What Should I Read Next?: Slice of Reading Life #sol18 11/31

Podcasts are a help and a hindrance to my reading life. A hindrance because the time I could and used to spend listening to audiobooks I now spend listening to podcasts. And a help because some of those podcasts are about books. My latest bookish podcast discovery is What Should I Read Next, where host Anne Bogel interviews guests about their reading lives and then recommends books to them. The show follows a structured format that I thought I’d borrow for a slice.

Three Favorite Books: 

I admire people who can rattle off their three favorite books, but ask me to name my three favorite books, and I’m stuck. What genre or format are we talking about? What time of my life should I focus on? Is favorite the same thing as influential? Are my favorite books the ones I’ve reread the most often? I suspect three totally different favorites would occur to me tomorrow, but for today, here are three of my favorite books:

i capture the castle

I Capture the Castle.  First love and sister love and money trouble and making do and writer’s block and that crumbling castle and diary keeping and a bull terrier named Heloise and perhaps the best first line in fiction (“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”).

encyclopedia of ordinary life

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Did any writer ever observe her life and her world as carefully and thoughtfully and generously as Amy Krouse Rosenthal? I pick this book up sometimes intending just to read a page or two, and an hour later, I’m still reading. The best kind of memoir–about nothing at all and everything.


Page by Paige. Exquisitely drawn graphic novel about a teen who is trying to live the life of an artist by following guidelines given to her by her grandmother. A book about creativity and daily practice and finding where you belong.

One Book You Hate:

I thought at first that there aren’t many books I hate. I am an active book abandoner, so I just don’t finish what I don’t like. But then I looked back at my Goodreads one-star ratings and discovered quite a few books I really hated. (And a whole bunch I don’t remember at all. Was it really a one-star read or was I just having a very cranky day?) Since I try to be positive-ish on my blog, I decided to choose a book that has a safely dead author whose feelings could never be hurt by my words should they foolishly have Google Alerts set up for themselves.

miss hickory

Miss Hickory. The most traumatizing children’s book ever written. I’ve written about it before, back when I was trying to complete the Nerdbery challenge. There is so much wrong with this story, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I think we can sum up this way: What kind of children’s book ends with the main character’s head being eaten by another character?!

What You’re Reading Now:


Provenance is my bedtime read right now.  I chose it because the author, Ann Leckie, wrote one of my very favorite novels, Ancillary Justice.

prince and dressmaker

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a new graphic novel I’m reading very slowly, just a few pages a day, because I’m enjoying it so much and don’t need to have it finished until Tuesday, when I’ll book talk it in my Children’s Literature class.

the having of wonderful ideas

The Having of Wonderful Ideas is my current professional development read. I have dozens of PD books I want to read, so I’m not sure what led me to pull this one off the shelf last week, but I love her definition of intellectual development and learning as the having of wonderful ideas and the feeling good about yourself for doing so.

What’s One Thing You’d Like to Change about Your Reading Life?:

I’d like to read more books for grown-ups. I love picture books and informational books and middle-grade novels, and I always have an endless list of titles I want to get to. Because this kind of reading feeds my work life and classroom, it’s hard to prioritize the personal reading that doesn’t necessarily get recommended or book talked in my classes. But I am always seeking a more balanced reading life where I also read books just for me.

What about you? What are your favorite books? What are you reading right now? What would you like to change about your reading life? And, in the spirit of the podcast, what should I read next?







13 responses to “What Should I Read Next?: Slice of Reading Life #sol18 11/31”

  1. Emily Culbertson Avatar

    Well, I am reading The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. And I AM LOVING iT!! Yes, I am behind the times.
    Some of my favorite books are The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (I have enjoyed many of her books), Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and anything by E. Lockhart.
    I would like to change my cyclical reading habits. I read and read and read, tirelessly. Until the day when I don’t. Then I go for a long, stupid stretch without reading a thing. It makes no sense. I’m hot or cold.
    If you haven’t read any of my favorites, I beg you to give them a try.

  2. Emily Culbertson Avatar

    I forgot, I’m also reading Mindsets and Moves by Gravity Goldberg. Again, I am behind (by at least a book here). It is marvelous and easy to read and I ran out of post-it bookmarks twice.

