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January 2018

Forget true crime--environmental/science writing is the scariest shit out there.

For years now Mr. CR has been telling me to stop bringing home all the depressing nonfiction.

And I'd like to help him out, really I would, so then I started bringing home some more science/environmental books. And I'm damned if this stuff isn't scarier and sadder than all the usual true crime and investigative nonfiction that I usually bring home!

Water will comeOne totally scary science book I read in 2017 was Jeff Goodell's The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (which I found because Goodell had an essay in the also excellent Best Science Writing book that I read in October). It's a book about sea-level rise and climate changes, particularly as they pertain to low-lying cities like Miami, New York, Amsterdam, Lagos (in Nigeria), and Venice, to name just a few.

Although this book is terrifying, and the way that people are responding to rising sea levels and more powerful storms (largely ignoring all of it) is not heartening, Goodell manages to achieve a nice tone between matter-of-fact and awed. Meaning, it was nice to read a book on climate change that said, look, change is coming, maybe we can adapt, maybe we can come up with technology to save ourselves, but what is all of that going to look like?

Take, for instance, the dry journalistic tone in this exchange, when he goes into a Miami neighborhood where there's already flooding:

"While Briceno collected his water samples, I hopped and skipped over dry ground to a nearby apartment complex, where I found a woman named Maria Toubes staring at the incoming water from her second-floor doorstep. She was sixty-five and disabled, a hard life etched in her face. Inside, she had an eight-year-old niece whom she wouldn't let out of the house because of the high waters. Toubes explained that she lived on a fixed income and had moved into this neighborhood a few months earlier because it allowed her to save $200 a month on rent.

As we talked, the water continued to fise, pushing up the street in front of her house and into her driveway. It felt like we were about to float away.

'Have you seen the water this high before?'

'Sometimes it comes up even higher,' she said.

'What do you do?'

She looked at me as if I had asked a very stupid question. 'Stay inside,' she said...

A few weeks later, he [Briceno] emailed me results from the water samples at Shorecrest and around Miami Beach. The indicator that the EPA uses for fecal matter in the water is Enterococcus, which is a bacteria that is easily and reliably traceable. The EPA standard for acceptable contamination in water is 25 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water. According to Briceno's tests, the floodwater in Shorecrest had 30,000 CFUs." (pp. 246-247.)

No wonder Maria was telling her niece to stay inside.

It was a good read. Horrifying, but I think it's on a subject that's only going to become more apparent (and important).


Citizen Not So Much Reading: 29 January 2018.

I'm so sorry that there is no list of reading news links today. Eye wonkiness in the form of more eye strain* has made an ugly re-appearance, so scrolling through hundreds of links in my Feedly service was not in the cards this past week. I feel like a complete wienie, seeing as how Jenny over there at Reading the End is blogging with a broken neck (no fooling--somebody hit her with a car, is that ridiculous? Feel better soon, Jenny) but there you have it. I am a wienie.

There is, of course, one big (and sad) news story: Ursula Le Guin died last week, at the age of 88. Can you believe I've never read one single solitary book by her? Anyone, please make a suggestion for where I should start. My goal for 2018 is to read a Le Guin, in homage.

Another author who passed on last week was Jack Ketchum, who wrote horror books.

I may have eye strain, but I'm not so strained that I can't say a big WOOHOO! and let you know that I got another article published at The Millions: this one was titled Why I Read True Crime. It's super cheerful, as you might expect. Mr. CR has pretty much completely given up on the idea of me ever bringing home and/or reading a happy book.

Speaking of depressing books, here's a list of the "18 juiciest political books" expected in 2018. Bleah.

If you need more book news, don't forget Neal Wyatt over at Library Journal, sharing all the book news that's fit to print at Book Pulse.

And of course, it's just not a weekly post without your obligatory Neil Gaiman link. Here he is, writing about Ursula Le Guin.

*Yes, yes, I am buying computer glasses and reading glasses; I've had enough of this bullshit. Getting old blows.


John Hodgman's Vacationland.

Here's my one-line review of John Hodgman's Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches: I read the whole thing, although I'm still not sure why.

