1.25.2013

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1.23.2013

Reading life review

Number of books read in 2013: 9

Life after Death (Damien Echols; 2012. 416 pages. Non-fiction.Two decades ago, in West Memphis, Arkansas, three second-grade boys were murdered; their mutilated bodies were found on the bank of a watery ditch. About a month after the gruesome discovery, three local teens were arrested. The murders were determined to be part of a satanic ritual in which they had allegedly participated.

Anyone with a little legal knowledge (or a sometimes diet of "Law & Order") knows that an accused person is entitled to acquittal if, in the minds of the jury, his guilt has not been proved beyond a "reasonable doubt" — that is, if the jury lacks an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge. That the jury in the trial of Jesse Misskelly and the trial of Damien Wayne Echols and Jason Baldwin did not doubt is both baffling and profoundly disturbing.

Arguably the most recognizable face of the so-called "West Memphis 3," Damien Echols received a death sentence for his crime. In Life after Death -- part memoir, part stream-of-consciousness, part self-indulgence, part horror story, part existential tract -- he describes his childhood, the days leading up to his arrest, his imprisonment, his relationship with his wife, his eventual release from prison, and life since that time. Although the writing is, at best, uneven, the narrative is compelling enough to remain through most tiresome bits.

My interest in the West Memphis 3 developed after seeing the documentaries Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. (Yes, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is on my TBW (to be watched) pile, and Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Mara Leveritt) has been loaded onto the Kindle.)

Reviews of Echols' memoir can be found here and here.

p. 49
My mother denied later that they treated me like this. She has a very convenient way of forgetting and rearranging the past to fit whatever view she currently wishes to promote, much like the history changers in George Orwell's 1984. She now knows very little about me, but makes up stories so as to seem closer to me that she truly is. It gains her more attention.
p. 60
I'm now at a point in my life where I look back on both of them [his parents] with mingled feeling of love, disgust, affection, resentment, and sometimes hatred. There's too much betrayal to ever be completely forgiven. I am not like my mother, who may argue with you one day and go back to life as usual the next. The best I can do is say that their good deeds may have softened the blow of the bad ones.
Daddy Love (Joyce Carol Oates; 2013. 240 pages. Fiction.) The jacket copy appears to "give it all away": Chester Cash abducts five-year-old Robbie Whitcomb and runs the boy's mother down with his van as he flees the scene, leaving her for dead. But this is JCO; the jacket copy has given us nothing. Like Zombie, Daddy Love features a particularly depraved character committing horrifying acts of physical and emotional brutality, and the underlying message is neither hopeful nor life-affirming. Still, there is much to admire here, particularly the first five chapters, which narrate a pivotal sequence of events over and over, with increasing urgency (and blame? insight? remorse?), an exercise both frustrating and mesmerizing. And the conclusion haunts: "Hi, Mom."

Reviews of this novel can be found here and here.

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors (Ann Rule; 2012. 544 pages. Non-fiction.) The casebook opens with two novella-length investigative reports: the disappearance of Susan Powell in 2009 and the deaths of billionaire Jonah Shacknai's son and girlfriend in 2011. Seven other cases are given chapter-length explorations.

Don't Turn Around (Michelle Gagnon; 2012. 320 pages. Fiction.) Oh, how I wanted to love and recommend this novel. As addictive as movie theater popcorn, it went down in mindless fistfuls until I reached the bottom of the bag and wondered why I was so unsatisfied. Billed as "a teen soul mate to Lisbeth Salander," the protagonist awakens on a gurney with a healing incision on her chest and no memory of an illness or accident that would have required surgery. A sixteen-year-old hacker and victim of the foster care system, Noa flees the makeshift hospital and performs computer wizardry. And flees and performs computer wizardry. For the rest of the novel. At the 35 percent completed mark on the Kindle, the point of all of the flight and hacking remains stubbornly vague. More, the hacking descriptions are poorly executed. (See Cory Doctorow's Little Brother for an excellent example of taut computer-related suspense.) The character development is weak, the plot devices contrived.

But someone likes it: In a Beast interview, Gagnon reveals that Don't Turn Around is the first of a trilogy.

Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare (1599); Folger ed. 2003. 288 pages. Drama.) How does the play weather a fourth reading? Excellently. It was wasted on my teenaged self, but it was a revelation when I taught it to my son in 2003 and again when I brought it to my daughters in 2009. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater will stage the play beginning next month, so in preparation, the Misses and I decided to revisit it. Still relevant. Still memorable. Still amazing.

