What We’ve Been Reading

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, or even a list of the “most recent” books–just what we’ve been reading, in case you’re looking for a good book. We promise we won’t put on books that we aren’t enjoying!

November 25, 2010

Liz: I’ve been reading a ton over our Thanksgiving break. At Iowa State we get the whole week off (much needed since we don’t get a fall break). I’ve read Racism: A Short History (which focuses the definition of racism pretty narrowly so that it mainly looks at how we got to Apartheid, the Holocaust, and the Jim Crow laws), which I found disappointing in its narrowness, but informative overall. I’ve also read God, Seed: Poetry & Art about the Natural World by Rebecca Foust and Lorna Stevens, Stephen Spender’s Selected Poems (why didn’t I learn about him, ever? I picked up his book at a library book sale and it’s fantastic), and now I’m finishing up Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I feel like Angela’s Ashes should have been required reading at some point, but for me it never was. I’ve also been catching up on my backlog of Time magazine!

September 26, 2010

Liz: The Book Thief. So, this is assigned for class and arguably a young adult book. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Death is the narrator (and in my mind, Death is also a poet). To keep it short and simple, it is not your typical World War II story.

August 23, 2010

Brenna: The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass is easily the best of the 20-odd books I read this summer, if for no other reason than that the story “Pagans” is absolutely on point.  As an opening story it’s tough to live up to, but none of its fellows disappoint.

April 12, 2010

Liz: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (no that’s no typo). Fforde likes to write books with literary themes and puns. They’re clever and a great escape from the serious Literature I’m supposed to be reading in grad school. The thing is though, the more I read that Literature (especially Classic Lit) the more I “get” the Thursday Next and Nursery Rhyme Crime series. Like those series, Shades of Grey is planned as a series–but this time in a dystopian world where people are valued by the amount of color they can perceive. Spoons are highly valuable commodities and we follow the protagonist as he’s sent to a remote town to learn Humility by doing a chair census. Everything anyone does is to help the Collective and there is a lot of speculation about “the something that happened” to the Previous (we are The Previous). This book contains Riffraff, carnivorous swans, and Yataveo plants that’ll be happy to swoop you up and dunk you in their digestive juices if you get too close.

February 25, 2010

Liz: I grew up in the South and have a special fondness for Appalachian Lit (it’s said with a long A, like in the word cat). Although it’s been out for a couple of years, I’m just now getting around to reading Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (author of Cold Mountain). If you like(d) this book, you should also check out Harriette Arnow’s The Dollmaker, a story about a woman and her family who move from Appalachia to Detroit and the book opens with the main character performing a tracheotomy on her son–on a mountain, during a rainstorm.

February 25, 2010

Brenna: I like minimalist fiction, both writing it and reading it.  Although, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my fair share of expansive prose, too.   Recently, I found Kiara Brinkman’s Up High in the Trees stashed on a lower shelf in Borders (I know, I know, but there aren’t any small, independent bookstores locally.).  There was one copy.   Brinkman is an MFA graduate (Goddard College, in case you’re wondering), so hey, let’s see what an MFA graduate published as her first novel, right?  I read a couple pages and was hooked.  Here’re a few opening lines:

Here it is in my head, right in the part where I keep feeling it and knowing it.  Dad knocks on my head like my head is a door.  He knocks softly because Dad has big, soft hands.  He says my name, Sebby.

Sebby, he says, earth to Sebby.

I come back then, but the things I know stay stuck where they are and I keep knowing them.

How’s that for a eight-year-old’s perspective?  If you feel like a unique narrator and minimal, lyrical prose, this one is worth the read.



  1. Love that Frazier book! isn’t cat with a short A?

    • Probably. I (Liz) never took a formal English class on those types of grammatical things. ::sigh::

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