VacationlandOkay, I can give you a bit more information. This is a collection of essays by Hodgman, most known for his spots on The Daily Show and his appearance as the "PC" in the very popular Apple ads from a few years back. I suppose this collection would be called humor, although it mixes humor with enough midlife ennui that while some of it makes me (a fellow midlifer) chuckle, some of it also makes me whimper with both recognition and sadness.

As far as I can tell these seem to be the hallmarks of midlife: short bits of very rueful, very hilarious laughter, mixed with lots of whimpering and sadness.

Ostensibly this collection is about Hodgman's two vacation homes (that's right, two--although he admits his family can't really afford to continue ownership of both houses, you can see why one of his friends refers to his stand-up as "the white privilege comedy of John Hodgman") in western Massachusetts and Maine. Really it's about parents, kids, marriage, the challenges of maintaining physical homes, aging, and making your way through the world as a white man who's been on The Daily Show. It was okay, but it's run through my mind like the sands through an hourglass. Wait...I think I can remember something...the chapter on how Hodgman and his wife backed up their garbage disposal and entire septic system made me laugh very hard. Here's what happened after they inherited the western Massachusetts vacation house from Hodgman's mother, and found a bunch of expired food items they wanted to get rid of, but didn't want to haul to the dump, because there is no trash pickup in western Massachusetts:

"My wife wanted to lay claim to this house and clear all this dead food out, and her plan was to disposal every last bit of it. She started opening and grinding, opening and grinding: cans of Stewart's shelled beans and jars of old pickles and capers. It went on for hours. It was a hot Saturday afternoon. I sat at the kitchen table, watching her sweat and open and grind. It was probably the most erotic moment of our marriage.

Eventually she found her way to the back of the cupboard. She dislodged three boxes of Cheerios, yellow and blue. They were five years old. She showed them to me.

'What are you going to do with that, baby?' I said.

'I'm going to disposal all of this,' she said.

'That's fucking right you are,' I said.

She did. It was a terrible idea. Here is some homeowner's advice. Do not put even a single box of stale Cheerios down the garbage disposal, never mind three. Because when you grind up Cheerios into oat powder and shove them into your pipes with a bunch of water behind them, the Cheerios do not slide easily through your pipes to the leach field (maybe?). They absorb the water and swell up. And then you have a Cheerio tumor in your pipes. And then you have to explain that tumor to the plumber you have had to call to cut it out. He will stand in the basement with his hacksaw, tapping at the Cheerio metastasis, the pipe making a solid, grim thunk.

He will look at you and say, 'How did this happen?'

And you will have to say, 'I'm sorry, Pipe Daddy. We were just having a sexy disposal time.'" (pp. 117-118.)

So yes, his white privilege comedy can be funny, particularly as I am a privileged white female.* Mainly I enjoyed that because I have done many idiot things in my house too, but even I know to treat my garbage disposal and my pipes with respect. (Ask Mr. CR. If he ever approaches the sink with anything I screech, "Don't use the disposal! It's for appearances only! Our pipes are not up to code!!")

*By which I mean I have always had enough food and shelter and I am thankful for those things. I do not usually call myself a product of white privilege, though, because if you saw my farm upbringing and how many hours I've spent in my life doing shit jobs (literally: including cleaning the bathrooms at multiple restaurants and stores in the area), you probably wouldn't call it privileged. Hodgman went to Yale without loans or financial aid. So there's privilege, and there's privilege. And Hodgman is a lot less privileged than a lot of Bushes, Trumps, and Zuckerbergs I could name (who are not funny, so they don't even offer that). I don't mind our culture's conversations about privilege but I wish we would approach the subject with just a tad more nuance.

Citizen Reading: 22 January 2018.

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

What books did President Trump tweet about in 2017?

A new Harry Potter mobile game is coming.

2018 Edgar Awards: Nominees.

Using nonfiction in book clubs for teens.

Encouraging middle-schoolers to choose books.

Guiding readers by interests, not levels.

Children's book author Julius Lester: has died.

Peter Mayle: Obituary.

