Category Archives: Uncategorized

RIP Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” — Maya Angelou

December 23

Lettered Ladies Book Club: My take on Tolstoy, the Purple Chair, and the Act of Reading

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch To read one book every day for a year: that is the kind of goal I can get behind. As a professor, I read for hours every day, but those hours are usually scattered upon student papers, historical and theoretical works, and […]

October 30

Vampires, Scarecrows, and Human Silkworms, Oh My!

Vampires in the Lemon Grove Stories by Karen Russell Vampires and monsters tend to be predictable. Pale and pretty, driven by bloodlust and romantic yearning, their recent pop-culture ilk have been a bit dull. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a surprising or unusual story of the macabre. Karen Russell makes me feel […]

October 25

Little Free Library Find: Marry Him

So I stopped at my nearest Little Free Library (do you have these where you live? They are fantastic) while on a walk with my son, and while there were no children’s books that day, there was a battered ex-library copy of the 2010 book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, […]

October 10

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

“He tells me how the Great Lakes came to be. All where Lake Huron is now, he says, used to be flat land, a wide flat plain. Then came the ice, creeping down from the north, pushing deep into the low places. Like that—and he shows me his hand with his spread fingers pressing the […]

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 […]

August 30

In memoriam: Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Digging   Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.   Under my window, a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: My father, digging. I look down   Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in rhythm […]

July 19

China Miéville’s Mental Calisthenics

Miéville stretches me. Reading his fiction is like doing yoga of the imagination. With each twinge and contortion, I discover mental muscles I didn’t know I had. His fiction defies categorization: it is fantasy and horror and science fiction and biting sociopolitical critique, all in one heady jumble. Miéville has won several Arthur C. Clarke […]

Chapter One

Once upon a time, a graduate program in the English Department at the University of Iowa brought a handful of ladies to Iowa City.  They each hauled with them boxes upon boxes of novels and essays and poems, gradually discovering that the only thing they loved as much as reading those books was talking about […]