Reading 2017

It was a tough decision, but I’d have to say this was the best book I read in 2017.

I didn’t read quite as much in 2017 as I’d planned, but I made it through some wonderful books. Starred entries were especial favorites of mine.

*A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Perfect Place by Teresa E. Harris
Nightmare in Berlin by Hans Fallada
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
*A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Warcross by Marie Lu
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
**Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Happy Dreams by Jia Pingwa
*A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
**Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Whetting Stone by Taylor Mali
Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters AND Seymour, An Introduction by J.D. Salinger
Rattle 55: Civil Servants (poetry journal)
*The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (23)
*Rattle 56: Mental Illness (poetry journal)
*Incest by Christine Angot
Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
Lincoln on the Bardo by George Saunders
Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler
Purity by Jonathan Franzen
*Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
*Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
*Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
*My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgard
*Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
*The HandMaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
**The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
*I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flasar
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

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scaramucci1 style2

on the ash heap of my history

This is fucking shit.
A major catastrophe [for me].
I’m not a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, not a paranoiac.
Give me understanding, time, a day…something.

They won’t do it.
They’re trying to resist me,
     and fuck, it’s going to work.
Honeymoon period || cock-blocked.
The lie detector starts—if you want something,

I want to get on track.
I’m not trying to suck my own cock.
I’m a straight shooter.

Crazy nailed me.

What I’m going to do is, I’m going to eliminate and start over.
I haven’t protected anybody.

Fuck it all.

I resign to defeat.

1Anthony Scaramucci is the shortest serving White House communications director, managing only 10 tumultuous days under Donald Trump. The above piece uses only his words, as quoted by Ryan Lizza in his article in The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. (source:

2Other than word sourcing, the piece has nothing to do with Scaramucci…it’s about something significant in my life, but not politically connected.

freedom of expression

“According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Writing has, for as long as I remember, been a central part of my life. I don’t know what I’d do without it – expressing my feelings and ideas, working through difficult situations (both good and bad), creating, innovating, documenting.

Reading is the same. Knowing I’ve access to anything at any time, and curling up in a chair to devour the written word – this has sustained me for 38+ years. Times when I literally had nothing else, I always had a book.

What happened to the media on Friday places everything at risk. Plenty of others have written important pieces decrying the White House’s decision to exclude media outlets they view as overly critical of Trump. The implications are enormous – suddenly, it’s not okay to express yourself in America any longer. Now, only good news can be allowed. News this new regime approves.

Whether you support the people running this mess of a country or not, you should be sorely vexed. Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, these are two of the hallmarks of any nation that could even begin to call itself free. Suppressing the media means more than just distorting the news (which now we must contend with as a people in a way never before – distortion pressed openly by a regime scared of both people and expression), it means that suppression of free expression in general is quickly on its way.

What happens now to other forms of expression – visual arts, literature, music, film? We see what’s happening to our freedom to demonstrate – 18 states are trying to suppress and criminalize peaceful protests staged by citizens. The White House is attacking protestors with ridiculous accusations and vitriol. This is yet another strike against a free nation. We are sliding swiftly down a slope toward totalitarianism.

Freedom of expression is under attack – what are we, as a citizenry, going to do?

I feel like we’re living in the fictionalized past of another nation – McCarthy-esque, complete with book burnings (bannings), friends turning against friends, families destroying each other, media used to subjugate the populace. What’s happening right under our noses, before our very eyes?

Will my children be able to walk the streets in peaceful demonstration against the acts of their government, as guaranteed by the First Amendment? (“…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances…”)

Will they have access to honest and researched reporting about what’s happening in their own nation and around the world?

Will they have the freedom to read whatever they choose? Watch movies? Listen to music?

Or will we all stand back and watch as our liberty is taken, our rights trampled, and our country slips into tyranny and oppression?

– my random thoughts on this wonderful day –


10:55am Kate, Lily, and I are in the car headed downtown. The excitement is palpable – we’re nervous, happy, and determined. We’ll be meeting an old friend of Kate’s with her daughter there, and hopefully many hundreds of fellow marchers.

11:12am I sit in the back seat and wonder if there will be people present protesting the March. I’m also thinking about the very real possibility that we see free speech come under attack from the new administration. I’m worried…

11:36am Parked at the corner of Yazoo and West. Walking to the March.

IMG_927212:45pm There was a picture at noon of all marchers on the capital steps. We then heard 2 dynamic speakers, and MARCHED! We stood in front of the governor’s mansion a while and chanted and sang…I’m not sure how many people are here, but it felt like a large crowd, excited and energized to have our voices heard. Now we’re back to the capital steps and listening to additional speakers.

1:15pm We called it quits for this march. I was feeling a little pitiful, plus we had 2 kids who seemed about ready to go as well.

It’s was a great protest, for my first time doing it! Kate and I agree that we’ll definitely be looking for the next one to participate in.