Act I, scene ii
Would he were fatter! But I fear him not:
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock'd himself and scorn'd his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.
I rather tell thee what is to be fear'd
Than what I fear; for always I am Caesar.
Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truly what thou think'st of him.
Act IV, scene iii
“All this”? Ay, more. Fret till your proud heart break.
Go show your slaves how choleric you are
And make your bondmen tremble. Must I budge?
Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch
Under your testy humor? By the gods,
You shall digest the venom of your spleen,
Though it do split you. For from this day forth,
I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.
La Bohème: Black Dog Opera Library (2005. 144 pages. Libretto, history, and commentary.) To prepare for the Lyric Opera of Chicago's staging of La Bohème, the Misses and I read this entry in the Black Dog Opera Library collection. Each book in the series features a history and summary of the opera and the complete libretto in both the original language and English, as well as recording of the opera with accompanying commentary.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Susannah Cahalan; 2012. 288 pages. Non-fiction.) This is the most frightening book I've read since Howard Dully's My Lobotomy. You'll find an excerpt at Scientific American and reviews here and here.

p. 43
We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it.
The 13 Clocks (James Thurber (1950); 2008. 136 pages. Fiction.) In his lectures for the Teaching Company, Peter Saccio says of Iago that he, like "cold, agressive Duke" of  Thurber's blend of fairy tale and parable, may be bad for no other reason than that is simply who and how he is.

p. 114
"We all have flaws," he [the Duke] said, "and mine is being wicked."

The reference sent the Misses and I in search of the source late last summer, but as sometimes happens, the book ended up in a TBR stack. When I came upon it this morning, however, I remembered precisely why it was there. And then I came across this:

p.  93
"I do not trust him," growled the Duke. "I like a spy that I can see. Let me have men about me that are visible."
Oh, how I love synchronicity / serendipity / synthesis! From Julius Caesar, Act I, scene ii:
Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Saga, Vol. 1 (Brian K. Vaughan; 2012. 160 pages. Graphic fiction.)
The conclusion of Sweet Tooth (sad, fitting, if a bit predictable) left a graphic fiction gap for me to fill. Saga was recommended by the elves behind that big online retailer's website. Given how much I adored Vaughan's Y: The Last Man and appreciated his Ex Machina, it's unsurprising how engrossing I found his latest effort.


1.20.2013

An "old" woman. Reading.

My fervent hope was that my hair would be at least this long by May.

(It's the little things, isn't it? Well, it always has been.)

Then I saw this image. (Sorry for the blur. Mr. M-mv is many good things, but photographer -- or even "focuser" -- is not one of them.)

May is out of the question, obviously. We're looking at August. At least. Maybe even October. Sigh. Grow, hair! Grow!

Anyway. Is it just me, or does the image to the left (which is -- GASP! -- six years old (!)) bear a faint resemblance to this one?

Yes, Rembrandt's An Old Woman Reading (1655).

You see, the new title was really just a neat bit of synchronicity / serendipity / synthesis:

1. I've been jokingly calling myself "old woman" -- or "'old' woman" -- since I turned, oh, forty, and now that I am on the cusp of fifty, well, it seems practically fitting.

2. Over the winter break, we saw Rembrandt's Portrait of the Artist (ca. 1665) at the Milwaukee Museum of Art (which hosted "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London through January 13). This led us to revisit some of our materials on the artist, which, in turn, led to my (re)discovery of  An Old Woman Reading (1655).

3. Earlier this month, I went in search of an image to show my new stylist: This! This is the goal! And I found the image in this post.

4. Last week, as I cast about for new ideas for this place on the web, I came across a drawing I did for one of our art classes a few years ago: An old woman. The old woman in the sidebar, in fact.

In my head, it all made sense.

(What made the most sense, of course, was simply shutting down after I had downloaded a copy of nearly ten years' worth of thoughts and images. But I couldn't. quite. do. it. Not yet.)

Hence, An Old Woman Reading.

1.19.2013

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1.18.2013

Shakespeare for all ages and stages

The following material was first published on 9.30.2006.
_________________________________

A few years ago, L. wrote to ask for advice about teaching her children Shakespeare. "I will be learning right alongside my children. In your opinion, what is the best way to do this?"

