Things I am Reading (and want to read); An Opening

Books that as of today are changing my life:

The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness, by Pema Chodron

Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach

My dearest bosom buddy Farrah recommended Natalie Goldberg for writing inspiration, and she is also changing my life. And that is what I am looking for. To come home to myself, and to let happiness land on me like a swallowtail, instead of grasping desperately for it like a new monkey, learning to traverse branch to branch.

Novels Natalie has used in her writing retreats, by season, because I want to read them over time (she assigns 4 books per season…that’s a goal I could consider!):


Fierce Attachments, Vivian Gornick

Mitchell  & Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz; William Zinsser

Montana 1948; Larry Watson

Waiting for Snow in Havana; Carlso Eire

Mockingbird; Charles Shields

The Song of the Lark; Willa Cather

Three Day Road; Joseph Boyden

(she recommends To Kill a Mockingbird…should I re-read it? Love that book!)

America Is in the Heart; Carlos Bulosan

Miriam’s Kitchen; Elizabeth Ehrlich

My Life in France; Julie Child

The Woman Warrior; Maxine Hong Kingston


At the Bottom of the River; Jamaica Kincaid

Savage Beauty; Nancy Milford

The Black Notebooks; Toi Derricotte

The Things They Carried; Tim O’Brien

Candyfreak; Steve Almond

In Cold Blood; Truman Capote

Stoner; John Williams

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Michael Chabon

Brothers and Keepers; John Edgar Wideman

Leaving Cheyenne; Larry McMurtry

Seeds from a Birch Tree; Clark Strand

The Florist’s Daughter; Patricia Hampl

(here shows up Night, by Elie Wiesel….such a good read…I wish a student hadn’t taken my copy, but maybe they loved it so?)

Reflections in a Golden Eye; Carson McCullers

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrrow We Will be Killed wiht Our Families; Philip Gourevitch

New Yorker articles by Philip Gourevitch: “Letter from Rwanda,” July 11/18, 2001 & “Reporter at Large: The Life After,” May 4, 2009


Fugitive Pieces; Anne Michaels

Patrimony; Philip Roth

Push; Sapphire

The Triggering Town; Richard Hugo

Black Livingstone; Pagan Kennedy

Giovanni’s Room; James Baldwin

Home Before Dark; Susan Cheever

John Cheever Short Stories: “Goodbye, My Brother” & “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill” & “The Enormous Radio” & “The Swimmer”

Ceremony; Leslie Marmon Silko

Crooked Cucumber; David Chadwick

The Great Gatsby; F. Scott Fitzgerald

When the Emperor Was Divine; Julie Otsuka

A Gesture of Life; Change-Rae Lee

On Chesil Beach; Ian McEwan

Wide Sargasso Sea; Jean Rhys

Cheri, and The Last of Cheri; Colette

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Rebecca Skloot

The Last Survivor; Timothy W. Ryback

Things Falls Apart; Chinua Achebe


Ex Libris; Anne Fadiman

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing; Ted Conover

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Anne Fadiman

Waiting; Ha Jin

A Place to Stand; Jimmy Santiago Baca

Bones of the Master; George Crane

The Language of Baklava; Diana Abu-Jaber

Walking with the Wind; John Lewis

Departures; Paul Zweig

Heat; Bill Buford

Red Azalea; Anchee Min

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Junot Diaz

The Situation and the Story; Vivian Gornick

A Personal Matter; Kenzaburo Oe

Just Kids; Patti Smith

King Leopold’s Ghost; Adam Hochschild

The Old Man and the Sea; Ernest Hemingway

Bearing Witness; Bernie Glassman

Contemporary Creative Nonfiction; I & Eye, an anthology; Bich Minh Nguyen and Porter Shreve

Tortilla Curtain; T.C. Boyle

Seabiscuit; Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken; Laura Hillenbrand

Then, a luscious master list….I am finding it meditative to simply write down a life long list of reading….It is distracting my mind from depression in a healing way….

Death Comes to the Archbishop; Willa Cather

(The House on Mango Street….HATED it as a 9th grader…I wonder why?)

Breath, Eyes, Memory; Edwidge Danticat

The Paperboy; Pete Dexter

Chronicles; Bob Dylan

A Lesson Before Dying; Ernest J. Gaines

The Honey Thief; Elizabeth Graver

Praying for Sheetrock; Melissa Faye Greene

Dharma, Color, and Culture; Hilda Gutierrez Baldoquin

Being Peace; Thich Nhat Hanh

Death in the Afternoon; Ernest Hemingway

31 Letters and 13 Dreams: Poems; Richard Hugo

A Child Out of Alcatraz; Tara Ison

Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate; Wendy Johnson

Survival in Aushwitch; Primo Levi

Edge of Taos Desert; Mabel Dodge Luhan

West with the Night; Beryl Markham

Under the Tuscan Sun; Frances Mayes

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe; Carson McCullers

The Last Picture Show; Larry McMurtry

So Long, See You Tomorrow; William Maxwell

House Made of Dawn; N. Scott Momaday

Becoming a Man and Borrowed Time, both by Paul Monette

Running in the Family; Michael Ondaatje

The Word of This Moment; Toni Packer

Close Range: Wyoming Stories; Annie Proulx

Hunger of Memory; Richard Rodriguez

The Human Stain; Philip Roth

Street Zen; David Schneider

The Delicacy and Strength of Lace; Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright

Crossing to Safety; Wallace Stegner

Subtle Sound; Maurine Stuart

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind; Shunryu Suzuki

Seven Japanese Tales; Junichiro Tanizaki

At Hell’s Gate; Claude Anshin Thomas

The Farm on the River of Emeralds and Living Poor, both by Moritz Thomsen

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism; Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

My Own Country; Abraham Verghese

Whew! That took me some time! I look forward to crossing these off across time. I have asked the universe for guidance, and some has been shown to me.

I am currently reading Natalie’s The True Secret of Writing, in which she prompts readers to consider an opening to a story. The opening I realized today is when my class of 6th graders gave me the opportunity to try out restorative justice for the first time — when I discovered they had all entered the class. It was powerful and humbling. Next time…a good thing to write about….


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