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August 2017
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October 2017

September 2017

Reading while not paying attention.

I'm having a very odd autumn. I'm reading a lot, but I can't say I'm enjoying a whole lot of what I'm reading, or paying too much attention to it. I feel like I'm skimming a lot of books, and my feeling while reading them is, "yeah yeah, been there, done that."

IrbyTake Samantha Irby's essay collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Irby blogs at bitches gotta eat, and I've been seeing her book (and its eye-catching cover) get a lot of attention. I did read the whole thing (it's a quick read) and laughed in parts, but after a while I thought, yeah, okay, LOL, I don't mind all the caps, but I GET IT NOW SO THAT'S ENOUGH KTHANKS. I will give her this: she'll tell you anything, and I like memoirists who do that. Take this scene, when she tries to spread her father's cremains in Nashville, on a trip with her girlfriend:

"As the better part of the cremains shook loose from where they had settled, a huge gust of wind came from the east. OF FUCKING COURSE.

Mavis's face was like Munch's Scream painting, all horrified wide eyes and open mouth, as I turned toward her with my dead father's charred bones and fingernails splattered across my face and crackling between my teeth. It was like coming home from a day at the beach, except replace 'sand' with 'gritty Sam Irby [her father] penis and entrails' lining my nostrils and in between my toes." (p. 183.)

And then there was the very different Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm, by Sarah Menkedick. This is a memoir about a woman who spent most of her life traveling, until she settled down on her parents' land in Ohio and became pregnant with her first child. Normally I eat that sort of thing up with a spoon (being interested in both farms and pregnancy) but this one didn't do much for me, even as I kept reading it:

"In my twenties, I flung myself into the world. I leapfrogged across continents, hungering for experience and proof of my own wildness. I taught English to recalcitrant teenagers on Reunion Island, picked grapes in France, witnessed a revolution in Mexico. To be aware was to be outside, under Mongolian skies and in bantam seaside bars, far-flung places where every conversation and scent prickled with exceptionality." (p. 4.)

The writing is fine and the subject is fine but while I was reading all I could think was "blah blah blah you travel it's all very exotic and now you're going to have a baby and connect with the Earth uh huh..."

I know. I'm a terrible person. You're really not going to like this next story.

BookshopLast week I also read a lovely light little novel titled How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry. It's a nice little chick lit-ish romance, it's set in a bookshop, it's further set in Great Britain, and it's got several love stories that get happy resolutions. All of those things should have meant I should have been purring with happiness as I read it. And yet I wasn't. In fact part of me was distinctly thinking, as I said to Mr. CR, "Oh brother, go live your happy little love lives, bleah." Part of it was jealousy that the main character owned a bookshop and made it a profitable concern by the end of the book. I'm very jealous of that.

So there you have it. Don't send any cheerful, nice, gentle, earth-mothery, or lovey books my way this autumn. I won't be fair to them.

Citizen Reading: 25 September 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

It's Banned Books Week; here's School Library Journal's pinterest board on the subject.

A round-up of Becky's (of RA for All) podcast appearances. Very handy.

How to motivate a middle-school reader.

What's hot in audiobooks?

Reporter Lillian Ross: Obituary.

Is conservative author Laura Ingraham really "the world's most powerful woman"?

So of course you know that Bill Clinton and James Patterson are writing a thriller together. But did you also know that Showtime is set to adapt it for television?

Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day images will be on new Forever stamps.

Like the show Black Mirror? Consider this new series of "Black Mirror fiction" books.

National Book Awards: Longlists.

Canada's Giller Prize: Longlist.

FT Business Book Award: Nominees.

Murder on the Orient Express: Trailer.

Goodbye, Christopher Robin: Review and trailer.

Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck, now a movie: Trailer.

Another prequel to Game of Thrones is in the works. I am officially sick to death of Game of Thrones.

Stephen King's It is on track to become the highest grossing horror film of all time.

The best romance films of all time.

5 must-see literary web series.


Hillary Clinton's What Happened sells more copies in hardcover than any other book since 2012. This article explains at least part of the reason why I am no Clinton fan, and will not be reading her book.

I don't own any jewels (for reals; I wear a white gold wedding band and that's the sum total of my jewelry), but I LOVE jewels, and reading books about them, like: Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond.

Looking for Cold War true adventure? Look no further.

I listened to a bit of this program on the radio, and it sounds like it good be an interesting book: Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.

