Burnout: how to break a reading slump

I’m guessing I’m not alone in that my reading life ebbs and flows. I can go through long periods during which I barely read at all. In fact, I’m kind of in a reading slump right now.

I’m currently listening to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It’s really fun — it’s an urban fairy tale set in London “above and below” about a girl named Door and a bumbling, “normal” person named Richard. Gaiman narrates it himself and the whole listening experience is quite enjoyable. I have, however, only really listened to it before bed, and I find myself falling asleep every night without even finishing a chapter (even if it isn’t — I promise! — boring).

I am currently not reading a book in print even though I have a million books on my TBR pile.

It’s no big deal to go through a reading dry spell. There are reasons, however, to break a reading slump. For one, I find that I watch more TV/stare at my phone much more often when I don’t have a book I’m excited about reading. I also find myself more restless when I don’t have a go-to past time that is relaxing, satisfying, and mentally stimulating.  And because I really do love books, I miss having a reading habit. With this in mind, I do find myself actively working to break my reading slumps when they’ve been going on for a while.

Here’s how I do it.

1) Aim low(er)

A tried-and-true way to break a reading slump is to pick a book that takes less effort to enjoy. For me, this means picking up maybe a YA/middle grade book or a genre novel (like fantasy or romance). Basically, I choose anything I can get through quickly. Finishing a book is often all it takes to get me back into the habit.

2) Make a reading date

Another way I jumpstart my reading life is to put aside some time to read without interruption. I find it most satisfying when reading is an immersive experience and, conversely, it is incredibly unsatisfying to plod through a novel a few pages at a time. It takes time — not just a couple of pages — to get into a story. Imagine how frustrating it would be to watch a movie 15 minutes at a time. (For this reason, I have mixed feelings about teaching class novels a few chapters at a time.) Giving myself an afternoon or evening with no goal except to read is a great way to get hooked on a book — and the reading habit — again.

3) Switch forms

While I certainly count listening to audiobooks as “real” reading, to me, reading a print book and listening to an audiobook doesn’t feel the same. Although not often, sometimes when I find myself hitting a dreaded reader’s block, I switch mediums (media?). If i’m reading a book, I give myself a break and pick up the audio version instead and vice versa. I read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running this way — first in book form, then, when I stalled, I finished it via audio.

4) Get hooked

Contrary to tip #1, sometimes the best way to get over a reading slump is not to aim low, but rather to open a literary can of worms. It’s easy to find yourself not reading simply because you don’t know what to read next. An easy solution is to get hooked on a series.

5) Remember that reading is a habit

Reading, like all habits, takes effort and regularity. Several years ago, I actually felt unable to read. I had gotten into the habit of scrolling, skimming, and watching and found it almost impossible to concentrate on a page of text. I stumbled upon an article about how our culture of phone-scrolling and bite-sized information has actually rewired our brains. I realized then that it would take a real effort to wire my brain back. I did this by carrying a book around and choosing to pull the book out during free moments instead of my phone. It took a few weeks but it absolutely worked. Sometimes when I’m in a reading slump, I find myself having to retrain my brain again. It means making the decision to persist with reading even when I am tempted to stare at my phone instead.

I’m curious — does your reading life ebb and flow? What do you do when you find yourself out of the habit of reading?

readingKate LS Comment
This fresh morning
Collared Finchbill. Photo credit:  Paul Shaffner

Collared Finchbill. Photo credit: Paul Shaffner

I count myself along the myriad who fell in love with Mary Oliver in recent years. Her poetry is a buoy when I feel overcome by the dark storms of living.

In her memory:

“Invitation” by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

life, readingKate LSComment
Guest post: Anna-Mazing book recommendations for the kids in your life
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My mom asked me to write a guest post on some books other kids might like. Here are some recommendations for parents who are looking for reading material for their kids. The way I’m going to do this is I’ll first list a book that you probably have read or heard of first, and then I’ll put my similar recommendation next.

