Tag Archives: Books

Stop and Frisk, A Hopeful Vision of Egypt, An Inside Look at School Reform, OCD Slam Poetry, Apophenia, and Inspiring People

It’s one of those days/weeks/months where there is just too much going for a single cohesive thought/post. So instead here is a collection of things on my mind/from around the internet tonight:

Those of us in NYC (and other big cities in the U.S.) are likely familiar with Stop and Frisk — the practice of  stopping (almost exclusively minorities) who are deemed “suspicious” and frisking and questioning them in case they might commit a crime. Well this week a judge deemed it a violation of civil rights because this practice is essentially racial profiling. According to MSNBC, “While black and Latino men between the age of 14 and 24 only make up 4.7% of the city’s population, in 2012 they made up about 41% of the stops.”

And despite the assertions of NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg,  it’s pretty widely known that it’s not an effective program: “Of the 4.4 million people stopped, and the 2.3 million people frisked between 2004 and 2012, a weapon was found in less than 1% of the cases.”

This segment from the Daily Show puts it into perspective perfectly (btw, John Oliver has been killing it this summer–he needs his own show):

Also in the news is all of the horrible death and violence in Egypt. A wonderful photojournalist I know (in fact I once hired him as an intern at Popular Photography) posted a series of portraits that he took in Egypt in 2012  on his website today  along with this note:

“Over the course of the past 36 hours I’ve watched a nation, who’s struggle for freedom and democracy is very near to my heart, fall into all-out chaos and disaster. Keeping an eye on the steady flow of images coming out of Egypt, many of which depict horrific death and destruction, is no easy task, and one that breaks my heart. 

What follows is a series of portraits taken during a much brighter, more hopeful time in Egypt’s history, perhaps one of the most hopeful periods this North African nation has ever seen.”

Check out his photos here.

And speaking of talented photographers that I know: I am soooooo lucky to know the amazing  Yosra El-Essawy, who aside from taking beautiful photos of lucky couples like Mark and I, recently completed the amazing gig of being Beyonce’s official world tour photographer (yeah that’s right, she’s THAT good). She is battling cancer right now and she is doing it with so much strength, positivity, and gratitude…to say that she is inspiring would be a huge understatement. I can’t imagine I would be anywhere near as graceful in her place. I feel so lucky to know her, and so happy that she is surrounded by so much love.
A real-life superhero

And in keeping on the theme of inspiring people I know, my former boss (former Editor-in-Chief of Popular Photography), John Owens, has written a book about the state of the Education system in the U.S., prompted by his recent experience as an English teacher in the Bronx. It came out earlier this month and my copy just arrived today.

I’m very excited to read a book written by one of the best mentors I’ve had in my career. I have a feeling all of my teacher friends will want to pick up a copy as well. Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens:

And now after all that heaviness… a little levity:

Today I learned (on Facebook of course) about a psychological phenomenon known as  apophenia  which is seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data, which sounds pretty cool if not abstract and nerdy. Until you find out that it translates into finding faces in inanimate objects. (I sense my next version of a pun safari coming on!) Here are a couple of amazing examples:



And here is a full list of 50.

And finally, I also saw this posted on Facebook today, and it makes me miss my slam poetry days in college. As my friend Joan said, is is “sweet and sad at the same time (with a dash of crazy).” Enjoy.

My Love Letter to Book Club

On my 29th birthday, in between belting out songs at karaoke at our local dive bar, my friend Diem and I decided that we should start a book club. The next month three of us talked about the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a classic I had never read, over brunch.

Now, three years later, I will go to the same bar for karaoke with the four other core members of book club, and the next day we will enjoy brunch and talk about our latest book.

Of course there is nothing remarkable about five (and sometimes six) 30-something women having brunch and talking about books. But I feel lucky to have found them and want to take this opportunity to celebrate the simple joys of Book Club.

Talking about books with good friends is truly one of the great joys in life and once you are several years removed from school, it can be one of the rare opportunities to have a conversation about books. Book club has also given me a set date to meet and catch up with some of my closest friends (we are happy that we decided early on to make it “women only” as it’s also a perfect excuse for much needed monthly female bonding).

