Archived Story

The not-so-top 10 reads for a mother of 2

Published 7:00am Sunday, January 12, 2014

Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster

Every now and then people on Facebook like to send the message, “Yes, I’m on Facebook, but don’t mistake me for one of those people on Facebook because I also read books.”

Somebody puts up a list of books and faster than you can say, “I won’t use a Kindle for moral reasons,” a rash of postings appears by Gen Xers with one foot stuck in the musty used bookstores of the 20th century and Millennials who feel like old souls. For a few days we all feel more bookish and less Facebooky.

Function follows form trippingly on the news feeds of thousands, perchance millions, of social networking intelligentsia who think using words like trippingly, perchance, and intelligentsia separate them from the herd.

The form is a list of books one has read in the last year, or lifetime, that have lingered with some significance in the mind. One is not supposed to think about this list too strenuously, rather one’s subconscious is supposed to cough it up like a hairball from a cat falling off a washing machine. Of course hours and weeks, are spent deliberating on these lists.

Do I cut J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher In The Rye” to make room for his more profound, “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction”? Should I include nonfiction to show my range? Perhaps a play or the libretto of a little known Sondheim musical?

The function is proving one’s intellectual merit despite the fact that most days the lion’s share of his or her contribution to the Internet is watching videos of cats falling off washing machines.

Don’t tell anyone, friends, but I love making those lists and for all the reasons I stated above. I am one of those people who dies a little every time I enter Internetland. Inside I’m begging the world, “Please don’t judge me for watching this cat video 15 times when Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ has been stuck on page 64 in my Kindle for the past month.”

Recently, when these lists began floating around again, I leapt at the chance to make myself feel better, I mean, partake in the grand community of idea sharing that is Facebook, by contributing an annotated inventory of the impressive, mind-expanding tomes I’ve lately read. You didn’t think rearing twin toddlers would make me a stranger to fine literature, did you?

They are, in no particular order:

1. “Turn inside out, hand wash in cold water with delicate detergent avoiding trim and appliqué. Line dry.” And with that, I threw it in the washing machine.

2. “Follow these simple steps for eight weeks of resistant gray root coverage.” A tale told by the middle-aged, signifying denial.

3. “AKMWSCI NBQRT” There is such joy in learning a new language. Icelandic in 2014! Nah, those are the magnetic letters on my refrigerator.

4. “I’m off to the potty. No more diapers for me! And I feel great. I am proud of me!” Don’t believe everything you read.

5.“Minus-25 degrees.” Unless you read it on The Weather Channel.

6. “Hyena vs. “Lion.” “Almost everyone was dead.” “Dangerous places you have to visit.” “Tarantulas have venom!” Also found on The Weather Channel. Since when did the TV station that used to play soft jazz and shoot out a forecast every few minutes become the scariest website on the Internet?

7. Dr. Seuss’s “Fox in Socks.” A cautionary tale. If you read this aloud and you don’t enunciate like Laurence Olivier, words no 18-month-old should hear will come barreling from your mouth, words they shouldn’t hear until at least fourth grade, and then only from the sixth graders they ride the bus with.

8. “Choking hazard. Contains small parts. Not for children under three years old.” You know those books that you read once but they stay with you forever? You think about them every day. This is one of those. Its lessons ring in my ears like the malfunctioning alarm of the car parked outside my house.

9. “A polar vortex is a persistent large-scale cyclone located near either of a planet’s geographical poles.” Then there are those you vow to erase from your memory forever.

10. “The season premiere of Downton Abbey. Check your local PBS listings.” Thank God. After all that reading all I really want to do is sit down and watch some fancy television.


Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears every other Sunday. She may be reached at, and her blog is at