Little WomenThe Penderwicks series

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) and The Penderwicks (Jeanne Birdsall) are both about families of sisters, who (despite the fact that they often have disagreements) love each other a lot.

Harry Potter Keeper of the Lost Cities

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) and Keeper of the Lost Cities (Shannon Messenger) are both about kids who find out at an early age that pretty much everything they know about the world is wrong. They’re both a 7-book fantasy series (for Keeper of the Lost Cities it’s currently a 7-book series) about kids who have to struggle and fight their way to find the truth.

The Boxcar ChildrenThe Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner) and The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg) are both about self-dependent kids who accidentally run into a mystery, and they’re both very fun.

Nancy Drew - The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency

Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene) and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency (Jordan Stratford) are books about mysteries solved by teenage girls. Both series can be a bit scary/creepy at times, so watch out!

WonderOut of My Mind

Wonder (R.J. Palacio) and Out of My Mind (Sharon M. Draper) are both sad and touching books about kids with disabilities that set them apart from others. If you like a bittersweet read that will immediately suck you in, you’ll like (both of) these book(s).

I hope you enjoyed my recommendations! If you want to hear more updates about my recent reads, visit Anna-Mazing Blog!

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Anna is 10 years old and in 5th Grade. She’s a faster reader than her mom. Her first word was “book” in sign language.

Kate LS Comment
Behind the scenes of a podcast
Like how I hung scarves on each side of my workspace so I don’t have shirts and dresses in my face? Also: once again, Mom, Vampire Weekend is a band. :)

Like how I hung scarves on each side of my workspace so I don’t have shirts and dresses in my face? Also: once again, Mom, Vampire Weekend is a band. :)

I posted that fancy picture of me in Room 135, a recording studio at WPSU (where I used to work). I spent HOURS in that studio (sometimes in the middle of the night — creepy because one wall is essentially a window to the lobby). A number of friends asked me if I was renting studio space for my podcast project and I laughed out loud.

Nope. I am recording my podcast in my closet.

I’m not new to recording in strange locations — I remember once throwing a heavy comforter over my head and crouching on the floor to record voiceovers for a news story. In fact, after much trial and error, I discovered the best location for recording at our old house was in the garage, sitting in the passenger seat of our parked car.

While I do have solid equipment from my reporter days (albeit equipment best for field recording), one thing I love about podcasts is how low the barrier to entry is. If you have a laptop, a microphone, and a little bit of money for hosting the actual podcasts on a server, you can make a podcast.

In fact, my daughter recorded a couple of episodes a few years ago and she’s now working on a new episode completely on her own.

Here’s what I’ve done to prep for my podcast.

  1. Solidify my idea.
    I knew I wanted to focus on reading and books because it’s what I know and love. I also wanted to pick a topic that would build upon and even enhance my day job (teaching HS English). What I needed to determine was what exactly I wanted to talk about.

    When I started outlining the first episode, it was crazy how quickly things came to me. I think I sketched out the first episode in about 15 minutes. I think it’s because I’ve actually been thinking about this idea for a really long time.

  2. Come up with a name
    This has actually been really hard and I’m not 100% confident about my decision yet. I wanted to come up with a book-related name, something instantly identifiable that sets the tone for my content (the adjectives I’m going for: thoughtful, snappy, quirky, deep). My first idea was “Franny Glass,” after my favorite literary character. Doesn’t she epitomize those descriptors? But Franny Glass has a bit of a musty feel and I have no idea how many people have read J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

    Suggestions from others: “The Shaffnerd” (ha!), Ye Olde Book Podcast (Paul’s go-to suggestion for anything is “Ye Olde”), Kitabu (book in Swahili), and A Novel Idea. Also “Flipping Pages” and, my favorite, The Book Rapport (you know, like The Colbert Report? Anyone?)