Author Elena Ferrante will write a weekly column for The Guardian.

Jumanji is doing well at the box office.

TNT's adaptation of Caleb Carr's The Alienist premieres tonight (Monday, 1/22).

Paul Rudd's latest movie, based on a true story, is not doing well, and that makes me sad, because I LOVE PAUL RUDD. The word at Sundance about an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel, Juliet, Naked, however, is good.

PBS will be showing a new multi-part documentary about the role of reading in American culture.


Fire and Fury sold over 190,000 copies in one week. (You want the digested read? See Matt Taibbi.) And, Jesus, we're watching this book in REAL LIFE. Do we really need to see the TV movie version?

This book looks quite interesting: Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, The Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence. Although the scariest part of that article is that there were 650 homicides in Chicago last year? And that was an improvement? Fuck, man.

Hot trend in kids' publishing: biographies of women.

Melba Pattillo Beals was just on NPR; her memoir Warriors Don't Cry is an awesome read, if you haven't read it yet.

"How democracies die."

I MUST get this new book about the dangers of implanted medical devices, even though I'm pretty sure it's going to totally freak me out.

Daniel Pink has a new book out: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

New York Times: The story of a woman abducted by Islamic militants; on the lives of child prodigies. Hmmm. Either I missed some NYTimes links this week or they didn't review much nonfiction.


Booklist: Best new books the week of Jan. 15.

The Week: 21 books to read in 2018.

33 titles to jump-start Black History Month.

Forbes: 3 books to help develop your self-awareness.

Paste Magazine: Best YA books of January.

Bad Feeling Magazine: Favorite Pop Culture books of 2017.


My Reading Year 2018 continues to be Blahsville. I'm dipping in and out of some finance and parenting books, most of which tell me what I already know: make more money and be a better parent. (Sigh. Both of those things sound like a lot of work.) I am not in the mood for anything. I am instead pounding episodes of the British mystery classics A Touch of Frost and Midsomer Murders. Both of those series are excellent for taking your mind off January weather, January blahs, and a new year already filled with not keeping any new resolutions. Yay British TV, helping me avoid reality since at least 1999.


Neil Gaiman reads Edgar Allan Poe.

*Many thanks to one of my favorite readers (you know who you are) for sending this in.

Second great read of the year: Serpico.

Okay, I read Serpico: The Cop Who Defied the System in 2017, too, just like I read Prairie Fires, but frankly, I was ready to be done with 2017 a few weeks before it actually finished, so there's that. I was able to fly through Serpico because it was my book to take along when we stayed overnight at my in-laws' for the Christmas holiday. I love my in-laws and they are very nice to open their house to us, but for some reason I can never, ever sleep there. So I always make sure to take along a book that will keep me company from, roughly, the hours between 10 p.m. (when, if we're lucky, the CRjrs, after all the excitement of presents and cousins and too much food, oh my, finally drop into an exhausted half-sleep) and 4 a.m., when maybe, sometimes maybe, I can pass out and dream anxiety dreams because I know the boys will be up again in two hours and will wake me up with them.

Anyway. This book turned out to be perfect for that purpose, and a completely engrossing read in its own right!

Now, "Serpico" is one of those names I've hazily known about my whole life. Here's what I knew: 1. it was the title of a movie starring Al Pacino (that I have never seen). 2. Serpico was a cop.

And that is it.

But then, I saw a trailer for a new documentary about Serpico, titled Frank Serpico.

And I thought, wait a second, Frank Serpico was a WHISTLEBLOWER?

I am beyond fascinated by whistleblowers. I am, as a matter of fact, a whistleblower groupie. I don't know what this says about my personality, because I think whistleblowers are by and large really complex and really interesting and really important people, but I think they can also be very difficult people.

So immediately I thought, I've got to read the book Serpico: The Cop Who Defied the System*, by Peter Maas (on which the Pacino/Sidney Lumet movie was based). It's a straightforward account of Serpico's youth, desire to be a cop, journey to become a cop, and then his growing realization, after he became a cop, that nearly every other cop in New York City at that time (the 1960s and 70s) was either accepting bribes and payoffs from gamblers, organized crime types, and drug traffickers. Even the cops who weren't taking payouts were going along by acting like nothing was wrong, and this went all the way up to the highest ranks of the department.