(most recent photo of book club ladies on a night out for Jen’s birthday)

As you’ll see from the list below, the books we’ve read over the past three years have varied from missed classics, to new best sellers, to re-read classics to semi-random selections. Some books have become my new favorites (Blind Assassin, Grapes of Wrath), and some have been divisive (How to be a Woman, Franny and Zooey) and a few flat out hated (The Last Child), or unfinished (Travels with Charlie).

But another joy of book club is that I’ve ended up reading many books that I would never otherwise read, for as much as we all have in common, our tastes and opinions vary and even if I have different opinions, I’ve enjoyed the chance to read and discuss and even disagree on books with such smart women.  And yes, as the benevolent dictator of book club (i.e. the one who sends out the invites and prints out questions), I’ve also enjoyed the bulit-in deadline that book club gives me to finish a book.

So without further preamble, here is the list of all of the books my book club has read in the last three years  (my favorites in bold).*

  1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain May 2010
  2. The Last Child by  John Hart   June 2010
  3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers July 2010
  4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett August 2010
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddan September  2010
  6. Cider House Rules October/November 2010
  7. Freedom by Johnathan Franzen January 2011
  8. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen March 2011
  9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith April 2011
  10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston May 2011
  11. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut June 2011
  12. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger  July 2011
  13.  Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner  October 2011
  14. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck December 2011/January 2012
  15. The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides March 2012
  16. Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck April/May 2012
  17. Rebecca by  Daphne Du Maurier June 2012
  18. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates July 2012
  19. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood August 2012
  20. How  to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran September 2012
  21. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote October 2012
  22. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro November/December 2012
  23. The Awakening by Kate Chopin February 2013
  24. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy  March 2013
  25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck April 2013

*This list is likely missing a few books and might be slightly out of order, this was the best I could manage from my notes and memory.

Must Read Books for Every Stage of Life (an incomplete list) Part Two

In case you missed the first installment, you can find it here.

Middle School

There are no two ways about it–these years pretty much suck. It’s such an awkward couple of years transitioning from being a child to an adolescent. And for me at least, it was when I started to become “weird” and “different,” which you may see reflected in my book choices.

I’ve already mentioned Forever by Judy Blume–a real coming of age classic for an 8th grade girl.

There were two other books that I read at 14, that kind of changed my life:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I read this in the spring of my 8th grade year, sitting on the porch every evening (you’ll notice perhaps that I remember where I was when I read a lot of these books–that’s what kind of impression they left on me and the kind of importance/ritual I built around reading books that I connected with). I’ve thought about re-visiting this book as an adult, but a big part of me wants to keep it as a memory.I identified with her so much, it was the first time I felt a kinship with  someone from a book. She was at that moment exactly the kind of writer I wanted to be when I crafted endless bad poetry. It was all just SO DEEP.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Right after reading The Bell Jar, I read the Catcher in the Rye (on the same spot on the porch) and fell in love all over again. Another book so wonderfully written, and it just “got” me, and all my “unique” feelings. I immediately read all of Salinger’s books and loved them all.  However, this is one that I know I do not want to return to as an adult. I am sure I would be annoyed by Holden Caulfield at this stage in my life. Yes this is a classic–but the reason why is that it captures adolescence so perfectly–it’s a stage that most don’t want to return to later in life.

High School

The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Both beautiful and epic books. They get the complexities of “coming of age” (which is kind of an obnoxious term, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment).

Caucasia by Danzy Senna
I read this one as an adult, but I wish I would have read it in high school–a wonderfully written book about race and identity and family. I gave this to my Little Sister when she was in 9th grade.


1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell
1984 is my favorite book of all time, and George Orwell is the author I admire most. I read 1984 when I was 24, and part of me disappointed that I had lived that long without having reading any Orwell, but in another way I was glad that I had some maturity, world experience, and knowledge to really “get” it and how amazing it is. So while I put this under High School, I think it’s probably best for 11th or 12th grade, and then every few years after that.

After I read 1984, I read all of Orwell’s writing (all of his novels, and a lot of his short stories and essays, and even biographies) and it was like I had found something I had been looking for– I wish I could be half the author and journalist that George Orwell was.  In addition to 1984, Down and Out in London and Paris, and Animal Farm are other favorites. But really, read everything by the man–he’s amazing.


