readwell



READING




READ



Waiting for God
Simone Weil
1951
2 Jul - 7 Sep 2020
Simone Weil has an almost inhuman intellectual rigor ... -> a supernatural faith. Weil's uncompromising devotion to spiritual exactitude and virtue reveal new truths about God. I can only read her work with awe. These writings should be as 'required' as C.S. Lewis.

"A sense of our mediocrity...no knowledge is more to be desired."
Malina
Ingeborg Bachmann
1971
23 Aug - 5 Sep 2020
ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ
--
Dark, obsessive, absurd ... this book at every step, at every astonishing achievement of language, eludes understanding--yet is implicitly understood. I am obsessed. My only wish is to have been able to read it in German.
Don't Look Now
Daphne du Maurier
1940
20 Jul - 22 Aug 2020
ooo
In Praise of Shadows
Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
1933
9 Aug 2020
"Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty."
On Photography
Susan Sontag
1973
14 Jun - 25 Jul 2020
This is Sontag's skeptical, precise de-romanticization of photography. The advances of each decade since these essays were compiled would only multiply and serve to prove the truth of her observations and critical conclusions about photography as a practice, a cultural phenomenon, an art, and about the Image and its relationship to society.
For the Time Being
Annie Dillard
1999
1 - 27 Jun 2020
... like a dream about the nature of life ... Annie Dillard is an archaeologist of meaning
Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
2002
20 Oct 2019 - 10 Jun 2020
my man
Walden and Resistance to Civil Government
Henry David Thoreau
1849
Mar - 31 May 2020
A Writer's Diary
Virginia Woolf
1953
20 Feb - 25 May 2020
lots of thoughts, emotions, reactions...will type them up here soon
Ariel
Sylvia Plath
1966
Mar - 23 May 2020
These are not the sorts of poems you copy onto a card and send to your friends; these you read alone, bitterly, in agony: as solace when life becomes sore.
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
David Foster Wallace
2005
20 Apr - 10 May 2020
DFW could write about literally anything and I would read it.
Welcome to the Monkey House
Kurt Vonnegut
1968
15 Mar - 11 Apr 2020
Exploratory, mysterious, always hopeful in the end
Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller
1949
Mar 2020
Why We Sleep
Matthew Walker
2017
23 Jun 2018 - 11 Apr 2020
This book made me become pretty neurotic about getting enough sleep...ultimately a beneficial neurosis, I think. I would recommend everyone to read at least the first section. The studies described are all pretty astounding. Perhaps it’s too good a conclusion to be true, but it seems like sleep is that missing lurking variable behind most, if not all, areas of health science.

When I told my chronically sleep-deprived parents about the contents of this book they reacted as if I’d joined some doomsday cult. I say: if it’s possible for you right now, just try it for yourself: prioritizing 8 hours of good sleep is a small price to pay for well-being, creativity, intelligence, memory, and longevity.
Hedda Gabler
Henrik Ibsen
1890
Mar 2020
Trick Mirror
Jia Tolentino
2019
19 Feb - 9 Mar 2020
Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen
1811
17 Jan - Mar 8 2020
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
David Foster Wallace
1998
14 Jan - 17 Feb 2020
Incredible: stimulating and entertaining; engrossingly but not excruciatingly detailed. DFW is the champion of the Adjective.
Men Explain Things to Me
Rebecca Solnit
2014
19 - 20 Jan 2020
The Clean House and Other Plays
Sarah Ruhl
2006
8 - 16 Jan 2020
Sarah Ruhl rules.
Can't and Won't
Lydia Davis
2014
3 - 16 Jan 2020
I love Lydia Davis!!
Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng
2018
5 - 7 Jan 2020
Sweeping.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
1937
29 Dec 2019 - 3 Jan 2020
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondō
2014
15 Aug 2019 - 1 Jan 2020
Worth a read. Marie Kondo did change my life in several ways.


2019



We Learn Nothing
Tim Kreider
2013
25 - 31 Dec 2019
The Plague
Albert Camus
1947
6 - 24 Dec 2019
100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write
Sarah Ruhl
2012
18 Nov - 23 Dec 2019
Ahhhh very wonderful. I read a few of these every morning for the past few weeks, and it’s been such a pleasure. Each mini-essay is thought-provoking, personal, and features Sarah Ruhl’s amazing sense of humor.
Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë
1847
22 Nov - 1 Dec 2019
When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi
2016
25 - 26 Nov 2019
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the glimmer of this precious soul in this precious book
The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Leo Tolstoy
1886
6 - 18 Nov 2019
Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf
1925
28 Oct - 5 Nov 2019
Virginia Woolf puts me into such a state of overexcitement and frenzy, Mrs. Dalloway is an entire world and all of existence in one bursting day. I read some of the best sentences in the English language here!!

“Only for a moment; but it was enough. It was a sudden revelation, a tinge like a blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer, swollen with some astonishing significance, some pressure of rapture, which split its thin skin and gushed and poured with an extraordinary alleviation over the cracks and sores! Then, for a moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed. But the close withdrew; the hard softened. It was over—the moment.”

Here is a novel to get lost inside of sentences, wandering the streets of London and the minds and pasts of its people. Woolf writes to fully convey a MOMENT—how large that moment can be, how full of meaning and sensation !! I wandered through this book, grasped at the beginnings and ends of thoughts, held on to feelings even as they disappeared, and felt the glowing, sensitive magnificence of the mystery of being.
Howl and Other Poems
Allen Ginsberg
1956
25 - 26 Oct 2019
The Living Mountain
Nan Shepherd
1977
25 Oct 2019
Incredibly Scottish, I had to look up every 7th word, but wonderful. Perfect accompaniment for an intimate excursion up whichever great mountain looms over you.