I've answered this question before, several times, on home education message boards. But I was also able to find a version of my answer in the email archives: Several years ago, MDH wrote, "I have a ten-year-old daughter. [...] Do you have any recommendations for the first work for her to read?"

My reply (reworked for inclusion here) offered recommendations and briefly described our approach.

The best way to do this
One thing I've pounded home, here and elsewhere, is that the introduction to Shakespeare should be as much like Shakespeare's intended experience as possible -- that is, his plays were meant to be seen and heard, not read. (I heartily disagree with our dear Mr. Bloom on this point, by the way. And that's okay.)

In keeping with the idea of meeting Shakespeare on his own terms, then, a live performance is generally superior to a film. The Misses M-mv met the bard in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V ("O Kate! Nice customs curtsey to great kings"), but they fell in love with him (yes, at six and eight) during a Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. A rappin' Puck. A show-stealing Bottom. The grace and wonder of that stage. The fact that the actors met the audience in the lobby. They became hooked -- for life.

But if a live performance isn't possible...

Or if you think your students are not quite ready for the experience...

Branagh's Henry V is a terrific place to which to begin because, well, quite simply, it's easy to follow and exceptionally well done. The plot is uncomplicated, so one can focus on the language, which is exquisite. At the gates of Harfleur, most of us experience (or have already experienced) an "Ah-ha!" moment of the most wondrous sort: I get this! This is amazing! What's next? Shakespeare is great!


Other film intro possibilities
Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is an adequate introduction. A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring Kevin Kline isn't bad. As an introduction, though, Much Ado about Nothing is better, in my humble opinion. Again, the Branagh production. A mild caution: There is the briefest of nudity in the opening sequence and sexuality is openly (though discreetly, if that's possible) expressed during the scenes in which Claudio is duped into thinking Hero is impure. And speaking of caution, mild or otherwise: The battle violence in Branagh's Henry V may be unsuitable for some young people. You know your child better than I do.

My son's first film adaptation was actually Julius Caesar, with Jason Robbards as Brutus. He adored it. Our experience became the stuff of an article I sold, but this play probably isn't the best way to begin for most people. Besides, my son was already hooked: The year before he had attended a CST production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (a different production than the Misses).

Another possibility would be Twelfth Night, with the incomparable Ben Kingsley as Feste.

Now, then.

When the children were young, we would, prior to watching a live or filmed performance, read aloud from an abridgment (e.g., Charles and Mary Lamb, E. Nesbitt, Beverly Birch, Bruce Coville, Adam McKeown -- the latter two being particular favorites here). That gave us the basic plot and, often, the key subplots. As far as I'm concerned, this method works well for adults, too. There is no reason why someone late to the table should miss this meal. I would add only that older students and adults will likely appreciate a more detailed synopsis of the play prior to watching, this in addition to an engaging retelling/abridgment. We heartily recommend Shakespeare A to Z; The Essential Reference to His Plays, His Poems, His Life and Times, and More.

Then we watch -- sometimes more than one performance, often more than once.

And then we read the unabridged play to the accompaniment of a quality audio production. Oh, how well we respond to the language when our reading is aided by the audio!

Naxos, Caedmon, and Arkangel are all quality sources for audio productions. Now, despite my unabashed lust for The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare, our absolute favorite audio productions are Naxos (King Lear, King Richard III, and The Tempest), Caedmon (Twelfth Night), and BBC Radio Presents (Hamlet). Check with your librarian to see what you can borrow before making an audio purchase. In fact, your library may also have many of the film adaptations I've recommended.

So -- retelling, watching, reading while listening. As often as you need and/or like.

Why our English teachers did this in reverse order remains a mystery, no?


Other ideas for teaching Shakespeare
Use their toys.
The Misses M-mv were onto something when their Ken nodded to Barbie and assured her that nice customs curtsey to great kings. Using Barbies or Little Ponies or puppets or whatever to illustrate plot twists or illuminate intent... well, that's just child-like genius at work. Harness it to help your young viewers understand the intricacies of A Midsummer Night's Dream or the intrigue of Hamlet.

Keep a chapbook.
My students and I keep chapbooks devoted to our Shakespeare studies. We copy passages that "speak" to us and share our entries. How fascinating to see what someone else deems worthy of preservation.

Learn the language, naturally.

Family M-mv memorizes wide swaths of Shakespeare through repeated viewings and readings (i.e., "listenings"). Obviously, too, the nature of a family-centered learning project (as opposed to a more conventional learning environment) allows for many, many everyday conversations that are colored by bardolatry. Well, what we use, we own. It's really that simple.

