readwell



READING




READ



Either/Or, Part I
Søren Kierkegaard
1843, transl. from Danish by David F. Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson
13 Sep 2020 - 8 Jun 2021
The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton
1920
22 - 30 May 2021
spent a rainy, dreamy, intense weekend inside this novel
Old Times
Harold Pinter
1971
24 May 2021
really glad I picked up this strange little play
Faust
Johann von Goethe
1832, transl. from German by George Madison Priest
Apr - May 2021
A Beautiful Question
Frank Wilczek
2015
10 Jan - 9 May 2021
A Secular Age
Charles Taylor
2007
17 Nov 2020 - 24 Apr 2021
A mammoth of a work that provided incredibly insightful historical context to the story of how we got to where we are today in this "secular age". Taylor problematizes the mainstream over-simplified narratives that we use to understand the arc of Western religious history, and offers much more nuanced, careful, fascinating accounts of the various major shifts that happened: from the medieval "golden age" of Christianity, through the Reformation and Scientific Revolution, and into the 20th century "supernova" of spiritual directions and cross-tensions. I found this to be such an interesting read that has really challenged the assumptions implicit in our modern understanding of belief, time, art, meaning, and embodiment.
Under the Net
Iris Murdoch
1954
18 Mar - 8 Apr 2021
Thoroughly enjoyed! Murdoch's style and humor really hit the spot for me. It's a light, kind of absurd adventure vis our cheeky but good-natured protagonist, with musings, wanderings about without a place to sleep, impulsive scrambling to and fro around London and Paris, over-grandeurizations, off-hand philosophical debates, and taking love and life day by day.
Bone
Yrsa Daley-Ward
2014
24 Feb - 2 Apr 2021
The Night of January 16th
Ayn Rand
1936
21 Mar 2021
trying to read more drama! (but probably less Ayn Rand..)
The Thirtieth Year: Stories
Ingeborg Bachmann
1961, transl. from German
17 Feb - 16 Mar 2021
Bachmann is my literal hero. One day I need to sit down and properly articulate why her writing so personally stirs me. There is a persistent element of authoritative neuroticism running through her narrative voice. It is moody as a default, with patches of warmth; a constant questioning; a frustration with language, with boundary; impulsive and urgent. I get to see some interesting characters in these stories, many effusing the sort of cold and indifferent qualities of the impenetrable who're being swept by a dominant conviction. The title story, "The Thirtieth Year," and "A Step Toward Gomorrah" knocked me over completely.
Dune
Frank Herbert
1965
7 Nov 2020 - 6 Mar 2021
finally i've finished book one, very interesting ideas, especially about manufactured mysticism, and geo-engineering, but the story has just begun
A Woman at Bay (Una donna)
Sibilla Aleramo
1906, transl. from Italian by Maria H. Lansdale
6 Feb - 1 Mar 2021
Fascinating, moving
The Electricity of Every Living Thing
Katherine May
2018
12 - 15 Feb 2021
I really appreciate Katherine May
A Haunted House and Other Stories
Virginia Woolf
1921, 1944
24 Jan - 15 Feb 2021
Wonderful, brief, varied, moody gusts of Virginia Woolf. I think if you haven't read much Woolf before and you're looking to dip your toes in, this is an excellent place to start. Her deceptively slim novels are dense and require (at least from me) an intense amount of concentration, so I understand the hesitation to read them. The stories in this collection, though, are each less than 10 pages, and are the perfect afternoon dose of Woolf. There is something vital and essential to Woolf's writing for me; it seems I can't go too long without it before slipping into a kind of gray literary torpor.
On the Improvment of Human Understanding / The Ethics / Selected Letters
Baruch Spinoza
1677, transl. from Latin by R. H. M. Elwes
2 Dec 2020 - 7 Feb 2021
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Alan Watts
1966
.. Jan 2021
.. let's let this marinate for a while .. certainly the most framework-of-reality-challenging thing I have read recently
Her Body and Other Parties
Carmen Maria Machado
2017
11-23 Jan 2021
electrifying and genuinely frightening. I liked how Machado played love and fear off one another, sometimes they worked together and sometimes they pulled in different directions or overlaid each other, like in the haunting (from a covid-19 perspective) recounting of a woman's partners against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic. I appreciated how sex as a narrative element was never quite antagonistic/scary, but instead another layer of enthrallment. the body was a weird meeting place for the supernatural, for lust, psychosis, dis/embodiment. these stories were riveting, surprising, thrilling, mysterious. they inspire in the reader a hunger for more ...
Wintering
Katherine May
2020
21-22 Jan 2021


