Dad’s and My Reading Challenge for 2022

I know you are as excited as I am to hear that we are doing this again!!! We are pairing Shakespeare plays with novels inspired by them and doing two-month periods so technically this challenge goes mid-way through 2023. We’ll see what happens!!

Jan-Feb: Lear + “Fool” by Christopher Moore

Mar-Apr: Hamlet + “Something Rotten” by Alan Gratz

May-June: Macbeth + “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith

July-Aug: Merchant of Venice + “Shylock is My Name” by Howard Jacobsen

Sept-Oct: Twelfth Night + “The Madness of Love” by Katherine Davies

Nov-Dec: Taming of the Shrew + Midsummer Night’s Dream + “Wise Children” by Angela Carter

Jan-Feb:  A Winter’s Tale + “Gap of Time” by Jeannette Winterson

Mar-Apr:  The Tempest + “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

May-June: Romeo + Juliet + “These Violent Delights” by Chloe Gong (YA)

Favorite Tunes of 2020

Finally! The post you’ve all been waiting for. Obvi.

My Favorite Albums:

  • Perfume Genius “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” (May) Oh my, this album. Falsetto swoony dramatics can be hit or miss for me, but I absolutely loved this. Favorite songs: “Jason,” “Nothing at All,” and “Some Dream.”
  • William Prince “Reliever” (February) This deep voice of calmness was so soothing. I guess this is labeled as country. If you like Eddie Vedder’s solo stuff, you might like this. Favorite songs: “Always Have What We Had” (with the best line “I can miss you from anywhere” SWOON) and “That’s All I’ll Ever Become.”
  • Ethan Gruska “En Garde” (February) don’t know what made me pick this one up (maybe the collab with Phoebe Bridgers?), but it stuck in my head. It’s certainly got a bit of an Elliott Smith vibe which turns out to be the kind of sound I was seeking all year long. Perfect for a melancholy “OMG it’s the end of the world” year like 2020, am I right? Favorite songs: “On the Outside,” “Enough for Now” (w/ PB), “Teenage Drug” one of my favorite songs of the year for sure.
  • Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher” (July) Speaking of Elliott Smith vibes… I wrote ‘Yup, yup, yup” next to pretty much every song on this album. I know this was Taylor Swift’s year to many people (and I do like both those albums enough to have them on my top 10) but I will maintain that this album and the HAIM release (below) are JUST AS GOOD, if not… better? Heh. Don’t come at me, Swiftees, I’m allowed to have a different opinion than you! Favorite songs: “Moon Song”, “Graceland Too”, “Kyoto”… And all the rest of them. Ha.
  • HAIM “Women In Music Pt III” (July) Do I own or know anything about parts 1 and 2, if those indeed exist? Nope, I don’t, but this album just really dug its way in to my eardrums. There’s all kinds of musical nods happening in the backgrounds, it’s so upbeat and fun in a LOT of ways. There are several songs with just a great! beat! on this album. What fun. Favorite songs: “Los Angeles,” “The Steps”, “I Know Alone”, “Up from a Dream” “Don’t Wanna”, “All That Ever Mattered”, “Now I’m In It.”
  • The Weeknd “After Hours” (April) Cringe. Some of his lyrics are so misogynistic, I don’t think I’d love my teenage daughter getting obsessed with his music. Those are probably all the songs I like the best HAHAHAHA OMG life is frustrating. I just… always love every album he puts out and then one day I find myself analyzing the lyrics I’m singing along to and get annoyed. Oh well. Such is life. Sometimes great songs have shitty messages. Music is complicated like that. Favorite songs: “Hardest to Love”, “Heartless”, “In Your Eyes”.
  • Kesha “High Road” (February) I had never bought a Kesha / Ke$ha album before but this one was totally worth it. TOTALLY. A wild mix of upbeat rock and pop, melancholy country, it’s up, it’s down, it’s all over the place. Favorite songs: “Cowboy Blues” (“Did I fuck my whole life up?”), “High Road,” “Birthday Suit” (so ridic), and “Resentment” (w/ Brian Wilson and Sturgill Simpson, of all people).
  • Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud” (April) Pretty sure Busy Phillips’ instagram stories put this on my radar as I’ve never really been a Waxahatchee fan in the past. This album has what is definitely a contender for song of the year: “Fire”. I take it for granted / If I could love you unconditionally / I could iron out the edges of the darkest sky / For some of us it ain’t enough / It ain’t enough. Cannot stop listening to it, singing it, humming it, getting lost in its chorus. It’s 2020’s Maggie Roger’s “Alaska.” Other favorites: “Lilacs” (so Dylanesque) and “Hell.”
  • Taylor Swift “Folklore” (July) OK are the “Cardigan” commercials not cracking everyone else up at this point? I mean, it seems insane months (and another album) later to suddenly see them a million times every Hulu show I watch. Heh. Favorite songs: “Exile” (feat Bon Iver) duh, “Seven,” “This Is Me Trying,” “Invisible String”, and “Mad Woman.”
  • Taylor Swift “Evermore” (December) Seriously, if this album was just the song “Ivy” in every single position, I would love it just as much. SONG OF THE YEAR, people, song of the whole damn year. Oh, goddamn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. But, sure, there are others I liked. I guess. Favorite songs: “Willow,” “Champagne Problems,” “No Body, No Crime” (feat HAIM), “Dorothea,” and “Coney Island (feat The National).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Little Big Town “Nightfall” (February) In keeping the favorite list to 10, Waxahatchee knocked this one off. But there are a ton of songs on this album that really *really* stuck with me. Favorite songs: “Questions” and “The Daughters” might be the best back to back on an album all year.
  • BLACKSTARKIDS “Whatever, Man” (November) Oh wow, I dig this one. But.. I got it in November and then didn’t really start listening to it until 2021. Heh. I am always up for trying albums recommended by Hanif Abdurraqibb because his writing about music just sucks me in! But a lot of times it turns out I don’t hear what he heard in it. This one, however, is aces. Favorite song: “Camp Whatever” Haven’t felt alive in a while, but I’m not dead.