And, as I've written before, Shakespeare need not be hard at all, Fintan.


"It just isn't important in today's society."
L. wrote, "Also, why do you think it is important to read Shakespeare? I have been told by a few folks (homeschoolers!) that it just isn't important in today's society. I disagree, but can't really articulate why. My 'gut instinct' just isn't enough of a reason."

Well, actually, "gut instinct" may be plenty of reason, but I can see why one might think this an inadequate response in conversation. As I wrote to L., though, I honestly don't know what to say to folks who could, in seriousness, maintain that Shakespeare -- the inventor of the human -- is unimportant. Nothing I said, however well articulated or carefully stated, would deter them from that (misinformed) position. And, as I grow older, I find that I'm less and less inclined to fight against such ignorance. A bemused sigh and furrowed brow might be all you can offer when confronted with -- well, I typed such fools but realized that some of you might find that too harsh and dismissive, so I'll go with people who hold that view.

Heh, heh, heh.


Summary
1. The introduction to Shakespeare should be as much like Shakespeare's intended experience as possible -- that is, his plays were meant to be seen and heard, not read.

2. A live performance is generally superior to a film, but if that is not possible or practical, a quality film will work.

3. To prepare for a live or filmed performance, read an abridgment.

4. Then watch -- more than once, if practical; more than one production, if possible.

5. After that, read the unabridged play to the accompaniment of a quality audio production.

6. Read abridgment. Watch production. Read while listening to audio accompaniment.Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Read. Think. Learn. Discuss.

7. Other ideas include using toys to simplify plots, keeping a chapbook, and natural memorization through regular use of the language.

8. This method works well for adults, too. There is no reason why someone late to the table should miss this meal.


Bibliography
It's incomplete, but the following list represents books titles that have been helpful in my own studies. These are the books to turn to -- after the abridgment and the performance and the reading/listening. (The ol' M-mv mantra: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.) I've boldfaced those I keep close.

Asimov, Isaac. Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare (Volumes One and Two).
Barton, John. Playing Shakespeare: An Actor’s Guide.
Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.Boyce, Charles. Shakespeare A to Z; The Essential Reference to His Plays, His Poems, His Life and Times, and More.
Brown, Ivor. Shakespeare.
Burgess, Anthony. Shakespeare.
Carter, Avis Murton. One Day in Shakespeare’s England.
Chrisp, Peter. Welcome to the Globe! The Story of Shakespeare’s Theater.
Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era.
Epstein, Norrie. The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard.
Fallon, Robert Thomas. A Theatergoer’s Guide to Shakespeare.
Garber, Marjorie. Shakespeare, After All.
Goddard, Harold C. The Meaning of Shakespeare (Volumes One and Two).
Gollub, Herman. Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard.
Green, John and Paul Negri. Great Scenes from Shakespeare’s Plays.
Greer, Germaine. Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction.
Kermode, Frank. Shakespeare’s Language.
Kott, Jan. Shakespeare Our Contemporary.
Lomonico, Michael. The Shakespeare Book of Lists.
Morley, Jacqueline. Shakespeare’s Theater (part of the Inside Story series).
Norwich, John Julius. Shakespeare’s Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337–1485.
O’Dell, Leslie. Shakespearean Language: A Guide for Actors and Students.
— . Shakespearean Characterization: A Guide for Actors and Students.
O’Toole, Fintan. Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life.
** Saccio, Peter. Shakespeare’s English Kings; History, Chronicle, and Drama.
Silverbush, Rhona and Sami Plotkin. Speak the Speech! Shakespeare’s Monologues Illuminated.
Smith, Bob. Hamlet’s Dresser.
Stanley, Diane, and Peter Vennema. Bard of Avalon: The Story of William Shakespeare.
Van Doren, Mark. Shakespeare.
** We also recommend The Teaching Company's courses Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, taught by Saccio. Skip the DVDs; opt for the CDs. Unlike Shakespeare, Saccio is meant to be heard, not seen. Heh, heh, heh.

Perhaps you're wondering why.

And the answer is simple: Because I felt like it.

This is the rest stop between what came before and simply bowing out of the entire enterprise. Let's see what happens. It will be primarily about the books now, with a bit about the music, museums, art, theater, movies, etc. for good measure.