College and Beyond

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
This is another classic that I somehow missed until adulthood. I think I’m glad that I didn’t read books like these for a class, sadly that can take a lot of the joy out of a book. This is an amazing book and college is probably a great time to read it–it will depress you and make you angry and make you want to change the world–perfect for college.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
OK, so I might be a little bias on this one because I just finished reading it last month., but this is an amazing multi-layer novel within a novel that has made me want to jump on my next author bandwagon and start reading more Margaret Atwood (next up: The Handmaid’s Tale…another one I somehow missed)

OK, so that’s my very very very incomplete list. There are many great books that I left off that I’ll add to the (someday) ultimate list. In the meantime I’d love to hear your recommendations for the best books for every stage of life…

Must Read Books for Every Stage of Life (an incomplete list) Part One

Of the many gifts I’d like to give my non-existent possible future child, and a definitive list of the best books to read at every stage in life (along with copies–real actual printed copies of each book), is chief among them. This is not that list–that list will likely take me months of laboring over and adding to. But this is a start. Inspired by this this lovely blog post. Please, feel free to share your must reads for every stage of life. Here’s my start:

Birth to Age 5:

Monster at the End of This Book
I grew up LOVING Sesame Street and all things Muppet (and watching it until I was much older than I would admit to my friends). This book, starting loveable furry old Grover was one of my favorites as a child. I’ve given this book as a gift to many children and babies in my life and my child will be no exception. Plus, I’m married to a man who does a great Grover voice when he reads this aloud.

Where the Wild Things Are
Hear this writers everywhere: this book is a masterpiece and it’s under 400-words. So keep it short!  It’s been said that the last line in this book is a poem in and of itself: “and the food was still hot.” It’s a beautiful work of the imagination and feelings of childhood.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Like Where the Wild Things Are, this book has great illustrations, but in a much simpler baby/toddler-friendly way. I remember loving flipping through this book when I was learning to count and after. Plus it makes a great kids birthday party theme.

Everything Dr. Seuss
The man is a genius. Enough said.

Elementary School Years

Everything Roald Dahl
I’ve read some of his adult stuff and it’s decent, but he was great at kind of dark, but imaginative kids books for those years when you just start getting into reading on your own and you realize how fun it can be. The BFG, The Witches (which I actually didn’t read until I was an adult), James and  the Giant Peach (I played a the grasshopper in a production of this when I was in the 3rd grade), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the list goes on — they are all must reads.

Charlotte’s Web
Get ready to cry your eyes out. My life would be complete if I could ever write something as moving as this book. I know I’ve already said masterpiece, but seriously: Masterpiece.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
OK, this one is probably only a girl thing. But I remember when I was in forth grade and learning for the first time was a period was, I checked this book out of the library and rode my bike to the park to read it in secret after school. Several years later in 8th grade I secretly read another Judy Blume book, Forever, (women will know what I’m talking about…men…I don’t know, maybe Blubber? I guess some Judy Blume might be gender neutral, but the two books that left the strongest impression were definitely for girls only.

(side rant: I am, of course, partial to the  70s/80s covers of these books)

Next installment: Middle School, High School, and College.


“There’s a future in books…and a book in your future!”

There are a few librarians in my extended family, and a lot of book lovers in all parts of my life. So for all you literary types, please enjoy these Library ads from the 1950s and 60s. Find more here. 


(if you know my love of puns, you know why I like this one)

(Is this suggesting reading a book together on the phone? Why didn’t I think of that as a teenager? Sounds like something I would do)

Why Didn’t I Think of This: The Rory Gilmore Reading List

I am really kicking myself for not thinking of this first, but hot damn is this a brilliant idea that’s right up my alley. The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge: reading every book the Rory read (or talked about reading) on The Gilmore Girls.

I love reading, I love The Gilmore Girls (on a related note Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new show “Bunheads” is pretty good so far), so this is kind of tailor-made for me. Here’s the list with which books I’ve already read noted (red is read, blue is read part of), I may just add completing this to my life long goal list.