Until, that is, Frank Serpico came along. And for a long time he tried to do his own thing, but eventually it became impossible. So he started trying to go to his superiors with his stories, and they were not interested. Then he went to someone in the mayor's office, and they weren't really interested, either, because the 1960s and 70s were not exactly happy sunshine-y times in the history of NYC, and the mayor kind of needed to keep the police department on his side. So then Serpico went to someone in the press, and of course then the shit pretty much hit the fan. And very shortly after that Serpico himself got shot in the face in a drug bust gone wrong, about which incident there is still some question about whether it was a set-up to get him killed or just an honest shitshow.

I just opened this book to find a good quote to use, and honestly, it's the type of book that's compelling wherever you dip into it. Here's the beginning of chapter two, which is the first page I flipped to:

"When he was shot, Serpico was a member of a plainclothes detail in the Police Department. Plainclothesmen are actually patrolmen working, as the name indicates, out of uniform and on special assignment, usually in narcotics, prostitution, or gambling. While corruption in the police force was by no means limited to those on plainclothes duty, the temptations and opportunities it afforded for graft had always been especially high--in narcotics because of the huge profits at stake, and in prostitution and gambling not only because of the money, but because they were two areas of illegal activity that a large segment, if not a majority, of the public constantly demanded." (p. 21.)

It was a great book. Read it. Anyone seen the movie with Al Pacino? I'm going to watch that too (as well as the documentary linked to above, when it's available on DVD).

*Evidently I never knew about this subtitle, which kind of tells you that he was a whistleblower.

Citizen Reading: 15 January 2018.

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

Becky at RA for All cautions, don't get caught up in 2018 reading resolutions until you assess your 2017 reading.

Emerging trend for 2018: More "resistance books"?

Could you use a reading vacation? Yes, yes, I do. Me, a pile of books, an empty room, save for a comfy chair and a lamp and a cuddly blanket? Oh my God that would be SO GOOD.

15 tips and tricks to read more books in 2018.

A new app to help you organize your online reading.

Why are more comedians writing books?

Love self-help books? Try this podcast!

Penguin Random House has bought Rodale Books.

"What history and fiction teach us about women and power."

Okay, I promise to stop posting Milo Yiannopoulos stories, but I just loved this headline: "Perfection: Mil Yiannopoulos Will Represent Himself in Simon & Schuster Lawsuit."

This "backward-books-on-shelves" trend makes me want to hit someone. At least it's bugging other people as well.

Select literary obituaries of 2017.

The GOP is wooing Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance for a Senate run. Ugh. I weary of J.D. Vance.

PEN Literary Service Award winner: Stephen King.

Walters Dean Myers award: Winners.

26 books that are being made into movies and TV shows in 2018.


Both the author and the publisher of Fire and Fury (the book about Trump) are standing by it. (Related: how much money is the author of the book making? 7.4 million?)

Daniel Ellsberg on his newest book, The Doomsday Machine.

A book about trying to find a way to erase things on the Internet.

Novelist J.M. Coetzee has written a new book of essays about other writers.

There's a new biography of Mary Shelley out (to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein).

New York Times: a new history of the Civil War from the points of view of "ordinary people"; what does it take to overcome adversity?; on several new memoirs. (I must get the last of the memoirs in that last link, the Heating and Cooling one, it sounds so awesome.)


Free ebook editions of books that inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love, love, LOVE the big book previews at The Millions. Here is their preview for 2018.

Library Journal: Best Audiobooks 2017

Booklist: Editors' choice, 2017.

February 2018 Library Reads list. It's getting old to write "snore" as commentary for this list, but you know I'm thinking it.

Vulture: 10 of the most exciting books of 2018.

Books most borrowed, January 2018.

USA Today: 10 big books to kick off 2018.

February's IndieNext list. That The Line Becomes a River book is showing up on all the new books to read in 2018 lists.

6 books to read with your kids that celebrate diversity.


