Books I've Read

I use Goodreads to track my reading because it syncs with my Kindle. The yearly reading challenge is like Book It! for adults. You have to buy your own Pizza Hut now.

Top Reads for 2020 (in chronological order)

  • Open Book by Jessica Simpson-- I am just as surprised about this as you but from 90s celebrity gossip to glittercups this book exemplifies one of my favorite qualities in a human-- the ability to take the world, but not yourself, too seriously.

  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe-- I read this book early in the year but have thought of it frequently since. Even though I knew the story before I started this is a total page turner. The fascinating research ethics case study is lagniappe. As an ultimate compliment I recommended this book to a friend and it ended up in her discerning top 5 too.

  • There, There by Tommy Orange--This novel weaves together the stories of several rich characters in surprising and unexpected ways. I haven't read enough by Native American and Indigenous authors but I am glad I started here.

  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller-- This was a book club choice and I was prepared for it to be bleak and awful. It was in parts but it was also masterfully constructed and surprisingly funny in parts.

  • Beach Read by Emily Henry-- I do read a lot of fluffy rom-com books as a way of shutting my brain down but they rarely make the best-of list. This book was the perfect 2020 antidote and had some really charming witty banter.

Top Reads for 2019 (in chronological order)

  • Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillam Cottom-- I had the pleasure of meeting Tressie when I invited her to give a Scholars Strategy Network workshop a few years ago. I bought this book intending to read it before the visit but picked it up in 2019 as part of a desire to feed my academic administrator brain with general state of higher education books. Unlike books written by journalists (bless their hearts) this book has original data to support its claims. While the for-profit sector has lost some of its shimmer since this was published, it is still worth a read.

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles-- I used to be a proud fiction hater. Isn't the real world interesting enough? This novel was one of the first I read this year and was engrossing. I'm surprised it has not yet been made into a movie.

  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid-- Fleetwood Mac Fan-Fic. Just trust me.

  • No One Tells You This by Glynnis Macnichol-- I probably picked this up because it is about a Canadian who has moved to the United States and is dealing with the death of her mom as she approaches 40. That is on brand. But, there is so much more here including a celebrity blind item.

  • The Life and Death of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan-- I read this after an impromptu road trip from Detroit to OshKosh Wisconsin. I pay attention to the Canadian news about the state of Lake Ontario now and have a much better understanding of both the history and the ecology of something I have always taken for granted.

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney-- a little like a more literary version of Girls but not totally insufferable.

  • Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath-- I tried to read management and business books because I want to do right by the staff who work for me and I'm interested in whether anything from sociology ever makes it to these larger audiences. Most management books are truly awful. Like wordle awful. But, I've kept a lot of the lessons here front of mind. CLEAR THE PATH.

  • The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates-- a remarkable life serving others and a fascinating read. I didn't expect the New Orleans connection.

  • The College Drop Out Scandal by David Kirp-- if you've been leading a campus-wide student retention task force this is probably stuff you know already. If you work on a college campus and don't think about retention and graduation, you need to pick this book up.

  • Convenience Store Woman by Sakaya Murata-- what a delightful and deadpan little novel.