Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (35)
* Partial year
Hall of Small Mammals: Stories by Thomas Pierce
[Finished 25 May 2016] I’d read one of these stories previously, in The Missouri Review if I recall correctly. That was the least impressive of the lot. My favorite, “Videos of People Falling Down” was not published previously. There’s some brilliant handling of unfolding plot in these stories (“Ba Babboon” would make a good case study for a creative writing class, I think).

The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
[Finished 20 May 2016] See my review at

My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote your Child’s Language Development by Kimberly Scanlon
[Finished 19 May 2016] Some useful information, although the bulk of the book, the games and activities, could be condensed to about two pages of general principles. I suppose some people might find them helpful though.

The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Alexander
[Finished 10 May 2016] I’ve reached the point where I’m realizing that pretty much every parenting book is saying more or less the same thing. I guess that means either that I’m choosing (or more accurately, my wife is choosing) titles wisely, or I’ve fallen into a self-reinforcing silo of epistemic closure. Fortunately, even if the latter is true, it all seems to be working quite well with my kids.

The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens et al.
[Finished 4 May 2016] After seeing Batman v Superman, I thought I’d take a look at the comic book sequence that was one source for the film. I found Apocalypse, though, to be a completely uninspired and uninteresting creation who existed solely to cause the death Superman. The movie, at least, provided a better mechanism for the mutual death of monster and man of steel, which was sadly lacking here.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
[Finished 3 May 2016] I really enjoyed Flournoy’s use of POV in this piece. While some of the narrative threads don’t fully pay off, the writing is sharp and captivating on its own.

The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages by David K. Harrison
[Finished 30 April 2016] See my review at

History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom
[Finished 25 April 2016] See my review at

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
[Finished 23 April 2016] I have a vague recollection of reading this in elementary school, returning it to an adult, there are the occasional familiar points in the story, but also some unfamiliar aspects as well. It’s fascinating to see how, in some ways, the lives of the families in the back house were often rather mundane (aside from being essentially trapped inside for several years). Overall, the book had more to say about the psychology of Anne Frank than it did about the holocaust, but is still valuable for that as an object lesson in just how human the victims of the Nazis were.

The War by Marguerite Duras
[Finished 19 April 2016] A collection of diary, memoir and fiction about the end of World War II. Duras does a great job of describing the day to day lives of people making the change from being the resistance to being citizens of the restored republic and all the moral challenges that underpin that transformation.