The Long Take, by Robin Robertson

What a way to end one reading year and start the next. I found Robin Robertson’s The Long Take devastating, fascinating, and beautiful.

I had never heard of Robertson until he was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, but he’s an award-winning poet “known for his exquisite descriptions of the natural world and dramatic, violent retellings of Greek myths,” according to Sibbie O’Sullivan’s review of this verse novel in the Washington Post. I’d say those talents are both on display in this story of Walker, a World War II veteran with PTSD. Marked by the war, he feels he can’t go home to Nova Scotia, to his family and the girl with “pure blue” eyes he left behind, so he wanders through New York, San Francisco, and most of all Los Angeles, looking for a way to live with himself and his pasts. Walker’s story is told mostly in verse, with prose flashbacks. But if you’re not a poetry person, don’t be put off by that. It’s simple, readable blank verse full of powerful images. Continue reading

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My Year in Reading, 2018

I would have said 2018 was not nearly as good a reading year for me as 2017, but when I sat down to look back, I realize that feeling is more a reflection of my mood this year than of the books I read. It’s true I didn’t read anything I loved and admired as much as 2017’s standouts, Autumn and Reservoir 13but there were plenty of highlights. Here are some, along with trends in my reading and possible directions for the new year.


The first book I finished in 2018 was Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, and that last was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, both books I loved as a child and still do. That made a nice (though unintentional) frame for my reading year.

My best 2018 resolution was one I stole from someone at Book Riot: to “bookend” my days with reading. Part of my goal was to cut down on my social media and screen time. Starting the day with politics news on Twitter was not good for me. I didn’t stick to this every day, certainly, but I kept coming back to it and overall shifted my habits in a happy way. I’m renewing this one for 2019. And as a result of this “bookending,”

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My 2018 PopSugar Challenge

I have a year in reading post in the works, but I’ve been knocked out for several days by the traditional holiday family cold, so that will have to wait a bit. Here instead is an overview of my PopSugar 2018 challenge reading, which I managed to finish a couple of days ago. I wrote a little something about most of these at Goodreads, but I am afraid I’m way too  lazy to link each book. I stretched some categories, and I used two books I’d read before (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and A Murder of Quality). So a little cheating, but not bad.

Thanks to the challenge, I got to some TBR books I wouldn’t otherwise have dug out so soon–or maybe at all. I found some interesting things I wouldn’t otherwise have read. But by the third quarter of the year, I was tired of it; I felt obligated to finish but it mostly wasn’t stretching my reading in ways I cared about. So I won’t do a challenge like this again.

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Fall Check-In

The thing about book blogging is that you can’t do it if you aren’t reading, and I’ve been struggling this fall. I read a grand total of three books in September (four if you count the romance novel manuscript I read for someone–and I do, because I enjoyed it a lot, but I can’t blog about it).

I know I’m not the only one who is often distracted by the news (or “news,” because how much of it is really worth attention?) these days. I was better at focus over the summer, but I’ve been drawn back to the firehose of Twitter recently, maybe because the looming US election has increased the intensity of its blast. It’s a distraction I’m always working to reduce.

But I’ve also had my perennial fall troubles with reading: until I adjust to back-to-school busyness, I’m often too tired to read much at the end of the day, and I have student work to read again, which can sap my attention for reading other things. Now that I’m adjusting to the work routine, those problems are easing. I have read two books so far in October, which isn’t great but may put me on track to do a little better than September. What have I been reading? Continue reading

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New Year Resolutions and Summer Reading

A Fresh Start

I’ve been going back to school almost every September of my life, so this is a much more natural resolution-making time for me than January 1. There are all kinds of things I plan to start up/get back on track (far too many, as always), and one of them is blogging.

I thought of this summer as a fallow period. I checked in regularly on work email and managed some ongoing tasks there, but I didn’t really think about work or plan for the tweaking of my course that I scrambled to do in the last two weeks of August. Continue reading

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