Reading list

I have  been keeping track of books since December 2008, when I realized that my list was overwhelming and if I didn’t write it down, I’d never remember what I read. Some of these are forgettable. Some I will never forget. Most are still in my library, if you wish to borrow. Three stars (at top of list) is ultimate praise, but every book deserves to be read.


  •  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ***

With the snow came the kites.

  • Run by Ann Patchett *** (a favorite writer)
  • Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo ***

     The shit that matters, you’ve got no say in.

  • Child of my Heart by Alice McDermott ***

…I had a funny recollection of Petey’s rabbit trap in the yard – of the thin twig he’d used to prop up the cardboard box, of something slight and fragile holding back a weighty darkness.

  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann *** (WOW!)

There is, I think, a fear of love.

  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese *** The best by one of my favorite writers.

The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.

  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri ***
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami *** (Thanks Meg!)
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin *** (Sad to know of the deception, though I still think he does good in the world.) Also Stones into Schools
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave *** (Chris Cleave is a brilliant writer and story-teller.)

I remember she told me her story once and it went something like, the-men-came-and-they … All the girls’ stories start out, the-men-came-and-they.

  • Incendiary by Chris Cleave ***


  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (with Jeffrey Zaslow) (Making OMHS proud!)
  • Away by Amy Bloom (didn’t quite finish)
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Netherland by Joseph O’Neill (didn’t finish)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson *

Thinking back on it, this evening, with my heart and my stomach all like jelly, I have finally concluded, maybe that’s what life is about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same.  It’s as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never…. Don’t worry Renée, I won’t commit suicide and I won’t burn a thing.

  • A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (What am I missing?)
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore *

Still, there was always a circus somewhere.

  • Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan **
  • Home by Marilynne Robinson

She went out to the garden and picked young spinach, enough to fill the colander, pressed down and flowing over, as her father would say.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Coventry by Helen Humphreys
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  • Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore
  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Infinities by John Banville * (Heard him read at Inprint Houston, along with Verghese.)
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro * (The land of lost things) 
  • In a Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan (Go Roz!!)
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth (I am not a Roth fan, but liked this one.)
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • Windy City by Scott Simon
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Eagen
  • How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
  • The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
  • The London Train by Tessa Hadley
  •  Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin (teaches at Rice)
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff
  • Wildwood by Colin Meloy
  • Father of the Rain by Lily King
  • Taft by Ann Patchett
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
  • In the Bleak midwinter by Julia Spencer Fleming
  • You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
  • The Marriage plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
  • Please Look After mom by Kyung Sook Shin
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Onadaatje
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
  • Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman


  • Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe***
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver ***
  • A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross
  • Dog Years by Mark Doty **

You’re the crown of creation and fodder for every little mite and laboring insect that carries the earth’s own children back into the dirt.  Everything and nothing

  • By Way of Grace by Paula Huston
  • February House: The Story of W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin
  • Decoding Air Travel by Nicholas Kralev
  • Stalking the Divine by Kristin Ohlson
  • The Spirit of Food, Leslie Leyland Fields, Editor
  • Even Silence has an End by Ingrid Betancourt
  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese
  • The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese
  • Nella’s Last War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49 by Nella Last
  • Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford
  • Dakota by Kathleen Norris  (also Acedia and Me) (Rereading in preparation for a seminar in Oahu with Kathleen and the folks from Image.)
  • A Walk on the Beach by Joan Anderson
  • In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith ***

So my last image was as the first. A sleeping youth cloaked in light, who opened his eyes with a smile of recognition for someone who has never been a stranger.


  • Sweethearts by Sara Zarr **
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr **
  • Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr **
  • Once was Lost by Sara Zarr **

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