Sunday, December 29, 2013

Books read, 2013

It’s the time of year for making lists—best this, top that, insert number of whatever we’re counting down. And I am nothing if not a type-A sucker for lists. I write them on scraps of paper, in my phone, I have notebooks full of them.

But one thing I’ve never listed—not completely, anyway—are all the books I’ve read in a given year. I tried Goodreads, but that petered out, and I tried to just remember, but that obviously didn’t work. So this year, I started keep track and I’m so glad I did. Thanks to my daily commute, I have a little less than 2 hours every day to read—and I actually took advantage of it this year. (This list doesn’t include all the magazines I read, which, as you can imagine, was a lot, and it does includes a couple of books that I didn’t completely finish because, well, getting at least halfway counts, right?)

Here, in the order in which I read them, are the 27 books I read in 2013:

1.     Apron anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky
2.     This is how you lose her by Junot Diaz
3.     I loved, I lost, I made spaghetti by Giulia Melucci  
4.     Rules of civility by Amor Towles
5.     A tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
6.     Is everyone hanging out without me? by Mindy Kaling
7.     The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
8.     Girls in white dresses by Jennifer Close
9.     I married you for happiness by Lily Tuck  
10. The beautiful and damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Got ¾ of the way through)
11. It starts with food by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig
12. Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler 
13. Beautiful ruins by Jess Walter
14. Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
15. Paris in love by Eloisa James
16. What the dog saw by Malcolm Gladwell (I skipped a couple stories)
17. Maineby J. Courtney Sullivan
18. Wallflower at the orgy by Nora Ephron
19. Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
20. Attachmentsby Rainbow Rowell
21. Where’d you go Bernadette by Maria Semple
22. Major Pettigrew’s last stand by Helen Simonson
23. Seating arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
24. Sweetness in the belly by Camilla Gibb
25. The interestings by Meg Wolitzer   
26. The best American nonrequired reading edited by Dave Eggers (Still a few more stories to go here)
27.  Gone girl by Gillian Flynn (I’m reading this one now)

It’s not a particularly highbrow list. There are lots of bestsellers on there, and a few Kindle versions that I downloaded from the library because that’s all there was. I threw in a couple classics—A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, namely—because I should have read them already. (And I should say, for the record, that that was my favorite of the year. For the first 300 pages or so I couldn’t get into it, but then something just clicked, it got really good, and I one hundred percent understand why it’s on school reading lists.)

I really don’t know what was with with food/romance memoirs but I read three of them. (I am also a sucker for this genre, apparently.) And collections of short stories are obviously not for me, since I tend to skip around. Plus, it’s funny to see the particular points of the year when I was reading what—it was Fitzgerald around the time when “The Great Gatsby” movie came out and It Starts with Food was research before we did our Whole 30 back in May.

Overall, the books were all pretty entertaining and I’m looking forward to actually making it to 30 in 2014. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I was waiting for my train the other day, and realizing I had nothing to read, ending up buying the most recent edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading. I actually haven't really read any of the Best American series since I was in college and we were assigned The Best American Magazine Writing edition for a class. But I read this in the introduction, and I love what the writer, Walter Mosley, wrote about reading: 

"In the modern world reading is an essential activity like eating or loving, or going to war or even surrendering to a truth that, because it's undeniable, is also inescapable. Reading, I believe, is one of the few activities that increases, deepens, and expands the capacity of the human mind; it is a process that is at once conscious and unconscious, personal and solitary but also interpersonal and even social." —Walter Mosley 

You can read the whole introduction here

photo credit: Bravo_Zulu_ via photopin cc

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fall, this year

This is a photo of the leaves on a tree in our backyard. Obviously. Simple enough.

 It’s cheesy, for sure, but sometimes it’s just really nice to find pretty things that you weren’t expecting to be there. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend in Austin

When I made my “30 before 30” list last year, visit Austin was pretty high up there. But just like number 13, go horseback riding, and number 15, win a radio contest, it never actually happened. (Though number 12, visit San Francisco, did, so I’m considering it a win.) So I moved it to this year’s list and, go figure, not even a month after my birthday, I crossed it off.

It was actually pretty spur-of-the-moment too—we bought our tickets just a week before leaving. But we had the perfect excuse: Italians. I don’t know about you, but I think having tourists in town is the ideal excuse to do fun things that you’ve always said you wanted to do but haven’t actually done. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge? Did it this summer. Go apple picking for the first time? Did it four fall’s ago. See the Thanksgiving Day parade? Did it a few years before that (and won’t ever do it again.)

This time, we found out that two of John’s cousins from Italy were coming in to visit their brother, who’s studying in Texas, for a couple weeks. We decided to meet in Austin, and John, my sister-in-law Jen, and I flew down.

The weekend was the best time: We rented a house, we slept in, we walked up and down South Congress, we drove to San Antonio, and we ate. In fact: Make a list of stereotypically American foods (hello donuts, cupcakes, and bbq) and eat them all over 3 days? Did it on this trip.

A few photos:

Since there were 6 of us, we rented a big car (I mean, when in Texas..) so we could actually all fit. 

After brunch at Magnolia, we drove to San Antonio for the afternoon. 

The water was dirty, but the bikes were pretty. 

Back in Austin 

Words of wisdom, on South Congress 

Cheers to Texas beer and bbq 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh hello (again)

I could start by saying that it’s been awhile. Because it has. So now I’m faced with two options: Just start writing again, or do another intro post. Intro post it is!

I’ve been blogging on and off since 2001 (Was it called blogging when we used LiveJournal?) and when I think about what I want this space to be, I’ve always imagined it as a place to write about what inspires me, what I’m doing, what books I’m reading, and on and on. But, as someone who’s kept a journal fairly consistently since 1992 and has boxes filled with letters, notes, and random concert tickets from college, I want it most of all as a record, as a place to mix photos with thoughts with ideas.

So in that spirit, I’ve found my way back here. And I’m pretty excited about it. 

(For a few more details, go here.)