    My friend Cindy suggested sticking with what I have — either Sounds and Bites, a domain I’ve owned for years, or KLSreads, my hashtag and Instagram account for books.

    At this point, I’m leaning towards following Cindy’s advice and sticking with Sounds and Bites. Mostly because I JUST renewed my domain.

  3. Set up my equipment
    I dug out my old Marantz PMD661, my Electro-Voice RE-50 Mic, and reregistered my audio editing program on my laptop. I found the quietest room in our house — our closet — and cleared the top of my dresser to make a workspace.

  4. Record

    Then came the actual recording, which was fun AND painful. I went through my outline several times and threw away a couple of takes before landing on a mostly solid recording.

  5. Edit

    Editing is super fun but also very tedious. It’s also really tempting to go overboard — it was all I could do NOT to edit out all my weird breathing noises. (SO GROSS.) Listening to a recording of yourself is a uniquely painful experience. I had no idea I started every other sentence with “So…” and I didn’t realize how prone I am to upspeak (ugh!).

    I was happy to realize my fingers remember the keyboard shortcuts for the editing program, though, even after almost 4 years.

  6. Listen and edit again

    This is what I did when I worked on radio stories before, too: I exported the audio “draft” as an .mp3 and then sent it to my phone. Then I listened to the whole thing a couple of times through, jotting notes about what didn’t work and what I needed to change (for example: I listed fish sauce as an ingredient for a vegan dish. SMH). I also sent the mp3 to two “beta listeners,” Paul and my little bro, and begged them for constructive feedback. As is always true, their feedback pretty much canceled each other’s out. :) (Want to be a beta listener? Let me know!)

  7. Record changes/additions

    This is the perhaps the hardest part and I’m not done yet. It can be hard to match your own voice quality and tone. It’s also hard to know when to make changes to improve the piece and when to just let it be. I also found my voice is pretty much shot today — I’m just so tired of talking. I’m going to save this job for tomorrow and give the first “draft” another listen tonight.

Now that I’m writing all the steps out, it’s actually a pretty big job for a little podcast! It’s exponentially easier than video production, however, and it’s FUN.

My goal is to polish-off Episode 1 tomorrow and record Episodes 2 and 3 this week. Paul’s working on the podcast logo design. I plan to launch by the end of the month!

How I remember what I read

In short, I often don’t, which is why I made it a goal last summer to find ways to make things stick. It seems like a lost opportunity to spend so much time reading without actually retaining what I read!

I listened to a bunch of podcasts and read a couple of books last summer about how to improve long-term memory. Here’s what I learned (much of which I’ve shared with my students):

  • Take the time to jot down notes while your memory is fresh.

    I know it sounds tedious to take notes on a book you’re reading for fun, but it really helps. Writing things down commits things to your memory not just because of the physical act of writing, but because it takes brain power to recall what’s important and figure out how you want to phrase it.
    This doesn’t have to be complicated. I have my students write chapter titles and summaries when we do novel studies. This document functions as a handy index/cheat-sheet when it comes to reviewing materials at the end of the unit. But when I am reading for pleasure, I will often just write a few bullet points on my Notes app. I write down character names, major plot points, symbols/motifs, and themes when I read novels, and simple lists of ideas when I read non-fiction.

  • While typing is better than nothing, hand-written notes are the best

    That’s what research says!

  • Talk with someone about the book.

    This is helpful even if the other person hasn’t read the book. Get in the habit of talking about what you’re reading with fellow book-loving friends. The simple verbalizing of what the book is about/why you like the book will help solidify ideas in your memory.

    If you CAN find a friend who has read the book, discuss away! As an AP English Lit teacher, it’s so, so clear to me that understanding often comes after the reading. It takes time to really process ideas and understand what is going on under the surface.

  • Read reviews after you’ve finished the book

    Much like I IMDB every movie I watch, I Google pretty much everything I read. I love reading other people’s takes on books I both love and dislike.

