when my husband was traveling, and if I’d done that with the hard copy, I probably would have injured myself. Anyway, here’s October’s list–and honestly I’m amazed I’ve continued to keep track through ten whole months–with, as always, books I particularly liked marked with an asterisk.

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Life and Other Near Death Experiences, Camille Pagan *
The Wave, Todd Shasser (handed to me by my eldest, so of course I read it)
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Jeanette Winterson *
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara *
Who Do You Love, Jennifer Weiner
Two Sisters, Mary Hogan
The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy

Have you read anything good lately?

September Reading List

thistle

I thought this month would end up a little lighter on books, but I see I read ten. This surprises me only because I learned, this past month, that our library system has loads of digital magazines available to borrow. Using the Zinio for libraries app, I always have a magazine or two loaded into my phone. It’s been fantastic–and free. I love libraries.

So, books read in September, with, as always, an asterisk next to ones I really liked. (Although if I can’t stand a book I don’t finish it, so if it’s on the list, I liked it enough to read it.)

Bookends, by Jane Green
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kennedy
How to Write a Novel (A Novel), by Melanie Sumner *
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson *
The Yokota Officers Club, by Sarah Bird *
In the Language of Miracles, by Rajia Hassib
David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell *
What a Mother Knows, by Leslie Lehr
The Writing on My Forehead, by Nafisa Haji *
The Rumor, by Elin Hilderbrand

Speak was given to my 13yo by the middle school librarian, and when he was done, he handed it to me. Another mom in the neighborhood saw me reading it and felt it was highly inappropriate for the librarian to give it to my son without asking me, because it deals with rape. It’s a YA novel and these situations happen to kids whether we want to think they do or not. I had no problem with my son reading it, and I like that he handed it to me to read, knowing I would and we could talk about it.

August Reading List

August book list at amyhoodarts.com

A sweet book playhouse/reading nook behind the Annapolis Bookstore.

I’m a little late with this, but here’s what I read in August. Again, books I particularly liked are marked with an asterisk. I didn’t include the books I abandoned for one reason or another. (Life is too short to read badly written and/or dull books.)

Housebreaking, by Dan Pope
Very Good Lives, by JK Rowling
The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter, PhD
The Beautiful Struggle, by Ta-Nehisi Coates *
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
Reunion, by Hannah Pittard *
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion *
Fly Away, by Kristin Hannah
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates*
Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline *
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison (re-read) *
Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna
The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd

(Sometimes I feel like I should annotate these lists a little beyond starring the ones I really liked, but it’s always thoughts on ones I wasn’t that impressed with, so I end up going with the adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I don’t.)