Stuff We Like :: 1.19.18

We got snow! That makes twice this winter, and I loved having an excuse to snuggle up in our pajamas for a bonus vacation day right after the start of the new semester. (I also stressed intensely about whether I need to schedule a make-up day for my first AP English class of the semester, but I got to wear my pajamas all day, so I think the balance worked out in my favor.)


around the web

I love the idea of the antilibrary—instead of feeling guilty about the books we buy and don’t actually get around to reading (I’m looking at you, The Corrections), we should see them as reminder of all the things we don’t know, all the things we still have the opportunity to learn. I’m not sure this will convince Jason that I need another bookcase in the bedroom, but you know I am going to try.

If you need a laugh this week, you need to read these examples of toxic femininity in the workplace: “Members of the all-female upper management of a company never think to talk about sex in the workplace. As a result, they forget that sex exists and uniformly fail to perpetuate the human race. This is a global phenomenon that accelerates the demise of our species.”

It’s not a short read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this piece about the seismic shifts happening in U.S. pop culture right now. With shout-outs to everything from Moonlight to Get Out to Ellen Willis, it’s a fascinating look at how the present political climate is shaping art—and a timely reminder of why critics matter.

There are SO MANY TERRIBLE history books out there right now, and if you have accidentally bought one when it was cheap for the Kindle, you will definitely want to read this.


at home/school/life

on the blog: Suzanne’s starting fresh with Library Chicken for 2018

also on the blog: Beverly has some great advice for keeping the holiday spirit alive in your homeschool all year

one year ago: A funny fantasy book list, or what to read when you’ve run out of Edward Eager

two years ago: A Mary Tudor reading list

three years ago: The importance of me-time for homeschool moms


reading list

I picked up a copy of The Knockoff by Plum Sykes because I will pretty much read any book about people working at glossy women’s magazines, and I loved the idea of this one, about an older editor-in-chief who must suddenly cope with the digital magazine world. (I may identify with this premise a little.) It was a bummer, though — the main character wasn’t that sympathetic, and her foil, the up-and-coming digital guru was so utterly unlikable and ridiculously villainous that it just got silly. I’m glad it was a quick read because life is too short, you know?

A much better read was Cloud and Wallfish, which has been on my list for a while and which we’re finally getting around to. It’s set in Berlin in the late 1980s, before the Wall came down, and Noah’s parents have given him a new name, a new birthday, and a new bedroom—in Berlin. Luckily, he also finds a new friend, Claudia, who lives in the same apartment building and who suspects that her parents’ deaths might have been invented by her grandmother. Claudia and Noah (now called Jonah) create their own secret world by covering maps of Berlin with their own drawings—these parts may remind you of Bridge to Terebithia, with the increasing pull of imaginary worlds. We really enjoyed this. It’s the best kind of middle grades historical fiction with a story and characters that feel genuinely compelling and tons of historical information. (I feel like I learned so much about the history of Berlin reading this.)

Also read: The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton, a love letter to Chicago that tries to borrow some of the puzzle-solving charm of books like The Mysterious Benedict Society and Book Scavenger with mixed success. (If you enjoy those kinds of books — or if you love Chicago — it’s definitely worth putting on your list.)


at home

My son got an iPod for Hanukkah (not from me), which he mainly uses to make YouTube videos and send me dog memes all day. I’m ambivalent about devices for kids—I don’t love how addictive they are, but they can be so incredibly useful—but I do really love when my phone beeps and there’s a pug pun.

If you’re following along with the Classical humanities class I’m teaching at Jason’s hybrid high school, we’re kicking off the spring semester reading list with Antigone, Nicomachean Ethics, and SPQR.