  • Keep a list of books read and review the list once in a while

    I have MUCH better recall of what I’ve read in the years I’ve kept track of books. The other years are like black holes.

readingKate LS Comments
Coming soon! (Or: Why does this blog look so different?)
Not my new studio (sadly). This is a photo from when I worked in radio.

Not my new studio (sadly). This is a photo from when I worked in radio.

I’ve been feeling a little restless lately. While I love my current job, I miss feeling a sense of completion, of creativity, of risk-taking.

Long angst-ridden, soul-searching story short, I’m starting a new project! I’m going to combine the best parts of my job (reading, analyzing, and discussing amazing books with wonderful people), my primary hobby (reading and listening to books!), my material weakness (buying books), and the things I loved about my old job (production, script-writing, researching, interviewing) and create a book blog/podcast, in which I will write and talk about everything related to books and reading.

I have quite a road ahead of me, but I’m super excited to get started!

life, podcastKate LSComment
Some questions (and answers) about my reading habits

I posted my roundup of my 2018 favorites on Facebook and was surprised by the influx of questions not about the books, per se, but about my reading life. I thought I'd post a few of them here because I love hearing other people's thoughts on this!

Q. How ever do you find the time to read?

A. Three things that have dramatically ramped up my reading life: 1) I bring something to read (or listen to) everywhere I go. That way if I have time to kill, I can read instead of just staring at my phone. 2) I don’t watch much TV (sometimes I wish that wasn’t true). 3) I listen to audiobooks. It allows me to “read” when I am doing mindless tasks like washing dishes, getting groceries, or even surfing the Internet.

That said, my reading habits ebb and flow. I tend to read many more books during the summer and winter, fewer during spring and fall (probably because these seasons coincide with the beginning and end of the school year!)

Also, a confession: I don't have many other hobbies and I sometimes sacrifice sleep to read.

Q. How do you decide what to read first?

A. I put books on hold at the library (ebooks and audiobooks) and read them as they come in. I also just read what I’m in the mood for.

Q. How do you decide what you listen to vs read on paper? Does it depend what you have time for?

A. Often it’s just what’s available at the library first or what I stumble upon at the bookstore. Occasionally I will specifically choose a format (I loved the idea or listening to Michelle Obama reading her own book) but often it’s just a matter of practicality. I also find I blitz through audiobooks faster because I can listen while multitasking or listen as I fall asleep at night.

Q. Do you use an app to listen to audiobooks?

A. I use the Libby and Hoopla apps (they're specifically library apps) + the Audible app.

Q. Do you have a hopeful reading list for this year?

A. Not officially, but I do have these titles on hold at the library:

These are in my physical TBR pile:

And I preordered this one, written by my friend:

Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means I’ll earn a tiny fee if someone makes a purchase using an affiliate link from this site. You can bet anything earned will go straight to the purchase of another book! Thanks for your support!

readingKate LSComment
2019 Goals

I feel less introspective and inspired this New Year than I usually do and haven’t picked a word of the year, probably because January snuck up on me and also because the end of the school semester was pretty hectic.

To be completely honest, I’m a little burnt out.

You’d think focusing on a single word would be the most doable, least intimidating kind of resolution, but I think in some ways one-word resolutions are more overwhelming because they’re so all-encompassing and hard to measure.

This idea seems more manageable this year.

In 2019, I’d like

exercise (a walk every morning or evening?)
sleep (go to bed by 10:30)
vegetables and home cooking (by first reading inspiring cookbooks!*)
learning (engagement in what I’m doing, whether that be reading, PL, grading, talking with friends/colleagues)

angst about grading papers/work
processed food
complaining (and zero gossiping!)
caffeine (even if this makes me want to cry)

That said, I stumbled upon this quote and it’s convincing me to focus on the MORE rather than the LESS:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
— Socrates

*I asked for hobby suggestions on Instagram because I realized pretty much all I do in my free time is read and look at pretty things on the internet. My favorite came from L, who suggested reading beautiful cookbooks as a hobby. I love the idea of not actually aspiring to cooking amazing meals but committing to being inspired. That sounds like something I can manage!

lifeKate LSComment
Books I enjoyed the most in 2018

This year’s book round-up is longer than usual simply because I read more books. This is largely because I discovered audiobooks this summer. I’ve differentiated between books I read (T) and books I listened to (A).