Buzzfeed science reporter Tom Chivers has a book deal for a book about artificial intelligence.

3 books on Latinos in the United States (for Hispanic Heritage Month).

New York Times: Supposedly this book is about how some world leaders agreed to end war in the 1920s (but to me it seems they weren't very successful); a biography of food writer Patience Gray; Alice Waters has published an autobiography; when "corruption and venality" were the hallmarks of America (and hint: the time period in question is not now); on "the education of Ellen Pao" (a Silicon Valley memoir); a "true tale of drug cartels, money laundering, and horse racing".


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of Sep. 21.

Library Journal: Cooking best sellers in September.

USA Today: Great new books for fall.

Washington Post: Best new short story collections for fall.

New York Daily News: 9 of fall's most anticipated books.

The 7 best books of the year so far, as chosen by Amazon. As I am with most things Amazon these days, I am underwhelmed by this list.

Paste Magazine: Best YA books of September.

Great books (for kids) for fall.

The "worst required reading."

20 exceptional books about music for kids.

"20 must-read music books of fall 2017."

50 books by celebrities that are actually worth your time. I'd take the Lena Dunham book off this list, and replace it with Burt Reynolds's But Enough About Me or Patricia Neal's autobiography As I Am, but this is actually an interesting list.


Neil Gaiman to voice mystery character in the next Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

Citizen Reading: 18 September 2017.

I'm doing that thing again where I take a week off from the Internet, because, well, you sort of have to sometimes, don't you? Just so you can keep your sanity. So have a nice week, everyone. Go outside, have a cup of coffee, touch some leaves or something.

But I do feel I should pass this along: the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize is out. And the longlists for the National Book Award have been announced as well.

Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers.

The other day I was talking with a friend who doesn't have kids, but who has spent a lot of time in recent years going to the bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers of her friends. She doesn't mind those types of parties as much as I do (I have a firm "no attendance" policy for any showers to which I am invited, which has saved me a lot of time over the past two decades), but she did say that, particularly at baby showers, she doesn't really need to hear everyone's story about giving birth. And I suggested, well, perhaps women tell her their stories because they don't often get to tell those stories, to anyone.

Labor dayI don't know that there's any truth to that. But I do know this: I love birth and labor stories. I never mind when anyone wants to tell me theirs, and I would love to tell mine, but you have to pick your audience very carefully for that sort of thing. But this has always struck me as very unfair. Look at all the books we read about war, about gory crimes, about love affairs, and love affairs, and more love affairs...and yet hardly ever do we get to tell (or hear about) the very process by which we all arrived in this world.

So when I found* a book called Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers, I was very excited. I was NOT excited that I had to get it through interlibrary loan; my local library always seems to own everything, so it seems very odd that they don't own this one. It's a 2014 book, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. And it is just what its title promises: Thirty firsthand, no-details-spared recountings of how children arrived in the world. So what I'm going to do now is quote some passages from it, and what you should do, if you are at all squeamish about the birth process or the female body, is to GO ELSEWHERE.

This is one of my favorite bits, from novelist Edan Lepucki's essay "If, If, If," about how she really wanted to try unmedicated childbirth and eventually ended up undergoing a c-section. This bit comes in the middle of the essay, when she's still trying to do things the "natural" way:

"I was breathing so deeply and productively, the pain seemed to transform into something else, and I let it rush through and over me. I had tears in my eyes, but they were a comfort. Everyone was breathing with me and holding me, and I felt incredibly safe. I felt like I was dilating, that this baby was coming. It remains one of the most beautiful and important moments of my life, a moment when I was surrounded by love, and knew it, and accepted it.

Turns out, I wasn't dilating, and my baby wasn't coming. I was checked again a few hours later, and I was still only at five centimeters. I felt trapped inside of a demoralizing and exhausting practical joke." (p. 77.)

Well, if that doesn't just sum up labor, I don't know what does. In my experience, never will you feel MORE in tune with your body than during labor. Simultaneously, never will you know LESS about what your body is actually doing.

Another of my favorite bits was from Heidi Julavits, of whom I am not usually a big fan. But this is part of her story, about giving birth in a hospital in Maine:

"My first child was born in a sparsely populated Maine county, where the nearest hospital is considered more hindrance than help in matters of mortality prevention. Many of the doctors who work at this hospital give birth at home. So do many of my friends. Despite compelling evidence against the hospital, however, my husband wanted to go to the hospital. 'If something happens to you or the baby, everyone will blame me,' he said. This might sound paranoid, but it's actually just true, and a fine-enough reason to choose a bad hospital over a good home. Birth makes people blame other people. Even when nobody dies, there is blame galore. You should have waited to go to the hospital. You should have gone earlier. You should have said no to this and yes to that...