2020



Bluets
Maggie Nelson
2009
31 Dec 2020
We Need to Talk
Celeste Headlee
2017
12 - 17 Dec 2020
A Mathematician's Apology
G.H. Hardy
1940
8-9 Dec 2020
A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara
2016
Mar - 6 Dec 2020
[slam my heart into the ground]
--
This book really pokes the central wound of life right in the cornea. Yanagihara has given the world an enormous, epic, astounding empathic feat. I thought I would break or implode so many times throughout the reading process, yet somehow I've come out whole: mad at these 700 pages, for what they've done to me, the state they've left me in, (the memories they've given to me), but also in awe -- a much bigger awe: at Yanagihara's achievement; at our (the author's and the reader's) disappearance into this world; at the painful lifesource of friendship; at the beauty and fragility and uncertainty of being; and at the incomparable intimacy of sharing an entire life with people you love and who, mysteriously, love you.
Ravel: Man and Musician
Arbie Orenstein
1968
15 Jun - 2 Dec 2020
Ravel's the man but this biographer was not too illuminating. The best parts were direct quotes from Ravel, such as

"[O]ften it is not until years after, when the means of expression have finally surrendered all their secrets, that the real inner emotion of the music becomes apparent to the listener."

And (on the composition process), "I find a long period of conscious gestation, in general, necessary [...] I may thus be occupied for years without writing a single note of the work--after which the writing goes relatively rapidly; but there is still much time to be spent in eliminating everything that might be regarded as superfluous, in order to realize as completely as possible the longed-for final clarity."

In general, it's been fascinating to learn more about the lives and (first-hand) thoughts of the artists I admire (Woolf, St. Vincent Millay, Ravel, Weil, Nin), and I definitely would like to continue this thread.
Liberating Theory
Michael Albert, Leslie Cagan, Noam Chomsky, Robin Hahnel, Mel King, Lydia Sargent, Holly Sklar
1986
15 - 26 Nov 2020
provides some structure and clarity; I mostly agree with everything here, but as a proposed theory it was underwhelming
Philosophical Sketches
Susanne K. Langer
1962
Fall 2019 - 18 Nov 2020
I love this little philsophy book. Because each essay ("sketch") is relatively short, every argument/speculation packs a punch and invited me to think more formally about a wide range of essential topics: language, evolution, society, knowledge, consciousness, art, meaning. I found the sketches startling in their precision and rational creativity. I'm so glad I picked this up and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND AND NOW HAVE SO MANY NEW IDEAS IN MY HEAD!
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
Anne Carson
2002
..
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde
1890, England
3 Aug 2020 - .. Sep 2020
!!
Waiting for God
Simone Weil
1951, transl. from French
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, transl. from German
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, transl. from Japanese
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, transl. from French by Stuart Gilbert
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, transl. from Russian by Lynn Solotaroff
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, transl. from Italian by Ann Goldstein
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, transl. from Russian by Constance Garnett
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
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradburry
1950
2 - 5 September 2019
Delightful, thought-provoking, and occasionally cynical tales of humans’ first contact with and subsequent habitation on Mars.
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Rebecca Solnit
2005
5 Jul - 28 Aug 2019
This book was an absolute pleasure. Solnit’s beautiful prose was a comforting companion for many of my long train rides this past month. In these essays, she gives words and shape to the abstract and intangible vastnessss of the unknown, of longing, and of life in a startling accuracy that I’ve never experienced before. “Abandon” is spectacular! Should anything ever happen or not happen in the world, I would want Rebecca Solnit to recount it.
Emma
Jane Austen
1815
1 Jul - 15 Aug 2019
Lovely and delightful (the wittiest voice I’ve read in my recent memory!), let me live inside this world for a little bit longer...
The Abolition of Man
C.S. Lewis
1943
20 Jan - 16 Jun 2019
This is C.S. Lewis’s defense of objective value. Lots of good stuff in here!! “The Abolition of Man” essay was quite haunting to read 40 years after it was written... we seem to still be headed in the direction that Lewis postulated and feared. Reading it gave me a helpful framework for understanding my unease about our growing technological might. I wonder what Lewis would have thought about artificial intelligence! Ha! I will continue to think about all this slowly over the next few months/years.
The Leavers
Lisa Ko
2017
9 Apr - 15 Jun 2019
Beautiful, this book is like an emotional sour punch
Sour Heart
Jenny Zhang
2017
8 - 15 Jun 2019
Wow, I’ve never been so moved to unexpected tears—and secret feelings and aching reminiscences of childhood and (most of all right now) devastation that the pages have run out—by a collection of stories. These stories are beautiful and sometimes ugly and painful in their truth, in their never-ending hope, in their curiosity, and most wonderfully, in their pure joy and embodiment of love. I really experienced the full spectrum of tears while reading this—thank you so much for bringing these to life, Jenny!!
On Doing Nothing
Roman Muradov
2018
26 - 28 May 2019
:) A short, whimsical, and beautiful quasi-literature-review of the benefits and wonders of idleness in art, writing, and life
Anthem
Ayn Rand
1938
25 May 2019
Worship of “We” vs. worship of “I”

