By the Book

This post is a direct rip-off of Elizabeth Ellington’s post from today at the Dirigible Plum. In the post she uses the NYT By the Book interview format to interview herself. I love this idea because I love learning about what other people are reading; it is a socially acceptable form of voyeurism.

What books are on your nightstand?

I’m going to be all 21st century and say I have a IRL nightstand and a digital nightstand. I love audiobooks and I easily listen to more books than I physically read. Anyway, on my Kindle I am currently reading Anne Carson Bird by Bird, Second Language Learners in International Schools by Carder, Mertin and Porter, and 10 Minute Plays for Kids of all Ages by Carlene Griffith. In audiobooks I’m listening to Heavy by Kiese Laymon and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Physical books include Thick by Tressie McMillam Cottom, We Got This by Cornelius Minor, Being the Change by Sara AhmedWhat if all the kids are white? by Derman-Sparks and Ramsey, and Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel.

Who is your favorite novelist of all time?

So sad. Look at all the books I’ve listed. They’re all non-fiction! And I love fiction! I don’t know, I’ve read a lot of Thomas Hardy, so I’ll go with Hardy. But this answer changes as I age, so ask me again in 5 years.

What’s the last great book you read?

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo. It is life changing.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

Everything from White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

(This is going to sound super pretentious, but I swear it is true) I love the early work of Naguib Mahfouz. He is an Egyptian Nobel prize winning author and I love, love, love his Cairo Trilogy and Midaq Alley.  The Cairo Trilogy is a bit like 100 Years of Solitude but without the magical realism.

Whose opinion on books do you most trust?

My friend Sherri has turned me on to a ton of books. My husband. The people I follow on Twitter have never steered me wrong.

When do you read?

Thanks to audio books, I read on my way to work, I read while running for the bus, I read in the shower, and I read while riding motorised scooters without a helmet. I don’t like reading in bed – either I get too tired to understand what I’m reading or I get to jazzed by what I’m reading and I stay up late.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

For the most part I don’t like reading teacher education books. I actually find them quite difficult to learn from. We Got This, Being the ChangeWhat if all the kids are white?and Strategies That Work have been the exception.

I don’t like fantasy. I’ll wait for the tv series to come out.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and sociology. I like books of essays. I used to read a lot of romance novels, so when a good one of those comes my way it’s hard to say no.

How do you organize your books?

Well, I would love to organise them like this:

Screenshot 2019-02-24 at 00.50.48.png

But instead they are organised like this:


What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have a couple books about Quaker philosophy, which I think would surprise people.

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?

Is Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar a heroine or an antihero?

Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

The first truly scary book I ever read was The Dollhouse Murders when I was 11 or so. I actually bought it again a couple of years ago and it is hilarious because it would never be in a school library these days. A girl, with the help of her autistic brother, investigates the gruesome murder of a family in the house she’s currently living in through clues brought to her by a haunted dollhouse?  Classic children’s literature. I wish I had kids of my own to share it with.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

David Foster Wallace, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxanne Gay. (I just realised they are all essayists… huh.)

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

Ugh, The Goldfinch was the worst. But I did finish it because I thought I was missing something and I was going to find something redeeming in the last few pages. I did not. Also, Catcher in the Rye is not ANYWHERE NEAR as good at The Bell Jar.  I don’t know why no one else acknowledges that.

The last book I put down without finishing was Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. There are better books of essays to read.

What book do you plan to read next?

I do want to read some fiction and I have Cormack McCarthy’s The Road on my shelf and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh in my audible library. Also, I really need to read more James Baldwin, so Giovanni’s Room too.


13 thoughts on “By the Book

  1. Fiction books don’t stay on my nightstand. I typically read them right away. And I only read fiction e-books. For non-fiction I need time and Post-it notes and a highlighter! My nightstand looks much like yours. I love this way of sharing what you have been reading or what you plan the read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, this format really is the best. There are so many little tidbits in here. I am impressed by all the different ways you read – wish I could convince my learners that these are all legitimate options. I was super-glad to find out that the fancy bookshelves are not yours (we might have had to stop being blog-friends – seriously). And I have also finished a well-regarded book all the way to the end just in case I was missing something. (Jonathan Franzen The Corrections. Ugh.) I wrote down a few of your recommendations – and may I highly recommend The Road as a complex read but starkly beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please never stop being my blog-friend. I will pile books haphazardly for as long as you wish. I never finished The Corrections! So terrible! I’m glad you recommend the Road. I will get to it asap.


  3. You know, I never finished The Goldfinch. I liked the first chunk and then got bored, bored, bored. Obviously I love this format for a blog post! It’s fun to write and fun to read! I had a good laugh over the ideal bookshelf and the reality. We share a lot of the same reading interests. I was just think I want to reread White Fragility. Catcher in the Rye might be my nomination for most overrated book of all time, though I could probably find a lot of books to nominate. But ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the inspiration! I hope you do reread White Fragility. I have a friend at school that I am chatting to about it. I’m glad to see we have similar tastes in books. Let me know if you find any other gems!


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