I had a spectacular finish to 2017, but 2018 has been slow. I feel like I am doing everything, reading included, while mired in syrup. Or something like that. On the other hand, I am beside myself because I found a book all about the cultures and habits of English people: Kate Fox's Watching the English. Her intro is slow, because anthropologists can't help themselves when it comes to belaboring points, but I still think it's going to be a fun read.


"Neil Gaiman will be a major part of American Gods season 2."

First great read of the new year: Prairie Fires.

I actually read my first great book of 2018 in December of 2017. Let's apply a phrase I believe in and use a lot: "Close enough for guvmint work."*

Prairie firesThe book in question was Caroline Fraser's Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and WOW, was it fantastic.

It is, of course, basically a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House books continue to loom large in our reading and pop culture. And WHAT a biography. Fraser covers not only the woman's life, but also how her books (largely presented as factual, or autobiographical) were actually very careful amalgamations of fact and fiction and personal philosophies (both Wilder's and her daughter's).

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it is actually a dual biography: not only are the details of Wilder's life explored, so are the details of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane's, work and life and loves. And what lives they were. The more I read details of how hard life was on the frontier, trying to build your own house and grow your own crops and stay safe from numerous prairie blizzards, the more I am stunned by how easy life is now. Here I sit in the arctic blast, anxiously listening to my furnace and hoping it continues to kick in. I can't imagine huddling in my little sod or wood homestead, depending on wood I had to cut myself or hay I had to twist myself just to try and keep warm enough to survive. It boggles the mind.

When I first started reading the book, I thought it was a little dry, because when I read biographies I pretty much want all the gritty details. (My main question, of course, involves procreation and parenting, because those are always the details I am interested in: why did Wilder, when she had her first baby in her late teens and her second baby--who, tragically, died shortly after birth--shortly thereafter, never have any more? What was her marriage to Almanzo Wilder really like?) But then I realized Fraser wasn't really holding back, she was just sticking to the facts she knew, which was tricky enough, considering that most of the details about Wilder's life comes from her books, and her books are not actually 100% true nonfiction. And by the time I was done with the whole book, which is excellent and wide-ranging and both clear-eyed and sympathetic, I found that I really had all the details about Laura's, her family's, Almanzo's, and Rose's lives that I needed.

I also had a healthy new appreciation for how great it is to live in this time and place. I spent the next few weeks after reading this book telling the CRjrs, when they went to the bathroom, "Imagine having to go outside to go to the bathroom, to a little wood shack with a hole in a plank. Imagine having to clean that poop pit out yourselves. In this cold weather!" And they both looked at me like I was crazy, but then asked more questions about that whole deal. Because both my own parents used outhouses in their very early years, I was also able to make it personal. "When Grandpa was your age he had to go outside to poop! And go out to care for their animals on these subzero mornings! And grow a lot of his own food!" I probably bored them to death but I certainly reminded myself that my life, filled as it is with indoor plumbing and access to antibiotics, is truly something to be thankful for. Not a bad way to start 2018, actually.

Do read this book. It needs more pictures and it slightly drags in parts but overall--a fantastic and important read.

*A corollary to my overall life motto, as noted earlier, of "Fuck it. Close enough."

Citizen Reading: 8 January 2018

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

Major CPU security flaw: What libraries need to know.

Children's publishing "reckons with sexual harassment in its ranks."

Are fiction sales falling because we're all busy with television?

Like cheesy horror from the 1980s? You're going to love We Read Dead People.

Costa Awards: Winners.

Aharon Appelfeld: Obituary.

Fred Bass, the owner of Strand Books, in NYC, has died.

Elizabeth Gilbert's (author of Eat, Pray, Love) partner, Rayya Elias, has died.

There's a new book club in town, co-sponsored by the New York Times and PBS NewsHour.

Golden Globes 2018: Winners list.

Game of Thrones will return to HBO in 2019. (Related: A different George R.R. Martin book, Nightflyers, will be adapted by the SyFy network.)

"Our favorite children's books made into movies."

Ten books to read before they become movies in 2018.

"It's still white and male behind the cameras."