1.11.2013

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1.01.2013

Winter break

Destinations
■ Starved Rock State Park (entry)
■ Milwaukee Art Museum (entry)
■ Milwaukee County Zoo (entry)

Movies
Life of Pi (theater) Technically, the Misses and I saw this in the week before our winter break began, but I think our hearts may already have been on vacation. All three of us recommend this beautiful film. (And, yes, all of us have read -- and adored -- the book.)
The Princess Bride (DVD): Quite simply, it doesn't hold up.
It's a Wonderful Life (DVD): And neither does this. How is it a happy ending that George has friends? Might not he have had friends had he been permitted to pursue any one of his dreams? All around him, people live, learn, grow, achieve, avoid painful consequences, etc. in no small part because of their relationship with George. They are permitted their dreams, but he is not. And it is a wonderful life because he was fortunate enough to be an actor in theirs? Bah, humbug.
Moonrise Kingdom (DVD): Brilliant, quirky, original.
Les Miserables (theater): Better than we had hoped. In the eighties, Mr. M-mv and I saw the play twice on Broadway and once in Philadelphia. We recently took the Misses to see the twenty-fifth anniversary production playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. Going into the movie, we were, at best, cautiously optimistic, but we left giving it four enthusiastic thumbs up.
Terror of Frankenstein (DVD) An adaptation that is quite faithful to the intent and spirit of Shelley's novel. Recommended.
The Hobbit (theater) Another movie we attended with cautious optimism -- and loved. 

Pursuits
■ Swim practice
■ Music practice (piano, guitar, violin) and lessons (piano and guitar)
■ Quirkle Cubes

Books
Mr. M-mv
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe; fiction)
Bonsai: 101 Essential Tips (Harry Tomlinson; non-fiction)

Mrs. M-mv
Life after Death (Damien Echols; non-fiction)
National Geographic Birdwatcher's Bible (Jonathan Alderfer; non-fiction)
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (Elizabeth Stuckey-French; fiction)

Miss M-mv(i)
■  Rin Tin Tin (Susan Orleans; non-fiction)
Animals in Translation (Temple Grandin; non-fiction)
Animals Make Us Human (Temple Grandin; non-fiction)

Miss M-mv(ii)
Trouble (Gary Schmidt; YA fiction)
Astrophysics Is Easy! (Michael Inglis; non-fiction)
Why There's Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste (Simon Quellen Field; non-fiction)

The year of reading slowly

Completed:

Cyrano de Bergerac (Edmond Rostand (1898); Bantam ed. 1950. 240 pages. Drama.)
King Lear (William Shakespeare (1605); Folger ed. 2005. 384 pages. Drama.)
The Returned (Jason Mott; 2013. 352. pages. Fiction.)
Lowboy (John Wray; 2009. 272. pages. Fiction.)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (William Shakespeare (1597?); Folger ed. 2004. 320 pages. Drama.)
The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir (Katrina Kenison; 2009. 320. pages. Non-fiction.) 
The Amateurs (Marcus Sakey; 2009. 400. pages. Fiction.)
 Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines (Richard A. Muller; 2009. 384. pages. Non-fiction.)
Letters to a Young Scientist (Edward O. Wilson; 2013. 256 pages. Non-fiction.)
Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong (Joyce Carol Oates; 2013. 224 pages. Fiction.)
Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell (1936); Anniversary ed. 2011. 960 pages. Fiction.) *
A Short History of the United States: From the Arrival of Native American Tribes to the Obama Presidency (Robert V. Remini; 2009. 416 pages. Non-fiction.)
Othello (William Shakespeare (1603); Folger ed. 2003. 368 pages. Drama.) *
Hamlet (William Shakespeare (1603); Folger ed. 2003. 342 pages. Drama.) *
A Long Way from Chicago (Richard Peck; 1998. 192 pages. Fiction.) *
The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty; 2013. 416 pages. Fiction.)
Kiss Me First (Lottie Moggach; 2013. 320 pages. Fiction.)
■ The Silent Wife (A.S.A. Harrison; 2013. 336 pages. Fiction.)
■ The Comedy of Errors (William Shakespeare (1594); Folger ed. 2004. 272. pages. Drama.) *
■ The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka (1915); Bantam ed. 1972. 201 pages. Fiction.) *
The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult; 2013. 480 pages. Fiction.)
Kill Shakespeare: Volume 2 (Conor McCreery; 2011. 148 pages. Graphic fiction.)
■ The Dinner (Herman Koch; 2013. 304 pages. Fiction.)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler; 2013. 320 pages. Fiction.)
Macbeth (William Shakespeare (1606); Folger ed. 2003. 272 pages. Drama.) *
Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family (David Berg; 2013. 272 pages. Non-fiction.)
NOS4A2 (Joe Hill; 2013. 704 pages. Fiction.)
Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard (Linda Bates; 2013. 304 pages. Non-fiction.)
Cast of Shadows (Kevin Guilfoile; 2006. 319 pages. Fiction.)
Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer Maria Rilke; ed. 1986. 128 pages. Non-fiction.) *
Much Ado about Nothing (William Shakespeare (1599); Folger ed. 2003. 246 pages. Drama.) *
Animal Man, Vol. 2 (Jeff Lemire; 2012. 176 pages. Graphic fiction.)
So Much for That (Lionel Shriver; 2011. 480 pages. Fiction.)
Life Itself (Roger Ebert; 2011. 448 pages. Memoir.)
Saga, Vol. 2 (Brian Vaughn; 2013. 144 pages. Graphic fiction.)
Animal Man, Vol. 1 (Jeff Lemire; 2012. 144 pages. Graphic fiction.)
Very Good, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse; ed. 2006. 304 pages. Fiction.
The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey; 2013. 480 pages. Fiction.)
Richard III (William Shakespeare (1592); Folger ed. 2005. 352 pages. Drama.) *
Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked (James Lansdun; 2013. 224 pages. Non-fiction.)
Harvest (A.J. Lieberman; 2013. 128 pages. Graphic fiction.)
The Guilty One (Lisa Ballantyne; 2013. 480 pages. Fiction.)
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You (Joyce Carol Oates; 2013. 288 pages. Fiction.)
Dare Me (Megan Abott; 2012. 304 pages. Fiction.)
The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life (Robin Stern; 2007. 288 pages. Non-fiction.)
Henry VIII (William Shakespeare (1613); Folger ed. 2007. 352 pages. Drama.)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald; 1925/1980. 182 pages. Fiction.) *
Attachments (Rainbow Rowell; 2011. 336 pages. Fiction.)
Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight; 2013. 400 pages. Fiction.)
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers (Margaret George; 1998. 960 pages. Fiction.)
Picasso and Chicago: 100 Years, 100 Works (Stephanie D'Alessandro; 2013. 112 pages. Non-fiction.)
Measure for Measure (William Shakespeare (1603); Folger ed. 2005. 288 pages. Drama.
Wave (Sonali Deraniyagala; 2013. 240 pages. Memoir.)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death (Jean-Dominique Bauby; 1998. 131 pages. Autobiography.)
The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating-Heart Cadavers (Dick Teresi; 2012. 368 pages. Non-fiction.
Human .4 (Mike A. Lancaster; 2011. 240 pages. YA fiction.)
Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion; 2011. 256 pages. Fiction.)
The Underwater Welder (Jeff Lemire; 2012. 224 pages. Graphic fiction.
After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story (Michael Hainey; 2013. 320 pages. Non-fiction.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick; 1968. 256 pages. Fiction.)  *
Accelerated (Bronwen Hruska; 2012. 288 pages. Fiction.)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger; 1951. 288 pages. Fiction.) *
Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes; 1966. 324 pages. Fiction.)  *
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Jamie Ford; 2009. 301 pages. Fiction.)
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie; 2002. 104 pages. Fiction.)
Revival, Vol. 1 (Tim Seeley; 2012. 128 pages. Graphic fiction.)
Saga, Vol. 1 (Brian K. Vaughan; 2012. 160 pages. Graphic fiction.)
La Bohème: Black Dog Opera Library (2005. 144 pages. Libretto, history, and commentary.)
The 13 Clocks (James Thurber (1950); 2008. 136 pages. Fiction.)
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Susannah Cahalan; 2012. 288 pages. Non-fiction.)
Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare (1599); Folger ed. 2003. 288 pages. Drama.)  *
Don't Turn Around (Michelle Gagnon; 2012. 320 pages. Fiction.)
Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors (Ann Rule; 2012. 544 pages. Non-fiction.)
Daddy Love (Joyce Carol Oates; 2013. 240 pages. Fiction.)
Life after Death (Damien Echols; 2012. 416 pages. Non-fiction.)

* Denotes a reread.