Read 150 Books in 2017

Inspired by a friend who read 150 books and did a piece of art for each one, I have made a goal to read more this year.  I love reading and take it upon summer time to dash through at least a book a week, but I want to do this all the time.  Make time, do it!

In order to stay on task, I’ll write them here!  (And maybe if I am super inspired, I’ll make a piece of art for some of them!)

1/150  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald


2/150 Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem

“It was a place made out of leftover chunks of disappointment, unemployment, and regret.

3/150 1984, George Orwell

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

4/150 Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie

“I’ll dance a Ghost Dance. I’ll bring them back. Can you hear the drums? I can hear them, and it’s my grandfather and grandmother singing. Can you hear them?

I dance one step and my sister rises from the ash. I dance another and a buffalo crashes down from the sky onto a log cabin in Nebraska. With every step, an Indian rises. With every step, a buffalo falls.

…My tribe dances behind me. At first they are no bigger than children. Then they begin to grow, larger than me, larger than the trees around us…We dance in circles growing larger and larger until we are dancing on the shore, watching all the ship’s returning to Europe. All the white hands are waving goodbye and we continue to dance, dance until the ship’s fall off the horizon, dance until we are so tall and strong that the sun is nearly jealous. We dance that way.”

5/150 Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba  

“Life is like a book, son. And every book has an end. No matter how much you like that book…You will get to that last page…And it will end. No book is complete without an end. And once you get there…Only when you reach the last words…Will you see how good the book is. It feels real.”

6/150 Remember Me Like This, Bret Anthony Johnston

“So, on the first weekend of September, it was the group of walkers who first saw the body in the bay before anyone else. They didn’t immediately comprehend the sight. The water was ragged and dirty from the previous week’s storm, and the body floated facedown; it looked like a person snorkeling, except an arm and leg were bent at odd, harsh angles. One of the walkers retched and kneeled on the walkway. Another started praying. Another dug in her pocket for her phone. The rest of the group stared and speculated and tried to trick themselves into thinking the person might have survived the fall. No one could tell if it was a male or female, or how old, and none of them thought of Justin Campbell, the boy who’s gone missing years before.” 

7/150 The Color Purple, Alice Walker

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know noting more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.”

8/150 My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem

“”I could see that, because the Gandhians listened, they were listened to. Because they depended on generosity, they created generosity. Because they walked a nonviolent path, they made one seem possible. This was the practical advice they taught me: ‘If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope to change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.”

9/150 Tracks, Louise Erdrich

“The next time she fell in the lake, Fleur Pillager was fifteen years old and no one touched her. She washed on the shore, her skin a full dead gray, but when George Many Women bent to look closer, her saw her chest move. Then her eyes spun open, clear black agate, and she looked at him. ‘You take my place,’ she hissed.

10/150 Birds of America, Lorrie Moore

“I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it’s the body’s reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it’s the heart’s triumph, the victory speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It’s life flipping death the bird. I make this stuff up.”

11/150 Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.”

12/150 Swamplandia, Karen Russell

“Heaven, Kiwi thought, would be the reading room of a great library. But it would be private. Cozy. You wouldn’t have to worry about some squeaky-shoed librarian turning the lights off on you or gauging your literacy by reading the names on your book spines, and there wouldn’t be a single other patron. The whole place would hum with a library’s peace, filtering softly over you like white bars of light…”

13/150 Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark.”

14/150 Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

“When shit brings you down, just say ‘fuck it’, and eat yourself some motherfucking candy”

15/150 Anthem, Ayn Rand

“It was when I read the first of the books I found in my house that I saw the word “I.” And when I understood this word, the book fell from my hands, and I wrote, I who have never known years. I wrote in deliverance and in pity of all mankind…I understood the centuries of chains and lashes will not kill the spirit of man not the sense of truth within him.”

16/150 A Journey North, Adrienne Hall

Read this favorite in honor of Charlie (Unicorn), a dear friend that I met on the Appalachian Trail, who passed away recently

“All those things spinning around down there can make a person dizzy. Sometimes.its hard to distill the meaning of anything when you don’t stop and look around. Our minds become cluttered with extras – with meetings and deadlines, Serbian wars and presidential debates, scandals and shootings, alarm clocks and cell phones, latest fashions and lawsuits. Sometimes it takes a view from a hilltop to get a perspective and clear your mind. Backpacking has a way of reducing life to its most simple rituals, like eating and finding shelter. It strips away the distractions and let’s you find the core of life itself.”

17/150 Fist Stick Knife Gun, Geoffrey Canada

-One the BEST books I have EVER read-

“I was probably four when I first became aware of violence…”

“That this country has finally realized that violence is a national crisis of unparalleled dimensions is important to me. But it is painful to watch the results, so far, of this realization: billions of dollars poured into prison construction, more police, sexy but ineffective programs like boot camps, and lots of talk about our ‘war on crime.’ The problem with these poorly thought-out large scale initiatives is that they sometimes have unexpected consequences that exacerbate the problems instead of helping to solve them. Case in point, one of the last large-scale social ‘wars’ the war on drugs.”