The doctor could not tell me how to breast-feed because she didn't have any children and had never breast-fed, and so (according to her) possessed no information on this topic. She'd spent the entirety of my labor in the hallway, reading a Sue Grafton novel. When I was finally moved to a proper room, I found a pair of gigantic bloody underpants on the bathroom floor.

My husband said, 'I guess we should have stayed home." (p. 174.)

Several of these essayists seem to be from the socioeconomic class that makes them want to either have home births or unmedicated births, so I wonder if this collection took any heat for not offering a broad enough cross-section of experiences.

But in all? I found this to be one of my most enjoyable and satisfying reads of the year. (Nearly every single essay here had at least one little bit in it that completely resonated with me, and nearly every one made me cry. From all different emotions. Satisfying.) At last, I got to hear my fill of birth stories. And yet? I could read a lot more collections like this, and I wouldn't mind seeing more about birth and child-bearing in some fiction, too. If I have to keep reading about men and their midlife crises and affairs, after all, it seems only fair that giving birth should get some love in contemporary fiction too. (Although I have read an excellent novel on the subject, and it is called The Birth of Love, by Joanna Kavenna. Go read it.)

*I found it after reading this article by Anna Solomon, at The Millions.

Citizen Reading: 11 September 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Ever get that question at the reference desk where parents are searching for books for their kids who are reading above their grade levels? Now lists are available to help you find books for advanced readers!

Advice on suggesting graphic novels to format novices.

New resources for Banned Books Week.

Publishers Lunch: October Buzz Books Monthly. (a source for used and rare books, it is owned by Amazon) was down a couple of days last week, stressing out indie booksellers.

Conservative publisher Regnery has severed its ties with the New York Times, claiming its bestseller lists are biased.

Like baking? Like mysteries? You're going to love these books.

What's going to be the hot thriller of 2018?

Feminist author Kate Millett: Obituary.

Science fiction author Jerry Pournelle: Obituary.

Novelist Susan Vreeland: Has died, at age 71.

Len Wein, "legendary comics writer and editor": has died.

I'll give him this, James Patterson does give a lot of money to reading causes/libraries.

John le Carre's new novel: an excerpt.

British comedian Graham Norton: has written a novel!

The Christian Science Monitor reviews Nancy Pearl's new novel.

"Books being made into movies we're dying to see."

Game of Thrones was pirated 1 billion times this past summer.

There will be a TV adaptation of the comic The Boys.

Fifty Shades Freed: Teaser trailer.

Dayton Literary Peace Prize: Finalists.

Why awards for writers under 40 suck.


Chef Alice Waters has a new memoir out.

Interested in video games? I am not, but you might be. Here's a new book about them called Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.

A new Middle Eastern memoir, in graphic novel form: Poppies of Iraq.

"He wanted to be a soldier but become a bank robber": audio interview with the author of Ranger Games.

Musician Loudon Wainwright III (father of my beloved Rufus Wainwright) has written a memoir.

"Addiction is a family affair" in this new memoir.

An examination of "America's cheery national facade." As a decidedly non-cheerful person I must get this title.

Nonfiction about the 1970s (in honor of the new HBO series The Deuce).

A new title about campus rape, and how young women are "re-negotiating the rules for consensual sex."

New York Times: A journalist offers yet another heartbreaking look at life in Syria; a book about "fake news" and how long it's really been around; here's the Times's review of the Blurred Lines title, about campus rape, mentioned above; what Greek myths teach us about anger; on the history of "black Detroit"; a new biography of Mikhail Gorbachev; a collection of essays about what TV shows influenced writers; a biography of the man whose "cabinet of curios" became the basis of the British Museum.


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of Sep. 7.

Washington Post: Best science fiction and fantasy of September.

Christian Science Monitor: Best books of September.

Picture books featuring bibliophiles.

16 novels with tween appeal.

Books about money you may or may not like, and why. A very handy list for helping steer readers to the appropriate book about money management.

Ten books you've probably never read, but should.

New nonfiction for the grade school set.


Last week I read Columbine, by Dave Cullen, and then followed it up with Sue Klebold's memoir A Mother's Reckoning, about trying to understand her son's part in the massacre. As Mr. CR said, "Okay, are you just trying now to make yourself depressed?" They were interesting reads, although very, very sad, of course.