Go figure: The new "anti-Trump book" (Fire and Fury) has been really popular.

Oh God, can I handle reading another book on the "toxic bro culture" of Silicon Valley?

Lots of great books by women, about women, are on the way in 2018.

Should we all do parenting the way Germans do? (And here's an article about free-range children by the author of this book as well. Normally I want to support free-range parenting, although I'm crap at doing it myself. But lately I've noticed that two little girls are walking home by themselves from the same school where the junior CRjr and I are walking the elder CRjr back from school, and these girls are giving me a heart attack. The other day one of them was walking backwards and continued that way into the road, without looking, where a car had to stop for her. I yelled at her to get back to the sidewalk, and her older sister then informed me, "The cars always stop." Jesus. If you're going to send your small children out alone PLEASE teach them how to look for traffic first.)

On being an independent single woman in the 1930s.

All things medical mostly make my skin crawl, but I find the subject of anesthesia fascinating. Lucky for me there's a new book out that's all about it!

New York Times: two new books about Istanbul; from the "here's a surprise" files, this author doesn't hold out a lot of hope for any kind of resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue; how has literature shaped the human experience?; a history of Texas, from an author whose family has lived there a LONG time; another political book about an election, only this one is about the election in 1968.


Booklist: Best new books the week of Jan. 1.

Forbes: Best Tech Books of 2017.

USA Today's list of 2017's 100 best-sellers. Also from USA Today: Five books you won't want to miss this week.

LitReactor: 15 most anticipated horror books of 2018.

The AV Club: 10 books we can't wait to read in 2018.

2018 Carnegie Medal Read-alikes.

February Buzz Books Monthly.


I posted about this on Friday, but I am still so pumped that I had an essay published at Parent Co. that I am linking to it again here: The Tiny Blue Stocking I Pack Away Each Holiday Season.


In sad news, the woman whose appearance inspired Gaiman's "Death" character in his Sandman series, has died.

A new piece of nonfiction I'm very excited to tell you about.

Good morning!

First off, I hope that wherever you are, you are staying warm and dry. What a start to the new year.

Secondly, today I would like to show off an essay that I wrote! That has been published! That someone has actually paid me for! It's titled The Tiny Blue Stocking I Pack Away Each Holiday Season. Spoiler alert: it's about a miscarriage I experienced a few years back, so if that is too personal an issue for you to read about, I completely understand. If you're up for it, though, please do consider checking it out!

Also: the picture of the beautiful woman reading in bed at the top of that essay? That is not me. That is so not me it's actually hilarious. Except wait, gosh, she's beautiful. Yup, that's totally me.

Have a great weekend, and may no more bomb cyclones or cold snaps or anything hit for a while.

Citizen Reading: What I read in 2017.

This was the year I totally dispensed with trying to act like I enjoy computers or understand Excel. As such, from the start of 2017 I simply recorded what I read in one of my favorite pieces of technology ever: the notebook.

Not only was it easy to keep up with, it was a total joy to leaf back through the pages and review my year in reading. In addition to titles, authors, and quick descriptions, I also recorded any little asides I wanted, like how the books made me feel and favorite quotes. In addition to recording titles, the notebook also made it easier to track books that I got from the library and either started, didn't like, and didn't need to get back, or books that I got, didn't have time to read, but I really want to read at some point in the future. What that told me was how many times in the year I was simply "not in the mood" to read certain titles. In addition to my eye wonkiness, there were several rough patches where I clearly didn't feel like reading books I normally would have loved. I noted these books by writing down their titles, noting "not in the mood" (and sometimes why I wasn't in the mood: "I may actually be done reading parenting books now."), and then circling them and writing "GET BACK" if I thought I would want to read them sometime in the future.

Let's face it. For me it's just more fun to flip through paper than to scan a spreadsheet. I know they're important and all but I hate spreadsheets. All that organization and tiny little cells trying poorly to hold more information than they can show. Bah!

So I don't have real scientific tallies for you, and I certainly don't have Excel-generated graphs. And you've already seen my Best Books of 2017 lists. So here's the big picture*:

I read 69 nonfiction books. 36 of them were by women. 3 of them were by "writers of color."

