25 books finished in 2016: Scary Close

25 books finished in 2016

So I’m sitting at home discussing relationships with a housemate – specifically how I think every successful relationship is nothing short of a miracle – and she says, “You need to read Scary Close. I want you to read Scary Close. I don’t own it, but I want to buy it RIGHT NOW so I can loan it to you.” I laughed at her and tried to talk her out of such absurdity, but she would NOT be persuaded. Our conversation had to stop so she could run to the local bookstore and purchase the book.

It was only appropriate that I read most of this book in one sitting, the same night she brought it home.

Donald Miller disclaimer: I both enjoy his confessional, relatable writing style AND find his name dropping and self-depreciation to be exhausting. This book, thankfully, lived mostly in the vulnerable, confessional, “let me tell you about this particular failure of mine and the things I have learned on the path toward healthy relationships” realm.

finding that place where
emotionally healthy
relationships live


24 books finished in 2016: The Bluest Eye

24 books finished in 2016

Have you noticed that I am FULLY on Team Toni Morrison at this point? Because I am, and now I can’t get my hands on her books fast enough.

Thank you to the friends who loaned this book to me when I was losing it over the ghost in Beloved, for KNOWING that I would need to read another book of hers IMMEDIATELY.

Another amazingly creepy book right here. Which basically starts with, “Hey sister, remember that summer our flowers didn’t grow and Pecola was pregnant with her daddy’s baby? That was One Crazy Summer.” I love the boldness of that, the confidence that she doesn’t have to build up to a terrifying reveal, that she can tell us FROM THE BEGINNING what horrors we are going to face, and then show us how to have compassion for every single person in the story.

innocence stolen
a broken way of living
all that they can claim

23 books finished in 2016: Beloved

23 books finished in 2016


I’d never read this book, and it felt like a significant education failure. (Even more so when I realized that the story takes place in my home state!)

But the best thing about this book is that, every time I told people I was about to read Beloved, they’d groan in a way that was difficult to interpret. They wouldn’t elaborate, perhaps for fear of spoiling the story? It left me with this fear that the book was going to be really dense, difficult to read, gruelingly sad, or that I’d feel a significant amount of White Guilt while reading.

I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR A GHOST STORY! I was also not prepared to be so thoroughly entertained by this creepy ghost story. Oh my goodness, the tension in this book is palpable, and the direction of the story was so delightfully unexpected. I mean, yes, this is a terribly sad story about HORRIBLE things that actual humans have done to other humans and is an accurate representation of the effects of those horrors, but I LOVED the physical manifestation, the literal physical manifestation of a ghost from the past, and the hope and vulnerability that comes with that hope.

Oh man, this book was so horrific and terrific and hilarious and beautiful and deep and I don’t know if I would have appreciated all of that back in high school but I wish someone had tried to show me how.

compelling story,
pairs these two horrible things:
slavery and ghosts

21 books finished in 2016: Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

21 books finished in 2016

This is one of those books with baggage for me – given by a friend who LOVES it intensely, so I was feeling a lot of pressure to enjoy it. I avoided reading it for that reason, and then when my friend said, recently, that this is STILL one of his favorite books…I picked it up.

I did not enjoy this book. SORRY, FRIEND!

There were some lovely ideas within the book, and I’m sure those are the kernels that my friend pulls out on a regular basis, but the book as a whole felt like it wasn’t fully formed.