We're also reading a lot of chapter books with the CRjrs, and the youngest CRjr has become a fiend for books about the human body. I would SO love to have some sort of medical professional in the family (to go along to appointments and translate for me, since I hate doctors and feel I interact poorly with them) so you better believe I am finding him all the body books I can.


Lucifer season 3: Promo.

Labor Day Reading List 2017.

I certainly hope you enjoyed your Labor Day holiday. As you may or may not know, Labor Day is my favorite holiday. (Okay, I lie, Christmas is actually my favorite holiday, but the MINUTE Labor Day gets cookies, fudge, and as good a song as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" associated with it, then it will truly become my favorite holiday.)

So every year I like to look back at the blog and highlight any books I read that had to do with labor. Here's the list from the past year (links go to my reviews of the books).

Hill, Steven. Raw Deal: How the "Uber Economy" and Runaway Capitalism are Screwing American Workers.

Keizer, Garret. Getting Schooled.

Parker, Willie. Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.

Simon, David: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

Martin, Brett. Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution--From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Moore, Anne Elizabeth. Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking.

Tomsky, Jacob. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.

Kaplan, James. Frank: The Voice. I'm including this bio of Frank Sinatra because it is so jam-packed with info about Sinatra's development of his instrument (his voice) and his financial prowess.

Franklin, Ruth. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. I'm also including this one because it is such an exploration of Jackson's work and development as a writer, as well as a parent.

Kidder, Tracy. A Truck Full of Money.

Hirshey, Gerri. Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown.

Brown, Chester. Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus: Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible. Because if prostitution isn't work, then by God, I don't know what is.

And here are the lists from previous years: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2009.

Citizen Reading: 4 September 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Happy Labor Day! On Wednesday I'll post all the labor-related books I read last year.

"How I became a reader of books."

What are the options for "remote librarianship"?

13 tips for plowing through long books.

Choosing nonfiction for developing readers.

From the ALA: Here's how you can help Texas libraries.

Self-help author/mogul Louise Hay has died, at age 90.

Poet John Ashbery: has died.

Novelist Elaine Ford: Obituary.

Bernard Pomerance (author of The Elephant Man): has died.

What did British author Terry Pratchett dictate be done with his unfinished books after he died? That they be steamrolled, of course.

This is for all you J.R.R. Tolkien lovers out there: 15 Fantastic J.R.R. Tolkienisms to Live By.

Here's a handy list of books that became movies in 2017.

The Wrap: Fall Movie Preview.


I must see this new collection, titled Tales of Two Americas. Although I'm not sure how I feel about this review. It hits all the right notes--"does this book about sometimes marginalized voices include any truly marginalized voices?"--but offers little in the way of concrete suggestions for the anthology's editors to FIND such writers.

How do men recover from war?

This article at MobyLives is about Joel Osteen refusing to open up his shiny huge church in Houston to refugees, but it references a book I'd like to check out: Chris Lehmann's The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream.

New York Times: A new book all about Nora Ephron's rom-coms; two new books about Walt Whitman; on the "erotic pull of rock n' roll"; a journalist reports on American power worldwide; a new history of Warner Brothers (both the family and the studio).


Indiebound: Bestselling books the week of Aug. 31.

The Autumn Book Lists are coming in! USA Today offers 10 cool books for fall and the fall's best political books.

Bustle: Best Novels for Fall; Best Nonfiction for Fall. Their fiction list doesn't do anything at all for me, but the first book on the nonfiction list is Tales of Two Americas. It might be shaping up to be the "it" title of the fall; I'll have to look at it.

Library Journal's Editors' Fall Picks. This is a great list, with a lot of nonfiction, but sadly...I'm not finding a whole lot there I want to read. You? "6 must-read books for fall."

9 nonfiction series for back-to-school reading.

8 fantasy novels to read while you wait for the next season of "Game of Thrones."

Some great YA historical fiction choices.

Three "compelling" science books.


I continue to re-read True Crime books, which is starting to freak Mr. CR out, I think.

The CRjrs and I took back all their books to the public library, as the eldest goes back to school this week and I wanted to start things off in a tidy way. I know he needs his education and all but we will miss him.


The TV adaptation of Gaiman's "Likely Stories" is now available on something called Shudder. I don't actually understand any part of that sentence, I'm just passing along the news to you.