A perspective from the 1940s that I have honestly not encountered today, because it’s like it’s already engrained in our individualistic society. Rand argues for the worship of the “I” — the individual — above all else, and as a means in and of itself. It’s pretty wild to think that now, 70 years later, this is where we are. I’m afraid Rand and Objectivism hasn’t worked out, though, since people are curiously unhappy when they try to live for only themselves and their own happiness. I might still read more of her work, though, to get a better idea of it all.
A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki
2013
29 Jan - 1 Apr 2019
A wonderful combination of deep-dives into a collection of interesting subjects, including: Buddhist principles of time, quantum mechanics, birds, family, suicide, 9/11, Japan in WWII, what it means to live and die, and agency in fiction. I particularly loved the exploration of meta-fiction and the careful teasing of (but not quite fulfillment of) surrealism throughout this novel. A Tale for the Time Being is hard to explain to other people, and that's one of the reasons I love it -- it was at the same time investigative and magical, dark and light, pensive and emotional, informative and questioning -- truly an enjoyable, compelling read.
Sophie's World
Jostein Gaarder
1991, transl. from Norwegian
31 Dec 2018 - 26 Jan 2019
Fun book! Sophie’s World is a pretty simple and digestible overview of Western philosophy. I found it a useful springboard for finding philosophers I wanted to read more of. The book did drag a bit, but I don’t think it’s meant to be read all at once.
A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf
1929
2 - 6 Jan 2019
I really enjoyed this essay! I admire and adore Virginia Woolf so much, and of course recommend this. I found it a bit quicker and lighter than her fiction, so it’s a good read for being outdoors on a nice day :)

I think also after reading a lot of queer-feminist theory this past semester, Woolf’s prose and opinion on women and fiction was refreshing—full of wit, hope, and appreciation of literature and life.


2018



Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke
1929, transl. from German
27 - 29 Dec 2018
I really enjoyed this little collection. Rilke is astonishingly gentle in his advice and wisdom, and his love for and confidence in life, art, and solitude is comforting. In these letters Rilke also addresses romantic love, sickness, hardship, and God. I would recommend this to anyone seeking guidance or perspective on writing, art, or simply being.

“Always wish that you might be able to find patience enough in yourself to endure, and single-heartedness enough to believe; that you might win increasing trust in what is difficult, and in your solitude among other people. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, at all events.” Rilke, 1904
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Madeleine Thien
2016
27 Oct - 26 Dec 2018
Wow. This novel makes me feel as if I've just lived several lives; I hope these lives stay with me. Thien has created an intimate web of characters that I felt like I disappeared into; their hurt was my hurt; their dislodged and repressed longing my own.

I will never forget the unbreakable, timeless yet heartbreaking bond between Sparrow, Kai, and Zhuli (and so many others).

The characters' lives have the quality of being so unquestionably, undeniably lived. After a 10 hour plane ride--at least 5 hours of which were spent reading this book--it was difficult to re-enter my reality thinking that the lives in the book were fiction, while my life was real.

