Books on a Plane: Winter Reading Recs from the SAL Staff

Whether we’re having a quick conversation by the Keurig machine or scribbling furiously when Tom Hanks cites Everyday Stalinism from the SAL stage, book gossip is our currency at the SAL offices. As we look forward to reading with you in 2018, here’s a sneak peek at our holiday reading hopes and dreams:


Alicia Craven, WITS Program Director: “I’m reading Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez by Lawrence Weschler. Born to undocumented parents, Ramiro Gomez uses Hockney paintings, doctored magazine ads, and subversive cutouts to show the “invisible” domestic lives of Los Angeles: the nannies, gardeners, and cleaners behind the media’s glossy visions of L.A.”

Ruth Dickey, Executive Director: “Ho ho ho!  On the plane to North Carolina and back and over the holiday, I plan to be reading Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing; the essay collection This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home edited by Margot Case and Kelly McMasters; and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.”

Alex Chase, Donor Relations Associate: “Over the holidays, I plan to read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende. I’m also looking forward to digging through my boxes of books at my parents’ house while I’m home and finding some old favorites to revisit in the New Year.”

Nichole Coates, WITS Program Associate: “I’m planning on reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Hardly War by Don Mee Choi.”

Christina Gould, Patron Services Manager: “I’m pretending to be a snow bird for the holiday week. On the plane, in the sun, and back again, I have ambitious plans to finish the short stories Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins, Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Happy holiday reading!”

Rebecca Hoogs, Associate Director: “My almost 5-year-old son and I will be reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins in preparation for seeing the show at the Children’s Theatre on his birthday. In the evenings, I plan on getting cozy by the fire and reading Gregory Orr’s memoir The Blessing as well as N.K. Jemison’s The Fifth Season.”

Amelia Peacock, Marketing Associate: “My holiday vacation this year begins with a quick trip to soak up any available sunshine in New Orleans before returning to the frozen tundra of my homeland in Minnesota. I packed Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend (I’m finally going to crack the spine on the series that the entire SAL office loves!) and Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead.

Leanne Skooglund, Development Director: “Happy New Year! Over the holiday break, I’ll be in front of the fire reading Sag Harbor to get ready for SAL’s Colson Whitehead event, and Never Too Late by John Holt to help me stay inspired to keep practicing my fiddle.”

Alison Stagner, Events Coordinator & Content Editor: “As a Midwest gal, I long for snow when the Seattle rains hit, so I’ll be tearing through Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy, a fantasy series rich with Russian folklore. Full of travelers using frozen rivers as roads, ovens large enough for families to sleep on, and mostly-benevolent frost demons, it’s the winter’s tale I’m craving.”

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