And other reading pleasures

Sally Allen

Sally Allen
Connecticut, USA
December 31
Human Female
Why yes, I'd love some.
In my life, I have won an inheritance and lost it. I have travelled through time and to the other side of the world. I have solved murders, experienced storybook romances, and discovered alternate universes. Which is to say: In my life, I have read. Academic tomes and romance novels, murder mysteries and classic literary fiction. Newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and lots of product labels (but rarely user manuals). Along the way, I earned a PhD and drank a lot of coffee.

AUGUST 29, 2012 11:33AM

What "Wild" Taught Me About Suffering


This is my happy place. I took the photo about three years ago from the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel in Athens. 

This week in my reading, I came across a magically incisive definition of suffering. Suffering, Chery Strayed writes in “Wild: Lost and Found on the PacificRead full post »

AUGUST 7, 2012 6:39PM

The Transformational Power of Story

 Cheryl Strayed

Here is Cheryl Strayed at the Wilton Library in Conn. holding one of her two current New York Times bestsellers 

Think back to a time you sought advice from someone you trusted. What was it you were really after? Was it to be told what to do, or was it/Read full post »

Charles Dickens 

During the month of July, I re-read “Great Expectations,” a novel I initially read in graduate school but couldn’t fully appreciate because I was also reading a dozen other Important Books at the same time. I got the inspiration and support to re-read it because of theRead full post »

Ann Patchett 

Here is Ann Patchett dazzling the audience at the Wilton Library in May. 

When I was teaching writing to undergraduates, I wanted my students to understand grammar not just as a series of rules—correct or incorrect—but as a communicative tool, the artist’s materiaRead full post »

Gone Girl Book Jacket 

Maybe you’ve heard this? Newspapers and magazines have done away with the “traditional” book review. So goes the lament. At the same time, the book blogosphere is incredibly robust (just TRY to stay on top of all the latest, most interesting sites—I dare you!). BRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 23, 2012 2:56PM

The Real American Heiresses of "Downton Abbey"

Book Jacket 

Despite that little disagreement known as the American Revolution, citizens of our republic have been possessed of a long-standing fascination with British royals. In 1860, less than 80 years after the U.S. cast off the shackles of the British crown, throngs of admirers lined the streetRead full post »

Sigh. This is brilliant. Just don't watch it with your mouth full. I did and ended up spitting a mouthful of frosted flakes all over my computer. Very messy.
I'm inept at embedding videos, but you can see the magnificent bit of filmmaking by clicking on this link:… Read full post »

I discovered a few weeks ago, and it has quickly risen to the top of my "oh, I need to check this real quick instead of writing that thing I need to get done 2 hours ago" list. In fact, I have two stories to finish right now, and I'm procrastinating to write/Read full post »


If you haven’t read “The Hunger Games,” the first novel in Suzanne Collins’ young adult dystopian trilogy, and know nothing about it, first let me say: congratulations! I’m impressed (and a little jealous) in the same way I would be if you told me you&rsqu… Read full post »


In some ways, the setting aside of one day a year to celebrate something—World Pi Day, World Grilled Cheese Day, World Poetry Day—can be said to have gotten somewhat out of handRead full post »



With Sunday morning at 2:20 a.m. marking the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, the doomed ocean liner seems to be everywhere, a giant, ship-shaped shadow looming over our collective conscience. Just about everyone, it seems, has something to say about the vessel wRead full post »


Photo Source: Elizabeth Degi 

Visiting my favorite book nerd websites sometimes has the adverse affect of consuming me with anxiety. What does me in is posts with titles like “7 Must Read Books Coming Out in April” or “Books to Watch for this Fall” or… Read full post »

 When I took a Jane Austen seminar in graduate school, I remember the professor saying, “Reading a Jane Austen novel is like a listening to a Mozart symphony. You know where you're going to end up. The fun is in getting there.”

The same could be said ofRead full post »

FEBRUARY 17, 2012 7:12PM

Haruki Murakami's "1Q84"


If someone you love has ever left your world, you're likely familiar with the way their absence can evoke their presence, casting a persistent shadow over the things you once shared.

Maybe she wore Viva La Juicy perfume, and you made fun of the gaudy bottle with its hotRead full post »

FEBRUARY 14, 2012 11:34AM

Love Notes: The Precipice of Love

 The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Why love? Though any day is a good day to ask this question, it feels particularly salient on Valentine's Day, the one we've set aside to acknowledge that and who we love. In thisRead full post »

JANUARY 23, 2012 5:16PM

Movie Review: Hugo


So many things get in the way of our ability to connect with each other—ambition or notions of success, lines on maps of the world, political affiliations, even sports rivalries. But if we allow ourselves an extended pause, we might notice one thing that unites us despite our diff… Read full post »

JANUARY 13, 2012 4:40PM

Embrace Mystery

Jane Mendelsohn

Why do readers go to book talks? Often, it's so we can satisfy our curiosity about the story behind the book. We want to know how a nascent idea evolved into a polished whole. Perhaps we're also searching for directionfrom the author, for definitive answers to unresolved questions. We want… Read full post »


These books are on my bookshelf, though curiously not in the story below. Never mind. They're also great reads. 

Besides kicking it with my family and friends, my second favorite way to spend my free time is reading, so finding a quality book group is the ultimate pleasure--a way tRead full post »

DECEMBER 8, 2011 10:29PM

Classic Holiday Reads

Recommending books is tricky. Know matter how well you know someone, you can’t exactly be sure of what they will or won’t like. One Christmas, knowing I appreciate history, my mother got me a book called “In the Wake of the Plague” … as in the Bubonic Plague … thRead full post »

NOVEMBER 30, 2011 3:20PM

What's so important about reading?

One way to donate books 


When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.

This quote has been attributed to 16th Century Dutch Humanist Erasmus, best known for “In Praise of Folly,” which—fun fact—was dedicated to his buddy Sir. Thoma/Read full post »

NOVEMBER 8, 2011 8:01PM

Review: The End of Everything


For a while now, I’ve been saying that intuition is not wisdom’s mystical visitation. Intuition, I’ve been thinking, is not a premonition or otherwise equivalent to extra sensory perception. It’s more like extra linguistic perception. When I feel something on a sRead full post »

NOVEMBER 2, 2011 6:58PM

Review: Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway


One of the questions most frequently posed to fiction writers may well be, “Did this really happen?”

Admittedly, the above claim is not the result of a statistically significant survey. It’s what my friend Stephanie K. Hopkins, who is a fiction writer, told me she and/Read full post »

OCTOBER 31, 2011 2:03PM

Halloween Reads to Get You in the Mood

I opened my front door on Saturday to this incongruous sight:

 Snow already?

And that was before it started to accumulate. 

Pumpkins and snow do not put me in a Halloween spirit. The unexpected combination does, however, make me cranky. I’ve barely come to terms with the factRead full post »

OCTOBER 24, 2011 12:40PM

Haruki Murakami's IQ84 Almost Here

 Credit: Google Images

The English translation of Haruki Murakami’s IQ84 finally hits U.S. bookstores tomorrow. Originally published in three volumes between 2009 and 2010 in Murakami's native Japan, the novel sold out on its first day and reached one million sales within its first/Read full post »

OCTOBER 21, 2011 9:22PM

Review: All-of-a-Kind Family


Credit: Google Images 

Sydney Taylor’s beloved All-of-a-Kind-Family children’s book series was spawned by five little worlds no doubt familiar to parents and children,

“When I was your age…”

According to the Association of Jewish Libraries’ AlRead full post »