“So, simply to look on anything, such as a mountain, with the love that penetrates to its essence, is to widen the domain of being in the vastness of non-being. Man has no other reason for his existence.”
On the Road: The Original Scroll
Jack Kerouac
1957
17 - 24 Oct 2019
Yes, yes, yes! I dig it, these magnificent, magnificent visions of the road, this sprawling scroll of ever onwards and the ever illuminating vastness of wide open land.

This urgently told, go go go recounting of endless happenings on the road back and forth, up and down the U.S. has infected me with my own inner go, go, go—a thirst for experiencing life, finding what’s exciting about it, traveling across the country, and writing about it all with the splendid candor of Jack Kerouac’s prose, and talking about it in the decisive, enchanting, and insane manner of Neal Cassady.
The Weight of Glory
C.S. Lewis
1949
18 - 23 Oct 2019
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante
2011
20 Sep - 16 Oct 2019
I was so immediately immersed into this novel; Ferrante puts into words those dazzling emotions of friendship that I've also felt in my life--so mesmerizing, so captivating are those friendships, and here is one of the greatest friendships between women in all of the literature I've read.

Most of all, My Brilliant Friend is about the desperation, complexity, and attachment of intimate friendship. The strings that bind Lila and Lenù together are earth-shattering, bigger than any of the romantic love in the novel, inexplicable. The story of the beginning years of this epic friendship speaks to the power we hold over each other and the endless mysteries of relationships--as if they are a puzzle we long to resolve, to find security in, but that continue to confound, disappoint, and fascinate us.

I read this novel hungrily, all throughout thinking: this is the love of friends--lifelong, strange, full of tension and power dynamics; they're made of a fabric of unconditional protection, long-held hurt, comparison and inadequacy, moments of sheer joy, excitement, ecstasy, painful hyperawareness of the other, the secret pleasures of exclusivity, of going into the world together, alone except for each other. I found solace in Lenu's inner world, in her insecurities, her fragile heart, her confusion, and her submission to the inescapable, unfailing grasp that Lila seemed to have on her life.

I love what John Freeman wrote of the Neapolitan series: "Imagine if Jane Austen got angry and you'll have some idea how explosive these works are."

I so loved this novel and I'll be sure to read the next three!
The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1879
2 Jul - 12 Oct 2019
Oh my, there is so, so much to say, and I can’t say it all now. This was magnificent, brilliant, philosophical, intricate, dense. “Dostoyevsky paints like Rembrandt” (Andre Gide). I’ll miss reading about dear Alyosha, Dmitri, and Ivan every night. Dostoevsky’s fiction is unrivaled...his characters are rendered with unbelievable depth, and the sheer breadth of characters is breathtaking. He understands the rich, the poor, the wretched, and the righteous. All is deeply philosophical, and the experience of reading this spun me into a loop several times thinking and rethinking religion, morality, honor, and despair.
On the Shortness of Life
Seneca
49 AD
8 - 10 Oct 2019
This was fascinating to wrestle with! I don’t agree with some of it, but I think there’s always a time in our lives when we need to hear some good Stoic advice. It’s shocking that Seneca lived 2000 years ago, yet so many of the traps we fall into as humans seeking purpose and joy are the same, and he addresses them thoroughly and methodically.

“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have been passed before them are added to their own.”
From the first essay/letter, “On the Shortness of Life”

Seneca really emphasizes stewardship of our time, and at first I resisted understanding this because I value generosity—i.e., giving my time and energies freely to a wide range of people and activities. Though Stoicism doesn’t naturally align with this sort of idealistically overflowing heart, I still think there’s a lot of wisdom for me to gain in how I give my time and energy, as they can be given foolishly.
Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson
2014
8 Mar - 8 Oct 2019
“The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering.”

The last few chapters of this book have made me think a lot about the suffering I’ve caused others in the name of “justice,” how harsh and unrelenting I’ve been, how inhumane. Stevenson also wrote:
“Fear and anger are a threat to justice; they can infect a community, a state, or a nation and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.”

I realized that when Stevenson talks about “just mercy” he is addressing both the victims and the victimizers (for many of us have been both). He appreciates victims of injustice who forgive those who enacted the injustice on them, and he calls on the public and the state to have mercy on those who commit crimes—to understand the context they come from. We, as both people who have been hurt and people who hurt others, can show compassion and mercy to those who hurt us instead of acting out of self-righteous, fear-induced anger. Not only would this mercy be good, but it would more importantly be just.

“The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”

There is so, so much to learn from this book. I haven’t even picked out the most important parts of this book for the review (such as the history of capital punishment, the cruel treatment of children in the criminal justice system, and the system of mass incarceration in the US); these thoughts are just what linger on with me as I finish the book. I highly recommend picking this one up! Stevenson writes with such honest clarity; his recollection of these important cases is both focused and passionate. I really appreciate this book for teaching me and moving my heart and mind.
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
1932
23 - 26 Sep 2019
The Abundance
Annie Dillard
2016
18 - 22 Sep 2019
Funny, observant, and poetic
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
1871
15 - 18 Sep 2019