(Sorry for the long delay between posts – the intervening weeks have found me moving house from the Upper East to Upper West Sides of Manhattan; dealing with some weird health stuff; preparing for a(nother) totally unexpected joint reconstruction; and finalising my divorce from Paul. Work has been intense, but with significantly less travel.

That said, I’m just digging my way out of the chaos and putting my life back in order. So without further ado…)

A Quarterly Update on What I’ve Been Reading:

30.  Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) (memoir; story of the author’s life on a coffee plantation in Kenya as the unhappy wife of a Swedish Baron. Lyrical; descriptive; a product of it’s time, but respectful)

31. The Rules Do Not Apply – Ariel Levy (memoir; a long-er form of the author’s New Yorker “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” longform piece about miscarrying in Mongolia. The New Yorker piece was great. The Rules Do Not Apply was tedious, but Levy’s description of Al-Anon meetings struck a bittersweet chord.)

32. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (dystopian fiction; this was particularly excellent in my estimation, but Cline has been criticised for his portrayal of female characters as conquests/objects, so watch for that.)

33. Priestdaddy – Patricia Lockwood (memoir; story of a girl whose father was a Catholic priest. Lockwood is a poet so this reads particularly lyrically, if a bit meanderingly. Enjoyable, but in my view, not that worthy of all the praise heaped upon it.)

34. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity – Steve Silberman & Oliver Sacks (medicine; critical review of the history of autism science; whence it came; where it is going. This review of the science and the culture is an interesting and positive look at neurodiversity.)

35. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates (memoir; journalist’s letter to his son reflecting on the black experience in America. Fascinating; heartbreaking; personal. Some of it’s just plain interesting because of who Coates is as a person; some of it’s eye opening because my experience is so different.)

36. Bleaker House – Nell Stevens (fiction/memoirBritish MFA program participant gets a grant to go anywhere in the world to write her novel and she chooses the Falkland Islands. It’s a fun read, but it’s not that good.)

37. Grit – Angela Duckworth (nonfiction; book about the science of resilience.)

38. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil de Grasse Tyson (physics; a primer on astrophysics; while not as brief or easy a read as the title would indicate, if you’re interested in science and the universe, it’s worth checking this out.)

39. The Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare (theatre; if you’ve ever had a crazy jealous spouse, this never gets old.)

40. The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded – Molly McCully Brown (poetry; I heard about this book on the Fresh Air podcast where Brown was being interviewed after she won some prize for this work. She’s a poet with cerebral palsy and she was discussing being a writer with a disability. This collection of work was inspired by growing up near a state asylum. It’s really breathtaking – strong recommend!)

41. Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather (fiction; the life and death of French priests in the frontier southwest.)

42. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl (psychology; I was told that this is “one of those books you have to read” – it’s the story of an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who developed his own approach to psychological healing and happiness.)

43. July’s People – Nadine Gordimer (dystopian-ish fiction; Gordimer’s dystopian vision of the end of South African apartheid.)

44. Autumn – Ali Smith (fiction; this one is from the Mann Booker Prize Shortlist and it’s being called the “first great post-Brexit novel.” Personally, I find Helen MacDonald’s post-Brexit writing a little more relatable, but that should probably speak volumes about me and my experience of Europe and England. This was an excellent, uncomfortable book.)

45. Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders (fiction; another Mann Booker Prize Shortlist pick. This is one of those books that is terribly hard to get into – the writing is choppy and told in many, many different voices, but once you get into it, you’ll be glad you stuck with it. It’s a clever, clever book, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the toughness.)

46. The Most Good You Can Do – Peter Singer (philosophy; Prof. Singer essentially writes about how to be a mercenary philanthropist; how to maximise the amount of good you can do in the world. Do you become an investment banker rather than an NGO worker because you can donate more cash? This book was recommended by a colleague’s college-aged daughter, and what Prof. Singer suggests challenged the hell out of me.)

47. Future Tense – Jonathan Sacks (religion; Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of London and this book is about reframing the Jewish experience into one of positivity and community and suggesting that the things worth having are the things worth working for; asking the question “What Comes Next?” both in life and in faith.)