Best 1-2 Punch of the Year:

“WAP” Cardi B. & Megan Thee Stallion to be followed immediately by “Watermelon Sugar” Harry Styles. I know, what are we-teenagers? Just take my word for it.

Favorite Songs Not From Aforementioned Albums:

  • “Conversations in the Dark” John Legend – just all kinds of big swoony love for this tribute to CT.
  • “No Time for Love Like Now” Michael Stipe – definitely my favorite song of those early Pandemic days. Ah, those early Pandemic days.
  • “Hard to Forget” Sam Hunt – yes, I love his cheesy sappy fratboy albums. But never all the way through. This song though…
  • “Another Beginning” Joshua Radin – can he even write a bad song?
  • “Kings & Queens” Ava Max – just put this baby on repeat.
  • “One More Second” and “Take Me Out of Town” Matt Berninger – I was bummed to not really enjoy this album overall but loved these two.
  • “Ridiin’ Solo” Jason DeRulo – I think this may have come out some other year but 2020 is the year I could not stop singing it, like, basically, ever. It’s all about the beat, baby.
  • “Wasted Youth” Diana Gordon – oooooo love this draggy slow swirl.
  • “Almost Home” Moby (feat Damien Jurado – OMG so Bon Iver.
  • “I’m the One” DJ Khaled (feat. Justin Bieber et al) – Good grief, I like a song with Justin Beiber on it? Just bury me in shame.
  • “Spiral” Pinegrove – Another Busy Phillips insta earworm. “Drink water, good morning…”
  • “Video Games” and “Goodbye to All That” Sufjan Stevens – another album I found myself disappointedly uninterested in. Sigh. I love so much of Sufjan’s stuff, but somehow I never found a way in with this one.
  • “Cavalry” Mashrou’ Leila – an album recommended by YA author Abdi Nazemian, thoroughly enjoyed it and this song was the real standout for me.
  • “Beige” and “Goodpain” Yoke Lore – their Goodpain EP was a highlight.
  • “Gone Gone/Thank You” Tyler, the Creator – probably came out in 2019 but I bought the album in January, one of my “everyone had this on last year’s list” purchases, I think.
  • “Pictures” Asgeir – I buy a lot of singles when I hear them in a movie, on a TV show, or on a commercial. Presumably that’s how I found this one.
  • “Lost Here” Fauntella Crow – probably same.

Favorite Covers: (in that rare year where I bought very few!):

  • “Explain It to Me” Squirrel Flower – Liz Phair cover, that frankly sounds very close to the original. Heh.
  • “I’m on Fire” Staves – all slowed down and glorious.
  • “Put Your Records On” Ritt Momney – omg the name of this band. Smacks forehead.

What’d I miss? What song or album could YOU not stop listening to in 2020? I’d love to know…

(Almost) 10 Things from 2020

1 time I saw my parents in person.

