• 2017 Reading Goals (a post of lists)

    Thérèse RaquinMy 2017 reading goals are a little more focused this year. I didn’t meet my Goodreads reading goals last year. In fact, I read fewer books in 2016 than I have read in previous years. It’s disappointing, but it happened. I was very much involved in other things- social justice, working for a horrible company that took advantage of me and did not pay me, and trying to refocus our financial security so that it was more of a blanket and less of a fire alarm.

    This year, I wanted to try something different. Rather than setting my reading goals based on a random number, I made a list of all the books that I want to read and decide how many books that I would complete this year based on that. Choosing a random number is far more stressful in the long run.

    My focus is on reading various works of fiction AND on expanding the number of works of non-fiction that I read. I am also ensuring that I read books written by authors from different religions, cultures, races, sexual orientation, and gender identification. My goal is to expand my world view.

    Reading Goals:

    • 80% of the books read should be books that I already own. Those are tagged with an “*” below.
    • Books that I have read previously don’t count unless I am rereading them with my daughter (**).
    • YA books that I am reading with my daughter count.


    1. The Wool Pack by Cynthia Harnett
    2. Of One Blood by Pauline Hopkins
    3. A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
    4. The Evening and the Morning and the Night by Octavia Butler
    5. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson***
    6. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson***
    7. Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
    8. Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson***
    9. Dunne by Frank Herbert*
    10. Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden
    11. The Conquest of Plassana Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola
    12. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allendale***
    13. The Infinite Plan by Isabel Allendale***
    14. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn*
    15. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs*
    16. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie***
    17. How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway*
    18. Son by Lois Lowry*
    19. Tree of Life by Maryse Condé*
    20. Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson*
    21. The Last of the Empire by Sembene Ousmane
    22. I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalioridis*
    23. Kindred by Octavia Butler*
    24. No One Writes the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marques*
    25. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott*
    26. Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott*
    27. Eve: A Novel of the First Woman by Elis*sa Elliott*
    28. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
    29. Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa
    30. Asunder by Chloe Aridjis
    31. Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang (Author), Karen S. Kingsbury (Translator)
    32. The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin (Author),  Ken Liu (Translator)
    33. Branded: Fall of Angels by Keary Taylor
    34. The Legend of King Arthur by Sir James Knowles***
    35. The Devil’s Lament by Kenneth W. Harmon*
    36. The Wrong Girl by CJ Archer*
    37. All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland*

    Short Story Collections

    1. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury*
    2. Summer Lightening and Other Stories by Olive Senior*
    3. The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Wolf by Virginia Wolf*
    4. The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights by Richard Burton*
    5. The Metamorphosis and other stories by Franz Kaftka*
    6. The Oresteia by Aeschylus*


    1. Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett
    2. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
    3. The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting by Alice Miller
    4. But Some of Us are Brave by Kasha (Gloria T.) Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith
    5. The Gnostic Gospel by Elaine Pagels*
    6. How Jesus Become God by Bart D. Ehrman*
    7. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins*
    8. Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan and Jane Yolen*
    9. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley*
    10. The Republic by Plato*


  • Brave New World In Our Messed Up World

    Brave New World In Our Messed Up World

    As part of the Back to Classics Challenge, I chose to reread Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I first read this novel in 8th grade at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in NYC, however, I do not think I fully grasped the ideas presented in the book at that age. I do remember feeling torn apart by the ideas of controlled destiny.

    I grew up in a home where I was always fighting for control. I often felt that I needed my mother’s permission to simply exist. By high school, I longed for the freedom to be flawed. This battle had a devastating effect on me, and I spent much time withdrawn and creating drama where none existed just to have a reason to rage. Continue reading

  • Back to the Classics Update

    My original post about this Back to the Classics challenge is on my now defunct personal blog, but all future updates will be here. It took me a while to finish  Brave New World as I had forgotten how intense the narrative is and how much it can drain me while reading. I love the book, but it is deep!

    All books that have been read have been striked-through. Books that I am currently reading are in RED.

    Here’s my list:

    1.  A 19th Century Classic – The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (CURRENTLY READING)

    2.  A 20th Century Classic – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (CURRENTLY READING)

    3.  A classic by a woman author – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Completed: Review Here) Continue reading

  • Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

    Originally posted on  Kristinabrooke.net

    A Classic Written by a Woman

    Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Shirley Jackson. While I did enjoy “The Lottery” in the past, something about her writing has always bored me to tears. Maybe she is too descriptive? Is that possible? My vivid imagination prefers to do the work and weave the images in my mind. She gives me too much. At any rate, I’ve avoided reading anything by her since completing a book of her shorter works back in early 2000. I did choose  We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the Back to Classics Challenge after reading some positive reviews about it on GoodReads.

    A quick summary. “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” tells the story of Merricat and Constance Blackwood, sisters who live in s large house in a small town with their Uncle Julian, and a cat. Their entire family has been murdered by arsenic which was sprinkled in the sugar bowl and eaten during dinner. Merricat was spared because she was sent to her room without supper and Constance never took sugar. Uncle Julian was just lucky although he has been harmed both mentally and physical by the small amount of poison of which he ingested. They are tormented by the townspeople – adults and children alike – and while Merricat ventures out into town once a week, Constance and Uncle Julian are recluses, with Constance suffering from what seems like social anxiety. They have cut themselves off from the town as much as they could and continue to live their lives in the comfort of their secluded home. This changes which a cousin with sinister intentions arrives. Continue reading