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I have started off the year well. I finished seven books in January. The last two years have been off years for me. While I’m not looking to read 100 books this year or anything, it would be nice to read more than I have recently. I supposed we’ll see.

  1. Robin Hood by J.C. Holt (3.5/5) – I have a thing for British legend/myth. I always have. It surfaces occasionally, as it did here. This isn’t a retelling of the legend, but an academic exploration of it. It’s an interesting book and I mostly enjoyed it, but Holt was a little to fixate on the idea of their being “right” answers. I would have liked more cultural context and less discussion of the minor outlaws who could have been the loose basis of some of the stories.
  2. Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals (4.5/5) – I hadn’t read this before, but as I’m currently teaching it, I had to make sure I’d read it first. It’s a disturbing and fascinating first-hand account of the Little Rock Nine. And, as with too many things, feels especially timely of late.
  3. Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman (5/5) – This was a fantastic novel set in a vaguely dystopian near-future at a dilapidated primate research institute. It manages to touch on a number of issues without ever becoming heavy-handed. The whole thing is beautifully and delicately written. An early candidate for my end-of-year list.
  4. The Remaining Life by Maria Gabriela Llansol (4/5) – The second of her books I’ve read from this omnibus of three novels I have. Just as strange as a first one. I’m glad her books are short because I think they require small doses as they exist somewhere in the space between novel and poetry. They definitely make me feel and think, though.
  5. Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas (4/5) – This was really interesting. It reminded me of a bunch of things I’ve enjoyed Lincoln in the Bardo, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Winesburg, Ohio. A very interesting portrait of a moment in a particular place.
  6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (5/5) – Teaching this. If you are a member of a culture that has participated in colonialism/oppression of indigenous people and you haven’t read this, you need to.
  7. Jazz by Toni Morrison (5/5) – Also teaching this (does teaching three different books at once sound fun? No. Good, because it isn’t.). Anyway, this is still my favorite Toni Morrison novel (though I haven’t read them all) because of how it plays with truth and perception. The use of language and structure is really masterful.