Category Archives: Novels

June 23

The Marriage Plot

Although it has spent a solid couple of years languishing on my bedside table, I finally picked up Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot a few days ago.  If I’ve done anything else the last few days, it has only been reluctantly, since this is a book I have despaired putting down and parting with, even […]

What are you reading this summer?

I have started so many posts for this blog in my head over the past few months.  A post about My Age of Anxiety, which I actually finished ages ago and would probably have to reread at this point to properly write about.  A post about Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine and another about Leslie Jamison’s The […]

April 09

Reader Empathy

We’re reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist in my World Literature class right now. Included in the brief Q&A at the back of our book is a comment from author Mohsin Hamid about why he writes: “I believe that the core skill of a novelist is empathy: the ability to imagine what someone else might feel.” After […]

March 24

Spring Break Reading

I’ve noted before how excited I get when I have a break from teaching and can tackle the stack of “fun” and/or “mindless” books underneath my coffee table. Spring Break is no exception; I love this week of relief between meetings and grading and comforting stressed-out seniors, and my rest and recovery usually includes some […]

February 19

Endings

I realized last week something that I probably always knew – my favorite part of a book (or poem or story or movie) is the ending.  In two different courses with two wildly different texts in front of me (a collection of contemporary Chinese short stories and a poem from 1633), I gushed in front […]

January 12

(Un)sympathetic Characters

I tell my students that my favorite characters are the messy, complicated ones – the ones who do horrible things and are mean and rude and unlikeable, but still tug at our heart and push us to question our own values and choices.  They are completely unsympathetic…yet at the same time completely sympathetic, too.  Take […]

October 09

The Delights of Poison and Bicycles

Reading a Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley is like sneaking into a room you’re not supposed to enter and discovering a strangely carved chest of drawers with secrets inside. It is thrilling, delectable in the possiblities it offers, slightly dark and dangerous, and unabashedly fun. Flavia is the kind of eleven-year-old girl I […]