2 small quilts finished.

3 ways I now cook salmon at home.

4 bike rides I went on this summer.

5 friends I now play D&D remotely with.

6 placemats I made for Natalie.

7 dresses and tunics I sewed this year.

8 pies I made from scratch this summer.



I never managed to come up with anything for 9 & 10! HA!

Things I did today:

  • Worked at the salon from 8-3.
  • Determined that I can still eat from the freezer for another week so no need to buy groceries and cook lunches.
  • Got a pedicure.
  • Went to Mariano’s for cookie supplies and bought a pizza.
  • Updated the podcasts on my iPod.
  • Graded approximately 50 annotated articles.
  • Made two batch of sugar cookie dough (from two different recipes).

Got some baking’ to do tomorrow. And about 180 or so more articles to read.

À la Nick Hornby, books in/books out for June.


  • Hmmm, I’m sure I bought something… But I don’t seem to have written it down. Possibly all I bought were the gajillion Allen Say books I bought as goodbye presents for my students!


  • Saving Zasha, by Randi Barrow (borrowed from a student)
  • Across the Universe, by Beth Revis (reread)
  • A Million Suns, by Beth Revis
  • Shades of Earth, by Beth Revis

À la Nick Hornby, books in/books out for April.


  • The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Bratton and Brenna Yovanoff
  • The River of No Return, by Bee Ridgeway
  • The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley
  • Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Blood Magic, by Tessa Gratton


  • The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Bratton and Brenna Yovanoff
  • The River of No Return, by Bee Ridgeway
  • The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley

ACK. So much unallowed book buying.

Modern indie sewing patterns.

Sewaholic – The two Renfrews I made (so far) were so easy and so much better fitting with less adjusting than anything I’ve made from commercial patterns since really developing more of a figure than the stick straight skinny girl who sewed for herself in high school and college. I want to make LOTS more of her stuff!

Grainline Studio – I have the fabric picked out for a few woven Ts and I’m really intrigued by Archer especially after she posted so many photos and videos in a sewalong on her blog.

Hot Patterns – I should make the pattern I already bought from them before buying more but there are so many I’m intrigued by.

Victory Patterns – A bit retro and somewhat goofy but I do look forward to making this. When I get back to having time to sew. The month of July, I guess.

Sew Liberated – Kinda obsessed with the Esme top these days. And I want an Ashland dress as well.

Make It Perfect – I’m obsessed with the waterfall blouse and the poppy tunic. And I’m pretty sure I bought that versatile wrap skirt pattern at a fabric store in Chicago a long time ago.

Megan Nielsen – Where you find the ubiquitous Darling Ranges dress. None of her patterns seem quite me yet but I like to keep an eye on them.

Colette – As with Megan Nielsen, I’ve yet to see a Colette pattern that really rang my bell, but I did buy the Laurel shift one as I’m somehow still convinced that a hippy curvy person like me will somehow find a shift she likes. Not sure why I still believe that.

Made by Rae – Mostly kid patterns but when she does do adult stuff I really like it. I mean I like the look of the pattern, so far the one I’ve made I don’t wear much.

Jamie Christina – I want that raglan lo-hi hoodie with a little less differential between lo and hi.

April Rhodes – I bought this pattern recently but I don’t think she’s developed anything else yet.

Things I Love Right Now

I love the new NPR blog Code Switch*, so timely considering I just started talking to my third graders about this concept when, for example, I correct their grammar or we edit their writing to change “u” to “you” and “cus” to “because”. I particularly love these two (one, two) introductory entries on the blog.

I love this standardized test about standardized tests created by an eighth grader. I even shared it with my principal!

I love (or plan to love in the future) the Digital Public Library of America which I read about here and here.

I love this book I started reading today *coughcough* after buying it on the way to the library *coughcough*. Time travel! Secret societies! Romance! What’s not to love.

I love this timeline for Shane Carruth’s movie Primer and this article about his new movie Upstream Color–a movie which makes Tree of Life look like a linear plot-driven mundane piece of filmmaking.

I love my bahn mi place even if they are starting to be so busy that I have to wait a lot longer for my sandwich. Now that my pizza joint (I MISS YOU CHILI MAC’S!) is gone, when I die my body will be 75% water and 25% bahn mi.

*I was shocked to find out several of my colleagues were unfamiliar with the term. I think it’s imperative for teachers to talk to students about code-switching, especially in reference to the language of power in this country!