  3. Tamara Avatar

    Thank you for reminding me of The Having of Wonderful Ideas. It was a favorite of my mentor teacher, so I read the first edition early in my career. I imagine I would get a lot more out of it if I reread it now! I’ll have to see if I can find it.

    I hesitate to recommend books, because I have quirky taste in books. With that caveat…Two “adult” books that I’ve loved in the past year or two: Mink River by Brain Doyle & The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. Bonus for Sy Montgomery’s book: she also wrote The Octopus Scientist, a middle grade informational text for the outstanding Scientists in the Field series.

  4. Wondering and Wandering Avatar

    I love the idea of interviewing yourself. I am certain it forced you to reflect and respond in a whole new way. Definitely borrowing that one. I’ve only read two of these. I love I Capture the Castle and The Having of Wonderful Ideas. I agree that podcasts (and Twitter chats!) can rack up your Amazon bill, or better yet your interlibrary loan account. Right now I am reading Katherine Applegate’s verse novel Home of the Brave for my refugee experience book group. It’s fabulous! Thanks for adding to my list!

  5. persistenceandpedagogy Avatar

    First, I really like this format for a slice. What fun. Second, I love I Capture the Castle, and I actually put Amy Krouse Rosenthal on hold at the library yesterday because of your slice (thanks!). I’ve just started American War by Omar El Akkad and I’ve just finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which I found funny and touching. My recommendations? The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley is fantabulous YA. And, if you like Ann Leckie, may I recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell? Won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (1998) and is really thought-provoking. (First bit is slow – it’s ok to skim along until they get off Earth.)

  6. margaretsmn Avatar

    I like this format, too. I have trouble writing about books. Not sure why this is true of me. Maybe I could explore that in a slice.
    I loved The Hate You Give and anything by Nicola Yoon. For adult reading, I’ve been listening because of the time element. I recently finished Hunger by Roxanne Gay. She brings up a lot of important issues in our culture and the Audible is read by her which makes it more powerful. I don’t give it 5 stars because it was repetitive and I wanted her to come to a solution which she doesn’t, but that’s real life for you.

  7. Ramona Avatar

    I listen to this podcast too! What a great idea for a slice. I’m saving my answers for a future slice. I’ve read I Capture the Castle, but it’s not one of my faves. I love memoir so will check out Amy’s book (checked it out once before, but didn’t get to it before it was due back). I was dismayed by your dislike of Miss Hickory until I realized the one I like is Hitty: Her First One Hundred Years, not Miss Hickory. Happy reading! Stealing your idea for a future post.

  8. Scott Day Avatar

    Love your comments about “favorite” books. I, too, am perplexed by this topic. Most books I read are “favorites”. If I don’t enjoy a book I don’t finish it. Recently, Brooke Bolander made a insightful comment that has remained with me: We read what nourishes us. I’ll have to check out Ancillary Justice. I’ve heard excellent comments about this book. Hope it is nourishing.

  9. arjeha Avatar

    Right now I am reading Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz. It is the third book in his Orphan X series. I am enjoying it as much as the previous two’ I like this format for a post. I would have to stop and do some serious thinking to answer some of the questions.

  10. susan kennedy (@readingteachsu) Avatar

    What an eclectic mix. THanks for the pictures drastically recommendation

  11. karpenglish Avatar

    I love the What Should I Read Next podcast! I’ve made a little game for myself to see if there is ever an episode where they do not even mention even one book that I have read. So far, I am batting a thousand. I read pretty broadly. I have put a ton of books on hold at the library because of this podcast, which is great, but for most of last year I was reading 6 at a time as a result. I am trying to even things out a bit this year. I loved I Capture the Castle. Several people your comments mentioned Ancillary Justice, which was just recommended to me this afternoon. Fun post!

  12. Akilah Avatar

    If you haven’t read Station Eleven, you should since I assigned it to my students.

    Also, I get tired of YA sometimes and move to middle grade and then when I wind up reading adult lit, it’s about teenagers. So I guess I just am who I am.

  13. tbreitweiser Avatar

    I am so excited to see another fan of WSIRN!
    I have listened to her podcast and read the blog forever!
    I just finished reading FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper. It was awesome

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