What I’m Reading

It’s summertime, and that means I’m attempting to finish all the books I started throughout the school year. I’ve done a pretty good job plowing through (fast enough that I couldn’t write about them as I went…).

th-2th-3 I’ve finally read two collections of Sylvia Plath’s poetry: Colossus and Ariel. It makes me wonder what she would have produced if she’d lived longer. Would we have been friends? I fear she would have found me too simple, although she did hold in tension her ambition and her desire to be a wife and mother. I wrote a poem about her the other day because she’s been haunting me lately, and one night on a walk I wondered where similarities are no longer as important as differences.

th-1I also read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix. She’s been mentioned in enough circles now to warrant a read, and I’m glad I did. A lot of what she had to say resonated with me (not fitting into the typical American church, feeling an inexplicable connection with God — even when [sometimes] you don’t want to, etc.). I like how she’s reaching a certain demographic that so many churches are missing, and I wonder where I fit on the spectrum. My favorite part is when she realizes that instead of obliterating the “boxes” the fundamentalist church gave her, she merely changed what went where. This is something I am parsing out (and learning that just moving things from the good box to the bad and vice versa is not the answer at all). There were definitely times I was annoyed with how hard she was trying to be “cool,” but I’d rather that than her fit in. I guess you can’t have it all.

[Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a reading competition with a coworker. Especially when said-coworker is a self-proclaimed “slow reader,” and I, therefore, am most likely the winner. Current score: Magister = 201 Magistra = 584]


Finally getting around to reading The Giver. After watching the movie. After having two students read it for their choice book and present on it in class. After becoming an adult and talking about it as “one of the big adolescent lit books” in class. Enjoying it so far, but we’ll see.

thDiving into this gem I got from my mom for Christmas. I consider myself an essay writer, and yet I find essays difficult to read. Not all the time, but often. Sometimes the writers just seem too wound up in their ideas to actually connect with their readers — and then they’ve lost me. So far, I have loved “My Daughter and God” by Justin Cronin best.


This is not the first time I have fallen a little bit in love with an eloquent older man who seems to have figured some things out. David Brooks is my latest, and this book is phenomenal. He walks us through mini-biographies of virtuous people in America’s past, and I am struck by how deeply a generation’s values shape its people. I would not want to return fully to those values, per se, but I am indeed gathering the best and attempting to add them to my own list of “what’s important.” I keep underlining all of these quotes and wanting to share them with the world — I’m just not sure how. I also want to make my 7th graders read it, but I know they aren’t ready for the ideas of Adam I and Adam II. I suppose this is where I come in: the conduit between deep, critical thought and the expression of those thoughts in 7th grade-speak.

bonhoefferAnd on to my next Bonhoeffer book. This one’s short and sweet and it’s about something I’m thinking a lot about. I still haven’t found a church (despite my fairly diligent attempts), and I’m wondering what Christian community even looks like. Hopefully he helps me find out.






Searching for Sunday — Rachel Held Evans

Yes Please — Amy Poehler

Ariel’s Gift — Erica Wagner

What Do Women Want? –Daniel Bergner

A Field Guide to Getting Lost — Rebecca Solnit

The Sexual Self — Avodah K. Offit

He — Robert A. Johnson

The Enlarged Heart — Cynthia Zoran

The Road to Character — David Brooks

Tips from the Top — Kreigh Knerr

The Giver — Lois Lowry

Pastrix — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Wise Blood — Flannery O’Connor

Ariel — Sylvia Plath

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – -Betty Smith

Far From the Madding Crowd — Thomas Hardy

Colossus — Sylvia Plath

White Noise — Don DeLillo

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious — Gerd Gigerenzer

Housekeeping — Marilynne Robinson


Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics — Margaret Farley

Trail of the Lonesome Pine — John Fox, Jr.

We Should All Be Feminists

Something Borrowed — Emily Griffin

The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexandre Dumas

Every Good Endeavor — Tim Keller

Selected Poems Vol. I — Mary Oliver

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage — Ann Patchett

The Opposite of Loneliness — Marina Keegan

Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, Vol. I — Mary Oliver

Bucking the Sarge – Christopher Paul Curtis

The Rules of Survival – by Nancy Werlin

For the Living and the Dead – Tomas Transtromer

Speak – -Laurie Halse Anderson

Monster — Walter Dean Myers

Bread and Roses, Too — Katherine Patterson

Brown Girl Dreaming — Jacqueline Woodson

The Outsiders — S. E. Hinton

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace — Anne Lamott


The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

Every Riven Thing — Christian Wiman

The Book Thief — Markus Zusak

Ambition and Survival — Christian Wiman

Teach Us to Want — Jen Pollock Michel

We’ll Always Have Paris — Jennifer Coburn

The Orchard: A Memoir — Adelle Crockett Robertson

Dirty Love — Andre Dubus III

Townie — Andre Dubus III

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters — Rick Riordan

Help, Thanks, Wow — Anne Lamott

A Marker to Measure Drift — Alexander Maksik


My Bright Abyss — Christian Wiman

Percy Jackson — The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

Sea at Truro– Nancy WIllard

84 Charing Cross Road — Helene Hanff

Fidelity — Wendell Berry

Selected Poems — Tomas Transtromer

Rules of Civility — Amor Towles

Real Sex — Lauren Winner

What Americans Really Believe — Rodney Stark

Bridget Jones’s Diary — Helen Fielding

Mouth of Fire, Breath of Dreams

Prodigal Summer — Barbara Kingsolver

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — Jonathan Saffran Foer

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage — Alice Munro

tiny beautiful things — Cheryl Strayed

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? — Mindy Kaling

Blink — Malcolm Gladwell

Are Women Human?  — Dorothy L. Sayers


Wild — Cheryl Strayed

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? — Rhoda Janzen

Circling to the Center — Susan M. Tiberghien

Imperfect Birds — Anne Lamott

The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho

Bel Canto — Ann Patchett

Book of Common Prayer — Joan Didion

Slouching Towards Bethlehem — Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking — Joan Didion

Blue Nights — Joan Didion

The Dirty Life — Kristin Kimball

The Four Loves — C. S. Lewis

Surprised by Joy — C. S. Lewis

Stiffed — Susan Faludi

Cinderella Ate My Daughter — Peggy Orenstein

I’m a Stranger Here Myself — Bill Bryson

7 thoughts on “What I’m Reading

  1. Pingback: Ode to My Library | neither here nor there

  2. suzanne

    Cost of Discipleship! I began that way back in 2009, read a few chapters, got distracted by school, and … it’s still waiting. Which gives me an idea: what if I read it too? You’re right – it needs to be taken slowly and carefully. But we could read maybe a chapter a week, and share our thoughts via email, gchat, phone, in person. (Too bad we don’t have those slow Sunday afternoons in the shop right now.)

    What’d’you think?

    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      Yes! That’s a great idea! It’s pretty much what’s happened to me…the poor book is lying in a pile and I’m slightly afraid of it. Let’s start soon!


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