Recent ‘grown-up’ reads had me embarking on a variety of genres, and a range of topics that includes the mourning ritual of a Jamaican family, the episodic life of a black slave, young kids who can’t behave and oh yes, the remarkable poetry of POTUS (Don’t ask!).



I often enjoy reading scripts of plays that I’ve seen. Was lucky enough to make a trip to London, England to see some wonderful theatre and very munch enjoyed seeing these three plays and reading them in play script format.

NINE NIGHT by Natasha Gordon

Nine Night is a ritual tradition where Jamaican families mourn for nine nights. In this play, the passing of Gloria brings her children and grandchildren together for parties, stories and hidden revelations.  The dialect is somewhat more challenging to read than to listen to, but universal themes of faith, squabbles and connectedness come through strongly in this play, the first play by a black woman to be produced in the West End.

THE INHERITANCE by Matthew Lopez

I so loved this play about the lives and loves of gay men across generations in the past three decades. The beauty of Stephen Daldry’s inspired direction and the impact of the staggering acting does not of course come through   on the printed page but Matthew Lopez’s words reveal stark conversations and  powerful stories. Inspired by E. M Forster’s novel Howard’s End (on my reading pile).


I went to see this play because of the playwright (The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Pillowman, Hangman) and it starred the fine actor Jim Broadbent and it tells a story (a peculiar, wild story)of Hans Christian Anderson who, according to McDonagh sheltered a one-legged black Pygmy woman  in his attack in Copenhagen because she, after all, was the composer of  Anderson’s beloved children’s literature. A very dark, very twisted, and yes, very funny tale.




Here are a couple of examples:

I Love to Read

I’ve read John Updike. I’ve read Orhan Pamuk. I’ve read Philip Roth.
I believe a lot of the stories are pure fiction.
They just pull it out of the air.
Gang of liars.

Little Marco: a Haiku

Not presidential
Like a little boy on stage
Very short and lies



TROUBLEMAKERS: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby

Thanks to colleague Cassie Brownlee for recommending this important book that helps educators and parents think abut the oppressive responses we tend to give to problematic student behaviours. By presenting four case studies of young children, the author  considers the essential need for young people to grow as whole free humans.

WEEDS IN BLOOM: Autobiography of an Ordinary Man by Robert Newton Peck

Early in my teaching career Robert Newton Peck was one of my favourite authors (A Day No Pigs Would Die, The Soup Series).  I hunted this book down on Amazon and received a used copy of this author’s fine memoir about the life and fascinating folks he remembered growing up on a Vermont farm, and later experiences when he moved to Florida. The twenty six chapters provide a tribute to those who may go unnoticed, unheard.  I wish I could write like Robert Newton Peck.




Washington Black’s life is first introduced to us when he was an eleven year old slave on a Barbados sugar plantation. When ‘Wash’ is selected to become the manservant to explorer and inventor Christopher Wilde (brother to the plantation master), Black’s journey through life takes him on  hot-air balloon, a ship captained by a hunter, the Underground Railroad, the Arctic, the aquariums of London and the deserts of Morocco. Edugyan’s narrative is cinematic, telling the story of the brilliant, resourceful  Washington Black forever contemplating loyalty, power and a place for freedom. ‘Epic’, ‘gripping’,  ‘enthralling’ and ‘exhilarating’ are words that have been used to describe this Giller Prize winning novel. For the most part, I would agree with the praise (a bit ‘too’ epic for my tastes).

NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne can’t live with each othe and can’t live without each other. Very different in personalities, these two characters really seem to understand each other and we are witness to their on-again off-again relationship from later years in high school, through university and beyond. A novel about the desire to love and be loved, Normal People has been declared ‘book of the year’ according to Waterstone’s bookseller, so naturally I bought it. A good read, but not the ‘book of the year’ for Larry.