I read 15 novels, about half of which I hate-read (I'm still recovering from expending a lot of energy on hating Who Is Rich?).

I looked at and decided I didn't want to read or wasn't in the mood for an additional 15 nonfiction books.

I wrote down the titles of 41 nonfiction books that I didn't have time to read, but that I would like to "get back" from the library. This constitutes a partial TBR list, about which I can only say, "oof." This indicates to me that, as much time as I spend reading, I'd still be happy to spend MORE time reading!

I don't know what any of this means, and refuse to draw any conclusions from a half-assed notebook. You want big sweeping conclusions, you go talk to someone who has their act sufficiently together to make a spreadsheet.

Just kidding. My conclusion is this: I would be so lonely without books. And I would be very lonely without you, dear readers. Thanks for reading and thanks for spending some of your time in 2017 with me. I do so hope you will continue to honor me by visiting here as we all sail along into 2018.

*Which actually does not include the reading I did in December; I wrote this post in November. Fuck it. Close enough! There's my mantra for 2018, which is no big change, since that's been my mantra, basically, since graduating from high school.

Citizen Reading: 2 January 2018

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

First things first: Happy New Year! And also, so sorry today's list is rather lackluster. Is it a bad sign that I'm starting the new year already feeling lackluster? Probably. Anyway. Onward!

Think you know what your kids are doing online? Think again.

I'm always happy when book reviewers get a little love. Here Library Journal names their "Reviewers of the Year."

How one school library doubled their circulation.

How to encourage reluctant readers.

Call for murder stories set in libraries!

2017 Book trends.

Book news from my state: the bookstore chain Book World is closing. There isn't a Book World in my town, but there was one in my husband's home town, and I was always glad to see it when we visited. This story has depressed me beyond all reason.

In praise of strange books.

"Looking at U.S. history through a different lens."

Mystery author Sue Grafton has died, at age 77. Once when I worked at a library supervising students, I was working a shift with a lovely young woman and an equally lovely, although sometimes a bit superior-acting, young man. The young man saw the young woman was reading a Grafton mystery and said: "Sue Grafton. H is for Hack." To her credit, the young woman looked up at him, didn't bat an eyelash, then looked back down, and simply turned the page and continued to read. It was a hilarious moment all around. Good old Sue Grafton.

2018 will bring a new Zora Neale Hurston book.

Clifford Irving, hoaxster: Obituary.

Liberal author Marcus Ruskin: Obituary.


Well, you didn't have to read the Milo Yiannopoulos book (he self-published it in July, but here's hoping you didn't have to read it), but perhaps you'd like to see the notes the editor made on it?

I don't know anything about the artist Renoir, but still. This new biography of him looks interesting.

A new history of World War II. I wonder if the World War II publishing juggernaut will ever slow down.

I've actually never read any fiction by Ursula Le Guin, but I want to see this new book of blog posts/essays by her.

Here's a review of Fahrenheit 451 that does it justice.

New York Times: Simon Schama's Belonging: 1492-1900; on the quest for immortality; some guy built his own coffin and got a book deal out of it; scouring biblical history for clues about faith; on earthquakes; on woolly mammoths; best business books; have "waves of destruction" struck Japan?; three books on diseases, drugs, and the world they made; really, we're not destroying the natural world; this memoir about Maude Julien's childhood lived under the control of her cruel father might be more than I can handle.

true crime


The Atlantic: Best books we missed in 2017.

LitHub: 40 booksellers on their best books of 2017.

Best kids' books 2017.

IndieReader: Best nonfiction of 2017.

National Review: The year in books.

CNBC: 8 books to help you become wealthier in 2018. I'll bet you I could read all 8 and somehow wind up poorer. It's a special skill I have.

Just saying the word "bitcoin" makes me bored, but here are six books to help you understand it.

Here come the 2018 book lists!

NPR: Books to look forward to in 2018. 50 most anticipated books of 2018.


Neil Gaiman tells you, in a podcast, how he feels about the Rudyard Kipling story "the Gardener."