fifty-two. (2017)

By no means can this list be comprehensive since I literally got a master’s degree in reading this year, but to avoid listing out various critical theory texts, letters between old dead white dudes over the state of the “colonies”, and Said’s Orientalism 4234 times, I’ve narrowed it down to narrative (for the most part). The best ten I read this year are bolded– highly recommend!

  1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  3. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
  4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Old Habits Die Hard– Also, Baby’s First College Lecture!)
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (sue me, I’m an #intellectual)
  6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  7. Night by Elie Wiesel
  8. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  9. And Then There None by Agatha Christie
  10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  11. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  12. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
  13. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  14. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Old Habits Die Hard pt. II)
  15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  16. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  17. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
  18. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  19. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Baby’s First Faulkner!)
  20. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  21. Ten Nights and a Night by John Barth
  22. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  23. The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  24. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
  26. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  27. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  28. Adam Bede by George Eliot
  29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Old Habits Die Hard Pt. III)
  30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  31. The Wanderings of Oisin by W. B. Yeats
  32. The Winding Stair by W. B. Yeats
  33. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (Baby’s First Book Reports)
  34. The Sceptred Flute by Sarojini Naidu
  35. The Bird of Time by Sarojini Naidu
  36. The Golden Threshold by Sarojini Naidu
  37. Lalla Rookh by Thomas Moore
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Prometheus Unbound by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  40. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
  41. Dubliners by James Joyce
  42. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Old Habits Die Hard Pt. IV)
  43. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  44. Empire Writing: An Anthology by Elleke Boehmer
  45. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  46. Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  47. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
  48. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  49. In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  50. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  51. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  52. Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

ghost exposures; fifty-two; home.

[perennial blog post to let everyone know I am Alive and Well and Overcaffeinated Per Usual!!]

I am about to commit treason to my literary kind: numbers fascinate me. The fact that math is an entire art based on the assumption of rules to be true is endlessly compelling. That you can use symbols that someone assigned meaning in some sort of code to quantify and calculate divisions of your life? Ridiculous. Crazy. Absolute certitude of how many days I have been alive (at the time of writing this, 8599), inches of rain fallen today (in Scotland right now, 3.4 with the conversion from centimeters), number of index cards sitting on my desk (94). And then people take these certitudes and combine them to establish larger averages of certitudes in an insane amount of ways!

How many hairs on my head: 90,000 (brunettes, 140,000; blondes, 110,000)! How many miles I’ll walk in my lifetime: 110,000! How many questions it takes to fall in love: 36! (or so they say, whoever the elusive “they” is.)

But how do we arrive at certitude? By arriving at the same certitude as someone else and deciding we must both be correct. Thus I contend, to any number-lover who tells me that they like math because it is black and white and not the shades of gray that words are, there is no difference. Numbers are like stories; established, tried, tested against time. These rules and theorems that create your number laws come from the same place that words do: the repetition of stories over millennia.

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[mid 17th century: from Italian, from chiaro ‘clear, bright’ (from Latin clarus ) + oscuro‘dark, obscure’ (from Latin obscurus ).]
 1.  the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
 2.  the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)

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on thanks and giving, a thousand times over.

I wake, again, to rain. The gray fingers of sky peer through the fading maroon curtains our landlord left from the previous tenant. I push one aside. The power lines droop lazily between poles like cat’s cradles, the city sheathed in silver. Two men in lungis stand on the slick edge of a rooftop to survey the damage of the floors below. Watching them makes me nervous, so I drop the shade. I tug aside my blanket, flip off the mosquito repellant switch, and pad across the cool marble, trying to psych myself up into going outside. I pull on one of the few remaining clean shirts from my drawer and trace the sweat that has gathered at the nape of my neck; I heard the AC click off at 4am with another power outage, and judging from the status of my phone battery, it never came back on. I sling my purse over my shoulder, slide on chappals, and head downstairs.
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of the great happening illimitably earth.

((Back to school now, but the holidays were good to me. I made sort of a grand harrumphing trip across the subcontinent: first to Delhi, then to Lucknow, then Jaipur, and then all the way to Sri Lanka in about ten days, sari mostly intact. I had some real enchiladas, failed horribly at getting on an elephant, got sunburned again, and overall had an amazing time with incredible people who make my sides hurt from laughing so hard. Pictures will follow at the end of this blog.))

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