I enjoyed this novel's meditation on the space and time between people, between ideas, between what one desires and who one is--much of which was told through the lens of music and mathematics: the growing and shrinking of time; the way it may freeze, the way it may silence; the freedom of silence; the endless cycles of time, music, and generations.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing grapples with a chockfull of questions that may be unanswerable, or which would take a lifetime to answer. What makes a life empty or full? What do we/can we hold onto inside when everything is taken away? Is it possible to really begin again? To change?

This novel and its stories has touched me so deeply. Thank you Madeleine Thien for writing this; I don't know much about you or your life, but within this book there were threads of hurt, love, and confusion that felt so lived, so experienced, that they were special and real in a way only a personal story can be.
Love
Toni Morrison
2003
18 Nov - 20 Dec 2018
This is actually the first Toni Morrison book I’ve read—picked it up on a whim because of the title in a used book store and just sat down to start reading it that day. (I had been itching for a good, immersive novel that said something profound about love.) This novel ended up being something entirely different, though. I thought it spoke more to vengeance, betrayal, youth, and power within families than to love. Or perhaps these are the ways that love when betrayed can become hate. The array of characters Morrison gives us are startlingly rich, and the non-linear timeline adds a sense of mystery to the story as it unfolds.
Songmaster
Orson Scott Card
1980
3 - 23 Aug 2018
Ah wow. When I started reading this book, it immediately became one of my favorite sci-fi books. It’s a really beautiful exploration of love (maternal/paternal, filial, romantic) and emotional control. The mechanics of the plot are also complex enough to make it feel like a typical sci-fi, world-building novel. Lots of places of my heart were touched!
The Trial
Franz Kafka
1925
22 - 30 July
:0 Yea
The pace picked up toward the middle and the story became this intriguing knot of anxiety and absurdity. Joseph K.’s character development wasn’t amazing, yet I don’t think I can ever forget him. At the core he embodies the very human frustration with one’s own (inescapable) entanglement with human-made absurdities. As K.’s fear and anxiety grows to be more diffuse and suffocating, logic becomes convoluted and he gets stuck in the unnecessary web of the court system itself. I found it so interesting that on many levels I could relate to that feeling — when fear goes on overdrive and I become immersed in the very thing I didn’t wanted to care about.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
1967, transl. from Spanish
13 Jun - 21 Jul 2018
Wow
The Stranger
Albert Camus
1942
27 - 28 May 2018
Hmmmmmmmm
The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
1963
17 - 26 May 2018
o man

The Bell Jar is an apt and startling portrayal of depression and of being suicidal. I resonated a lot with the book because of my own experiences. It was overall a pretty heavy book (despite Plath’s sharp humor - I actually laughed out loud a couple of times). There was incredibly precise, fresh, descriptive language throughout the entire work. It’s beautiful, and I’m glad it eventually got published, though I’m still heartbroken about Plath herself. The bell jar can return and descend seemingly out of nowhere :(

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.”
The Waves
Virginia Woolf
1931
22 Feb - 14 May 2018
wow!!!!!!! wow
Tuesdays with Morrie
Mitch Albom
1997
31 Mar - 9 May 2018
wonderful book :)
Letters to Kelly Clarkson
Julia Bloch
2012
28 Apr 2018
I liked this collection! It's light, colloquial, insightful, funny, intimate, and sometimes strange in a wonderful way.
The Woman Warrior
Maxine Hong Kingston
1976
21 Jan - 21 Feb 2018


2017



The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
2015
14 May - 24 Dec 2017
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
David Eagleman
2009
8 May - 11 Nov 2017
fun, light, thought-provoking
Dogeaters
Jessica Hagedorn
1990
3 Jan - 28 Apr 2018
WHAT A BOOK

Highly recommend, Hagedorn is extremely talented, and this book is quite the feat
Dear Jenny, We Are All Find
Jenny Zhang
2012
6 May 2017
Crush
Richard Siken
2005
4 Mar 2017
Night Sky with Exit Wounds
Ocean Vuong
2016
4 - 6 Jan 2017
destroyed me


2016



The Vegetarian
Han Kang
2016, transl. from Korean
3 Sep - 28 Dec 2016
The Awakening
Kate Chopin
1899
16 - 27 Jul 2016
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Haruki Murakami
1985, transl. from Japanese
1 Jun - 6 Jul 2016
If you liked Calvino's Invisible Cities and if you like Murakami, I think you'll enjoy this.