Category Archives: Personal

A Decade of Novel Readings!

My very first post to Novel Readings went up 10 years ago today. It wasn’t much: a quick comment on Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Rereading it today, I’m amused to see that careless applications of the label “Dickensian” was already a pet peeve, but I’m also interested to see that my appreciation for Dickens himself, as a self-conscious and effective […]

The Soundtracks of Our Lives

On Facebook there’s a meme going around of people posting a list of the albums that inspired or defined their teenage identities. One thing all the lists I’ve seen so far have in common is that they’re all pop music of one kind or another. I wonder if that’s because it’s a genuine rarity for […]

2017: In with the New Year, Much Like the Old Year!

We don’t stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve anymore. I can’t remember when we gave up on this tradition, exactly. The last New Year’s Eve I specifically remember was 1999-2000: remember the Y2K panic? We didn’t really expect a dramatic catastrophe on the stroke of midnight, but it was hard not to wonder […]

Happy Holidays!

It has been quiet around here again! And what’s my excuse, since I turned my grades in so long ago? Well, in my infinite wisdom I had committed to three book reviews to be done by the end of the year, so while I have been reading and writing, it hasn’t been for Novel Readings. […]

Fear of Failing

Earlier this year there was a lot of buzz when a Princeton professor published a “CV of Failures.” I know: “Princeton professor” and “failure” hardly seem to belong in the same sentence. But that was pretty much exactly why Johannes Haushofer decided to make his record of rejection public. “Most of what I try fails,” […]

Time Passes

I’m reading To the Lighthouse for the first time. I know, I know. I also know that I should love it, because it is beautiful and moving and brilliant and original — and I sort of do, so far, except when I don’t. I am not a particularly good reader of Woolf’s fiction: it was only […]

Sedentary Mascots: The Turner House, and My Houses

Humans haunt more houses than ghosts do. Men and women assign value to bricks and mortar, link their identities to mortgages paid on time. . . . We live and die in houses, dream of getting back to houses, take great care in considering who will inherit houses when we’re gone. Cha-Cha knew his family […]

On This Day I Complete My 49th Year

It sounds more poetic when Byron says it! Also, of course, he was only 36 — and I think that was the last poem he wrote, whereas I certainly hope this is not my last post! There’s nothing particularly poetic about turning 49, in any case. It’s not a landmark age, and I’m not doing […]

This Week In My Classes: Teaching as Therapy

Not for them — for me! I have actually noticed this often over my teaching career, but it has been particularly evident to me this week, when I have been feeling quite frustrated, angry, and disheartened by things that need to stay off this blog (at least for now): teaching is good for my mental […]

Happy New Year! and New Books! and New OLM!

2016 is getting off to a good start in my corner of the world. For one thing, I have a lovely array of new books, thanks to the kind people who basically ran my entire Chapters wish list. Isn’t that an enticing stack? My problem now is that I can’t decide where to start: rereading Mr. […]

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