18/150 Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

I could pick dozens of lines to share, as the English major in me in coming out strong, underlining every page, but this one rings so true to my heart. This is from a passage in a letter to his fifteen year old son.

“When the journalist asked me about my body, it was like she was asking me to awaken her from the most gorgeous dream. I have seen that dream all my life. It is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is tree houses and the Cub Scouts. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option, because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies. And knowing this, knowing that the Dream persists by warring with the known world, I was sad for the host, I was sad for all those families, I was sad for my country, but above all, in that moment, I was sad for you.”

19/150 The Sea, John Banville 

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”

20/150 Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde 

“Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

21/150 Go Ask Alice, Anonymous

“Kids who aren’t allowed to make any decisions for themselves never grow up, and kids who have to make all the decisions before they’re ready never grow either.”

22. Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat

“I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head.  Where women return to their children as butterflies or as tears in the eyes of the statues that their daughters pray to.  My mother was as brave as the stars at dawn.  She too was from this place.  My mother was like that woman who could never bleed and then could never stop bleeding, the one who gave in to her pain, to live as a butterfly.  Yes, my mother was like me.”

23/150 Ways of Seeing, John Berger 

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.”

24/150 My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

“I think of Jeremy telling me that I had to be ruthless to be a writer… But really, the ruthless, I think, comes in grabbing onto myself, in saying: This is me, and I will not go where I can’t bear to go – to Amgash, Illinois – and I will not stay in a marriage when I don’t want to, and I will grab myself and hurl onward through life, blind as a bat, but on I go! This is the ruthlessness, I think.”

25/150 Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit

So many many quotes to pull from.  A must-read for those that continue to state that men and women are equal, and/or they are not feminists.

“…Mostly, however, we don’t talk about it – though a graphic has been circulating on the Internet called ‘Ten Top Tips to End Rape,’ the kind of thing young women get often enough, but this one had a subversive twist.  It offered advice like this: ‘Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone ‘ by accident’ you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.’  While funny, the piece points out something terrible: the usual guidelines in such situations put the full burden of prevention on potential victims, treating the violence as a given.”

“We have far more than eight-seven thousand rapes in this country every year, but each of them is invariably portrayed as an isolated incident.  We have dots so close they’re splatters melting into a stain, but hardly anyone connects them, or names that stain… It has to change.  It’s your job to change it, and mine, and ours.”

“Women’s liberation has often been portrayed as a movement intent on encroaching upon or taking power away from men, as though in some dismal zero-sum game, only one gender at a time could be free and powerful.”

26/150 Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami 

“It rained that night.  Not a strong rain, but a typical autumn rain that didn’t show any signs of letting up.  Like a monotonous confession, there was no break, no variation.  He no longer could even recall when it had begun.  The rain brought with it a feeling of cold, damp helplessness. He couldn’t even bring himself to grab an umbrella and go out to dinner somewhere. He would rather go to bed without eating.  The window next to his bed was streaked with water drops, a ceaseless cycle of new drops replacing the old.  Kino sat there, endlessly observing the fine transformation in the patterns on the glass. Beyond these patterns lay the random, dark cityscape. He poured himself some whiskey from a pocket flask, added an equal amount of water, and drank it. He had no ice.  There was a machine down the hall, but he couldn’t even rouse himself to go there.  The warmth of the drink fit his listlessness perfectly.”

27/150 Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson 

“They were all grotesques. All of the men and women the writer had ever known had become grotesques.  The grotesques were not all horrible.  Some were amusing, some almost beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out of shape, hurt the old man with her grotesqueness. When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering. Had you come into the room you might have supposed the man had unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.

For an hour the procession of the grotesques passed before the eyes of the old man, and then, although it was quite painful thing to do, he crept out of bed and began to write. Some one of the grotesques had made a deep impression on his mind and he wanted to write about it.”

28/150 Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficiency Disorder, Richard Louv

“Fear is the most potent force that prevents parents from allowing their children the freedom they themselves enjoyed when they were young.  Fear is the emotion that separates a developing child from the full, essential benefits of nature.  Fear of traffic, of crime, of stranger danger, and of nature itself.

29/150 Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (read with Liam)


“I volunteer!’ I gasp. ‘I volunteer as tribute!”

30/150 March, Geraldine Brooks 

“I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try and do the good of which our hands are capable for all the people who come in our way…”

31/150 Little Women, Louise May Alcott 

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.”

32/150 The Known World, Edward P. Jones

“She went through her memory for the time, for the day, she and and her husband told him all about what he should and should not do. No goin out into them woods without Papa or me knowin about it. No steppin foot out this house without them free papers, not even to go to the well or the privy. Say your prayers every night…Pick the blueberries close to the ground, son. Them the sweetest, I find. If a white man say the trees can talk, can dance, you just say yes right along, that you done seen em do it plenty of times. Don’t look them people in the eye. You see a white woman riding toward you, get way off the road and go stand behind a tree. The uglier the white woman, the farther you go and the broader the tree. But where, in all she taught her son, was it about thou shall own no one, havin been owned once your own self. Don’t go back to Egypt after God done took you outa there.”

33/150 We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates 

“No one would be able to name what happened, not even Marianne Mulvaney to whom it had happened.”