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In no particular order:

  1. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (T)

    This is my favorite Kingsolver since The Poisonwood Bible. The story alternates between that of a present day middle-aged woman dealing with the lie that’s the American Dream and that of a 1870s naturalist facing a growing disillusionment towards Transcendentalist ideals. Kingsolver draws clever parallels between the two worlds in what essentially becomes a critique of modern day America.

  2. This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (A)

    This reminded me of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder in that this is a story that cultivates empathy. I particularly love the portrayal of the parents’ marriage. It was refreshing to read about a functional, loving family in the midst of a very real and very difficult challenge.

  3. Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win by Jo Piazza (T)

    I expected this to be a light, quick read, but it proved to be thought-provoking and even a little dark. It’s about a tech exec who decides to run for office. I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming a few months after this and was struck by the similarity in the portrayals of the necessary sacrifices of ambition one spouse has to make for the other.

  4. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (T)

    I read the majority of this novel thinking it was a memoir; that’s how true-to-life it felt. I very much enjoyed this insider’s look at the restaurant industry. This would make a good pairing with Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton (<—an actual memoir which I also recommend).

  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (A)

    This has been on my TBR list for ages and I’m so glad I finally read (listened to) it. It’s an astounding work. It’s the kind of book that makes you dizzy, wondering how in the world the author managed to craft such distinct voices. This book jumps from narrator to narrator. Very compelling and vivid.

  6. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (T)

    I loved this. It’s a diary account of a year in which the narrator goes home to be with her father, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Its spareness belies the craft in the writing. I was bowled over by the simple beauty of this book. While very different in tone, it reminded me of Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton.

  7. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (T)

    I really didn’t want to read this (An account of a privileged white male who is down on his luck? Yuck.) when I first heard it had won the Pulitzer, but I read it anyway because I tend to love Pulitzer winners. It blew me out of the water. This book is a delightful account of a struggling writer’s attempts to make do with what he thinks is a failed life. The novel is wonderfully ironic; as you follow the protagonist’s misadventures, you are slowly overcome with the realization of how beautiful life really is. I loved this book!

  8. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (T)

    Speaking of books that astound — this book blew my mind. It’s a non-linear account of Lincoln’s mourning over his young son’s death. It takes on various narrators’ perspectives, often in verse. It’s the kind of book that forces you to trust the author to bring everything together. Saunders succeeds with a bang. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous book that made me really think about the transience of life and the heaviness of the pain we bear as humans.

  9. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (T)

    This read to me like a contemporary version of Beloved, both in the magic realism and the beauty of the writing and message. I predict this will find its way to high school reading lists before long.

  10. The Power by Naomi Alderman (T)

    The Power imagines a world in which women suddenly find themselves physically stronger than men. The ramifications of this newfound power is deep, wide, and provocative — I could NOT stop thinking about this book and what it reveals about our world. This would be a great choice to read with a friend (or a book club?) — so much to discuss.

  11. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (T)

    This book, similarly to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, lays out a world in which real-life circumstances are made vivid and perhaps more comprehensible through magic realism. Hamid makes it easy to imagine yourself in a war zone, having to make decisions about how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

  12. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (T/A)

    I put off reading this for most of the year. The premise — a newly-married man is wrongly accused of rape and is sent to prison — made me dread reading it. I finally borrowed the audio version and WOW. I’m so glad I did. This book is difficult (as I imagined it would be), but the characters’ voices are so real and beautiful. It’s well worth the read, perhaps ranking in the top five books I’ve read all year.

