Fine Print Blog

What are you reading out there in quarantine?  Well, if you are reading this–thank you!  This post is a mix of then & now as we take a look back at what two people were reading (or want to read, thus the #tadltoread) back in April and January of 2015.  What were their reading ambitions?  Fast forward to today and see if they were able to get through their to read piles, if they have another stack waiting for them or has the quarantine allowed them get through their must read gems and many more?


First up, flash back to April 2015 with local author Cari Noga, a well established local author of several books–I absolutely recommend her newest, The Orphan Daughter.

April 11, 2015

Local author Cari Noga’s debut novel, Sparrow Migrations, has gotten great reviews. And we can’t wait to talk with her in person this month at Books & Brewskis. (remember this was back in 2015) Here’s what’s in her #toread pile (pictured above):

Cari says:

“From the bottom up, here’s why these titles wound up with me:

Both The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan and A Land We Can Share (subtitled Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism) were chosen so I can help my son’s reading improve. Rules is also autism-related, an award-winning middle grade book written from the POV of a sister of a boy with autism. It might help with my daughter someday.

On Immunity is actually already read (my review here.) My community experienced an outbreak of pertussis last year, and more isolated cases of measles. As a staunchly pro-vaccination parent yet personally disinclined to invite conflict, I’ve been struggling with how vocal to be on this matter of public health. Reading Bliss’ book (and recommending it) is a first step.

The Second Chance Key is part of my effort to read more self-pubbed authors. Jacque Burke is the wonderful ML (municipal liaison) of my NaNoWriMo area and this is her debut novel. The next two are also by authors with northern Michigan connections. Nuts to You is the latest by Newbery Medal winner Lynne Rae Perkins (President Obama also picked it up recently) and Field Notes for the Earthbound is a much-acclaimed, first full-length work by John Mauk, a former colleague at Northwestern Michigan College. I’m lucky to have all three of these signed by their authors.

Topping it all off is a coming-of-age classic that I’ve stopped and started a few times, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Maybe this will be the year.”

More recently here is Cari’s #tadltoread pile:

Thanks to COVID-19, my to-read stack is heavy on comfort reads. As I did in my 2015 post, I’ll start again from the bottom up:

The first three titles are all re-reads. Amid so much uncertainty, knowing what you’re going to get is comfort. If I were forced to make a list of my top 10 all-time favorite reads, Cutting for Stone would be on it. It is Verghese’s only novel, set in his native Ethiopia, and it is magnificent. Empathetic characters, vivid settings, compelling plot. I’m re-reading it both for enjoyment and as a lesson in a novel set over many years, as my own work-in-progess is.

I devoured Anne LaMott’s Operating Instructions, a journal of her first year as a mom, when I was in that role in 2005. Like LaMott’s, my son’s infancy included terrible colic and it felt much like aspects of the quarantine: Isolation, monotony, anxiety and uncertainty. Making things worse, my feelings were diametrically opposed to what I’d been told to expect of new motherhood: Love, bliss, contentment, fulfillment. LaMott’s book was the first acknowledgment that being a new mother could be hard. Read mostly while nursing my son, it was such a relief to find my experience reflected in the pages. Operating Instructions is now one of my standard baby-shower gifts. I dug it and Traveling Mercies out now because LaMott’s acknowledgment of the trials of being human is a first step to accepting them. 

The next two books are both middle-grade reads. The Return of Zita the Space Girl is the third in a series by Ben Hatke, who was to be the guest author for this year’s Battle of the Books. I coached my daughter’s team and read the first of the series, Zita the Space Girl, for the competition (which TADL also sponsored- thank you!) The cancellation of the finale and the opportunity to meet Hatke was one of the biggest disappointments of COVID-19. I don’t know where I picked up The Watsons Go to Birmingham, but it’s set in Flint during the Civil Rights era. My daughter enjoyed a book like that chosen for the 2019 Battle (The Lions of Little Rock) so she and I are reading this aloud now.

Playful Intelligence is a rare foray into self-help. It was recommended to me as a book that offered simple steps to reframe your perspective on life, yielding to more satisfaction. I got it through MELCat –again, thank you library! 

Like the Watsons, A Gate at the Stairs is another title whose acquisition is lost to memory. A reviewer of one of my own books, The Orphan Daughter, commented I wrote like author Lorrie Moore. So it was a happy accident to find it on my shelf. I’ve only just started it.

Last, The Rent Collector was my book club’s pick for April. My Kindle was the easiest way to get it, with the library and stores closed. I’ve not quite finished but it’s excellent so far. It’s about an illiterate young Cambodian woman who lives in a garbage dump and wants to learn to read so that she can provide a better life for her son. That kind of book can often make me feel guilty for worrying about my own first-world problems, but so far author Camron Wright has steered clear of that by delivering an absorbing story of a protagonist it’s easy to root for, Sang Ly.

I probably have enough books in my house to get me through months of quarantine, but I can’t wait to get back to the Woodmere library, not only for fresh material, but to enjoy the wonderful community hub that it is.”


Flashback to January or 2015 and see what Allison Beers of Events North was reading way back then:

January 6, 2015

Allison Beers is the owner of the events management company, Events North, and a 7-time (!) 40 under 40-er for the Traverse City Business News. Here’s what’s in her #toread pile (pictured above):

Allison says:

“I love to read books from amazing business leaders to get different perspectives on what made them successful.  I was an English major in college and was fortunate to get to read so many classics while at Albion.  Dr. Horstman is a Traverse City resident and was a professor of mine (one of my favorites) at Albion so I HAD to read his new book.  Between running two businesses and two kids, I try to read a few minutes here and there when I can!  Also, I own about 110 scarfs so I’m always looking for new ways to tie them!”

Check out some of Allison’s books at TADL:

Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Rebuilding the Foodshed by Philip Ackerman-Leist

The Work of Leaders by Julie Straw

Flash forward to today to see what is on Allison’s #tadltoread pile:

I did read all of the books in my old stack.  I think I quit Lean In half way through though…

I still keep my scarf book handy!  I’m excited to jump into the follow up book by Jeff Nania, Spider Lake: A Northern Lakes Mystery.  I really really liked his last book.  My brother turned me on to him and I couldn’t put the book down. I decided to grab an old book off my book shelf in the basement.  I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school.  I have two journals here, too.  I was starting my day with mindfulness and I would write in the book each morning before my feet even hit the ground (so that I would always do it) and that only lasted two weeks… but maybe if I leave it here I’ll get back into it.  I keep telling myself that!  My Quotable Kid is one of the best gifts I ever received.  I have been writing funny things my kids say in it for 11 years.  When I write them, I think that there is no way I’ll forget them saying that funny thing.  Sometimes I’ll look back at old things in there and I’m so thankful that I wrote them down because I would have definitely forgotten them.


There you go!  Some new stuff, some old, some the library has, some we will need to get.  We have a great book on scarf tying and we will be sure to look for the Jeff Nania book(s).  All the titles (if the library has them) are linked to either a digital copy or physical copy.

Want to show us what you’re reading? Post a picture of your #toread stack and use the hashtags #tadltoread and #fineprint.