what I’ve been reading lately:

  • Two Cities by Cynthia Zarin

    This book is part of the ekphrasis series put out by David Zwirner Books, and that word always makes me think of my freshman year of college, about a classroom with an instructor talking about Homer. I remember the instructor asking, rhetorically, what ekphrasis does and then I remember him answering: “it fucking interrupts the…

    (Read more)

  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin

    I vividly remember the cover of the 1989 Puffin paperback edition of this book, which I suspect I checked out of the library multiple times. I’m not sure what made me think of it recently, but I decided it might be fun to re-read, and it was: I remembered parts of the story but had…

    (Read more)

  • The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

    I’d been meaning to read this book since it came out in 2015, so when I found out that someone I know from work had chosen this for the first read of the new nonfiction book club he’s starting, I immediately put a hold on it at the library. (I love book clubs for either…

    (Read more)

  • Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis

    I found Dykette an extremely cringe-inducing read, which I think is intentional. So do I think the book is successful as a novel? Yes. Did I enjoy reading it? Sometimes. Would I recommend it? I guess it depends on your feelings about gross-out performance art and “High-Femme Camp Antics.” (Personally, I think my tolerance for…

    (Read more)

  • Pitch Dark by Renata Adler

    The last two books I read before Pitch Dark were both narratively-straightforward romances—very different in style and from very different times, but they were both the kind of book where the central couple gets a happily-ever-after ending and the reader gets warm and fuzzy feelings. Pitch Dark is not that kind of book at all.…

    (Read more)

  • The Nanny by Lana Ferguson

    This was a book club read for me, and I wasn’t necessarily expecting to like it as much as I did. I mean – bonking the nanny is such a stereotypical trope, and even with the twist (this nanny used to perform on OnlyFans, and her new employer turns out to have been someone she…

    (Read more)

  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

    At the start of The Blue Castle we meet Valancy Stirling, who’s 29 and single, in a time and place “where the unmarried are simply those who have failed to get a man.” Her family looks down on her because of her timid nature and her “hopeless old maidenhood” and her lack of conventional good…

    (Read more)

  • The Red and the Black by StendhalTranslated by Roger Gard

    Roger Gard’s introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Red and the Black describes the book as “a thrilling double love story” and also as “satirical and sharp,” a “picture of corruption, grossness, illiberality and deceit in municipality, Church and state” and of “a tottering reactionary monarchy.” All of which I maybe would have…

    (Read more)

  • Heir of Uncertain Magic by Charlie N. Holmberg

    This book, which is the sequel to Keeper of Enchanted Rooms, was perfect for my current reading mood: I wanted something plot-driven that would keep my attention and distract me from some minor physical annoyances (the end of a case of poison sumac, plus some kind of blepharitis) and it did its job admirably. We…

    (Read more)

  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules VerneTranslated by Robert Baldick

    At the start of Journey to the Centre of the Earth we meet Axel, our narrator, who’s in his late teens at the point when the story opens in Hamburg in May 1863. His parents are dead, and in the “dual capacity of nephew and orphan” he lives with his uncle, one Professor Lidenbrock, and…

    (Read more)