  13. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (A)

    This is a retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus, told in Patroclus’s voice. The way Miller gets into Patroclus’s head is magic. I couldn’t put it down even as the story careened towards tragedy. When I read books like this, I come up for air only long enough to marvel at the author’s genius.


  1. King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild (A)

    On one hand, this account of King Leopold of Belgium’s Kurtz-like actions in the Congo Free State is horrific and devastating in its portrayal of just how evil and self-serving humans can be. On the other hand, it is inspiring and convicting to be reminded that sometimes the dedication of a single person can bring about change. This is a must-read, a necessary reminder of what we are capable of.

  2. The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our "Correct" Beliefs by Peter Enns (A)

    This was like water to my soul, affirming many of my struggles in reconciling myself with the faith of my childhood and the less sure-footed, more honest faith that I have now.

  3. Tell Me More: the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan (A)

    I mistakenly picked this up thinking it was a memoir by an NPR reporter (I think I just made this assumption based on the fact that there’s an NPR show called Tell Me More). It is, instead, a series of essays. Corrigan is a couple of steps ahead of me in life, with older kids and experience with the struggles I know are around the corner. I know I’ll want to pick this up again. It’s a book that rings so true, it’s both challenging and reassuring.

  4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, (T/A)

    Funny story: I decided I wanted to start running this year, so I promptly bought a book about running by one of my favorite authors. (You can guess how effective that was!) This is basically an ongoing journal of Murakami’s thoughts on his running life. It is inspiring, but to be honest, it inspired me to write more than to run. :)

  5. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown (A)

    I love what Brown has to say about belonging, although I have to admit months later, her exact wisdom is blurry. I particularly wish I wrote down the line that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a throwaway comment about why we shouldn’t let guilt about the world’s pain stop us from experiencing our own joy. Suffice it to say, it spoke directly to me.

  6. A Fighting Chance by Warren, Elizabeth (A)

    I read a string of political biographies and autobiographies this summer, but this stood out to me. It’s so easy to be cynical about politics (believe me, there are times I want to quit teaching government because I just can’t stand thinking about politics anymore), so it was refreshing to read about Warren’s own apolitical background and her passionate desire to use politics to dismantle a flawed system that stacks the deck in favor of already-rich corporations.

  7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by King, Stephen (T)

    I’ve long seen this book at the top of book recommendation lists and it actually lived up to the hype! I love narratives about the writerly life. This one is chock-full of both entertaining stories and wisdom.

  8. Becoming by Michelle Obama (A)

    Speaking of living up to the hype… wow. This knocked me off my feet. I loved this. Michelle Obama writes with such an honesty about her upbringing, her ambitions, her marriage, her sacrifices, her view of motherhood… She captures the acute tension of holding on to her identity as a successful, ambitious feminist even as she made sacrifice upon sacrifice for the man she loves. I particularly recommend the audiobook, which she narrates herself.

  9. Educated by Tara Westover (A)

    My takeaway from this book: truth is stranger than fiction, and humans are resilient and courageous beyond understanding.

Notable rereads:

  1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (T)

    This is my third year teaching Huck Finn and I went from practically hating it to loving it. Twain is a genius in his satire and his ability to weave the most profound truths about humanity into what’s ostensibly a children’s adventure story. I’ve read it five times in the past three years and it only gets better.

  2. Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl (A)

    Two words: Dan Stevens. As in, if you’ve read these before, go ahead and listen to the audiobooks narrated by Dan Stevens. You’re in for a treat.

  3. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (T)

    I first read this the summer before my senior year of high school. I remember knowing it was special, but it wasn’t until I read it as an adult that I grasped the poetry, the tragedy, and the beauty Paton packs into such a slim volume. Highly recommend.

Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means I’ll earn a tiny fee if someone makes a purchase using an affiliate link from this site. You can bet anything earned will go straight to the purchase of another book! Thanks for your support!