1984 by George Orwell–read (It’s my favorite book of all time!!) 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain–read
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank–read
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan–read
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin–read
Babe by Dick King-Smith–read
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – read–loved this book as a 14 year old
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita–read for my yoga teacher training
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley–read
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White–read and LOVED IT
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – read
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown – read
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – read – 2009
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves– I’m not reading an outdated travel guide.
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – read
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore–I think this is just a movie not a book…
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger–read
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen–read
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck–read (one of my favorite books!)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – read
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – reading now
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers–read
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby–read (I think..)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris–read
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss–read
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg–read
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis–read
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding–read
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson–read
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – read
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris–read
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka–read
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides–read
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich–read
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – read
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck–read
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac–started and couldn’t finish
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey–read
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez–started and couldn’t finish
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton–read (isn’t it required reading for Middle School students?)
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky–read
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe–read
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – currently reading for Book Club!!
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR)
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare–read
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf–started and didn’t finish
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition–OK this one is kind of silly–I’ve read plenty of travel guides, I’m not going to read an outdated one…
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir–read (isn’t it required reading for liberal college women?)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – read
A Separate Peace by John Knowles–read twice
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut–have read most of, or I have read it all and can’t remember it
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron–saw the movie
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White–read (very strange and not as good as Charlotte’s Web At All)
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger–saw the movie
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway–read
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – read
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith–read twice and LOVED
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – read
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann–read
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides–read 
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau–read most of but haven’t finished
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson–someone bought this for me years ago and I found the gesture annoying so I never read it–might give it a second look..
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Raps for Nerds/Raps about Words.

Today I offer, with little commentary, three awesome rap videos about writing, grammar, and reading. Being smart is cool, and if this is what it takes to get people to use your and you’re properly, I’m totally on board.

First: Your vs. You’re by “The fastest white rapper”

“See this one belongs to you and this one is something you are it’s true”

Next: A rap for my fellow journalists, The Elements of Style Rap by Columbia grad students Jake Heller and Ben Teitelbaum.

“Split infinitive, never definitive, sounds unintelligent, dumb and ineloquent. Just say it like you meant, always write with intent.”

And finally, one that was posted a few months ago on my Book Club’s page. La Shea Delaney  & Annabelle Quezada’s “Bitches in Bookshops”

“You use a Kindle? I carry spines, supporting bookshelves like a bra–Calvin Klein.”



The Pun Also Rises: Going on a Pun Safari

I used to cringe when I heard a pun, like many people I thought they were one of the cheesiest forms of humor and I fancied myself dry and witty. Then I got my first magazine job and my boss would routinely call me into his office to help him come up with punny headlines for articles.

Over time I learned to enjoy this as a kind of a fun mental exercise for word geeks. Are puns the highest (or even most hilarious) form of humor? Most certainly not, but they take a certain amount of knowledge of the world we live in both past and present and a love of words and the idiosyncrasies  of the English language along with the desire to poke fun at things—in other words I was made to love puns I just didn’t know it.

So I was excited to see this video by John Pollack, the author of a book about puns called The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics, as he goes on a pun safari in New York City.

Sadly his safari, in my opinion, missed tons of great pun gems. Two instantly spring to mind: Has Beans, the South Park Slope coffee shop I pass every day, and Doggy Style the pet grooming salon in Soho near my old office. So in my mind the gauntlet has been thrown. I will document a better punnier New York! Feel free to share your favorite puns that you’ve seen out in the world (in or outside of NYC)

UPDATED: Wonderful Curmudgeon Maurice Sendak Probably Thought you had a “Terrible Quality of Ordinariness”

The rule of threes says that Maurice Sendak is number two after MCA’s passing on Friday (could famed 39-pound “Meow the Cat” count as #3?). But regardless of if his death comes as part of a celebrity trifecta, now seems like an appropriate time to reflect on not only his genius, but the misanthropic sharp-witted nature of a man who had little use for pandering and believed radically that childeren are people that you don’t have to talk down to.

Check out his awesome interview with Stephen Colbert from earlier this year:

Although I (hopefully) have many years ahead of me, I do kind of share his views on e-books:  “Fuck those e-books! They can not be the future– they may well be– but I’ll be dead and I won’t give a shit!” There is something about a printed book–especially a picture book, but always a real tangible book that you can dog ear and love that your stupid phone can never match. NEVER. My mom’s taped copy of Grapes of Wrath with her maiden name and notes written in the margins beats your iphone, ipad and kindle every single time.  I feel you Sendak, you big grump.

UPDATE 5/9/12:

This is a wonderful touching video of Maurice Sendak on his life, what he loved, and death.