34/150 An Instrument for Leaving, Monika Zobel (book of poetry) 

“I write and write

in my little book

of brick and mortar,


but the house still

lacks a reliable narrator.

I tacked a character


to my lips

to his metaphors —

a rhetorical monster.


There are many

images of sabotage.

35/150 Heartbeats: An Anthology, Edited by Alex Buck 

No cover.

Too long to copy quotes.  Read it in a heartbeat.  I inhaled it.  Heartbreaking, beautiful, sensuous, and exploring all kinds of love, this one is a winner.

36/150 Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller 

“She rises up out of a sea of faces and embraces me, embraces me passionately— a thousand eyes, noses, fingers, legs, bottles, windows, purses, saucers all glaring at us an we in each other’s arm oblivious. I sit down beside her and she talks— a flood of talk. Wild consumptive notes of hysteria, perversion, leprosy. I hear not a word because she is beautiful and I love her and now I am happy and willing to die.”

37/150 Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham 

“There is nothing gustier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman.”

38/150 How to Be a Woman, Caitlyn Moran

“I don’t know if we can talk about ‘waves’ of feminism anymore — by my reckoning the next wave would be the fifth, and I suspect it’s around the fifth wave that you stop referring to individual waves and start to refer, simply, to an incoming tide.”

“There’s a whole generation of people who’ve confused ‘feminism’ with ‘anything to do with women.’ ‘Feminism’ is seen as absolutely interchangeable with ‘modern women’ — on one hand, a cheering reminder of what feminism has done, but on the other, a political, lexical, and grammatical mess.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen feminism – to remind ourselves: the liberation of women – blamed for the following: eating disorders, female depression, rising divorce rates, childhood obesity, male depression, women leaving it too late to conceive, the rise in abortion, female binge drinking, and rises in female crime.  But these are all things that have simply INVOLVED WOMEN and have nothing to do with the political movement ‘feminism.”

39/150 Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich

“I grew up hearing over and over, to the point of tedium, that “hard work” was the secret of success: “Work hard and you’ll get ahead” or “It’s hard work that got us where we are.” No one ever said that you could work hard – harder even than you ever thought possible – and still find yourself sinking ever deeper into poverty and debt.”

40/150 Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine

“Suppose a researcher were to tap you on the shoulder and ask you to write down what, according to cultural lore, males and females are like.  Would you stare at the researcher blankly and exclaim, ‘But what do you mean? Every person is a unique, multifaceted, sometimes even contradictory individual, and with such an astonishing range of personality traits within each sex, and across contexts, social class, age, experience, educational level, sexuality, and ethnicity, it would be pointless and meaningless to attempt to pigeonhole such rich complexity and variability into two crude stereotypes?’ No. You’d pick up your pencil and start writing.  Take a look at the two lists from such a survey, and you will find yourself reading adjectives that would not look out of place in an eighteenth century treatise on the different duties of the two sexes. One list would probably feature communal personality traits such as compassionate, loves children, dependent, interpersonally sensitive, nurturing. These, you will note, are ideal qualifications for someone who wishes to live to serve the needs of others.  On the other character inventory we would see agentic descriptions like leader, aggressive, analytical, competitve, dominant, independent, and individualistic.  These are the perfect traits for bending the world to your command, and earning a wage for it…”

“Stereotypes, as well as attitudes, goals, and identity also appear to exist at an implicit level, and operate ‘without the encumbrances of awareness, intention, and control…”

FASCINATING book.  I recommend this TO EVERYONE.

41/150 Planetwalker, John Francis, PhD

“…the hardest and greatest thing for any human being to do is to accept that which is already within and around him. There is no question in my mind that walking is in me to do.”

43/150 Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger

“He was not in the house. He did not come back that night.  Days went by, and at last she understood that he would not return at all.”

43/150 The Surrendered, Chang-Rae Lee

“Their father had been the first. The last time she saw him he was bleeding from the nose and mouth, from the eyes, kneeling on the ground with his hands tied behind his back, a South Korean army officer standing jauntily above him, pressing the nose of a pistol to his head.  The rest of them, except for her older brother, were in the back of a transport, being driven away with the families of other men who were being rounded up. They weren’t told where they were going.”

44/150 No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July 

“But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us.”

45/150 Swing Time, Zadie Smith 

“No one is more ingenious than the poor, wherever you find them. When you are poor every stage has to be thought through. Wealth is the opposite. With wealth you get to be thoughtless.”

46/150 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (read with Liam) 

“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed; accusing memories of unkindnesses to these poor lost lads were rising up, and unavailing regrets and remorse were being indulged: and best of all, the departed were the talk of the whole town, and the envy of all the boys, as far as this dazzling notoriety was concerned. This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”

47/150 Native Son, Richard Wright

“All my life’s been full of hard trouble. If I wasn’t hungry, I was sick. And if I wasn’t sick, I was in trouble. I ain’t never bothered nobody. I just worked hard every day as long as I can remember. … And now I’m in this. They looking for me and when they catch me they’ll kill me.”

48/150 Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

49/150 Braving the Wilderness, Bréne Brown 

“But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us. When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain.”