Monthly Archives: December 2022

2022 Reading List!

Once again, I read over twice as many books as I read last year. Most of this happened hurriedly during rare breaks. My absolute favorite was A Lover’s Discourse. As usual, I also read several books for work, but only included the few that were really meaningful or entertaining to me. Mom jeans are back in fashion (or at least I am still embracing them), and so I’ve also been reading and enjoying scholarship from the early 1980s as well. I’ve also included a few children’s books that I thought had literary merit, although I also read well over 2,000 children’s books this year, many of which were repeats.

A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coulthard

The Lais of Marie de France

Tales the Textiles Tell in the Lais of Marie De France: Weaving As a Signifying System by Gloria Thomas Gilmore-Hunt

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Turns of Thought: Teaching Composition as Reflexive Inquiry by Donna Qualley

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

What Remains by Carole Radziwill

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Walking: One Step at a Time by Erling Kagge

The Peaceable Classroom by Mary Rose O’Reilley

Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty by Jacqueline Rose And others…


Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty by Jacqueline Rose

I started reading this book after a friend challenged me to mini book club. I thought it would be an interesting take on motherhood, perhaps essays, although the title calls itself an essay, singular, which reads, in hindsight, as pretentious as it is by no means an essay, and is, at the very least, essaysss. This books is basically theory, with some fairly dense analysis and criticism, but also some accessible hot takes and also slow burning takes mixed in.

The perks of this book are in some of the one liners, which I’ll share below. Her literary knowledge of mothers is vast and deep and fascinating. I found myself wanting to read all of the literary works she mentions, something that would take me years. I always (and will continue to) return to de Beauvoir and Rich.

The drawback of the book is only that it was more academic than I was hoping, something that might be reconciled by a more accurate title. I did not always understand the connection between mothering and immigration, although that connection is made frequently throughout the book. This was especially true for me in the first chapter. I found myself arguing—aren’t immigrant mothers the most sympathetic of all immigrants? This point felt underdeveloped to me throughout the book. Also, I felt that, based on my own experience, the dogged connection between breastfeeding and eroticism was a stretch and over-developed.

Even still, I appreciated the vulnerability and honesty throughout the entire book. It’s really like no other and tells a story of matrescence that is important, but rarely told. For me, motherhood has required me to be an almost entirely different person. Giving up such a huge sense of self is the sacrifice that seems too great and also unnecessary. Nothing could prepare me for how much I would change, would be forced to change in order to survive, and how that change felt inevitable, and necessary, and okay, and part of my life’s path and development, but also, in many ways, a jarring loss.

Overall, if you’re doing scholarship in motherhood, this is a must read. I may even be able to use some gems in my own scholarship, which is often, just adjacent, although I haven’t isolated any yet.

Here are a few lines/questions worth returning to:

“[W]hat are mothers being asked to carry, what forms of failure and injustice are they made accountable for, above all, in the modern Western world?” (37).

(Indeed, I have found the motherhood to be too demanding, asking too much, and unnecessarily so. With a better social network, motherhood could be vastly improved for (most) women.)

“We talk of a mother’s suffocating love. But the one in danger of being smothered by love might not be the infant but, under the weight of such a demand, the mother” (81).

(See above.)

“For several yars she has tried in vain to adapt to his point of view, to her mother-in-law’s exacting standards and ‘to all the unintelligible ritual with which they barricaded themselves against the alarming business of living’” (99).
(I just thought this was a profoundly accurate description of how I perceive some people to be doing life. (I have been wrong in my interpretations of this though.))

“[T]he child’s demands drive the mother to insane perfection; the inconsiderate child underscores the radical neglect of her own life” (187).
(I don’t think it can be helped.)

“‘[H]is implanting himself inside me; unreasonably and totally destroying the me I was’” (206).