A Year in Books – A (Partial) 2015 Reading List

I had less time for pleasure reading in 2015 as compared to years past. Ironically, this is because my daughter is no longer an infant and is more independent. She was a catnapper as a young baby, so rather than go down for one or two long naps, she slept an hour or less every few hours. The slightest noise (my joints cracking, a cough, the door shutting) would wake her. So, I made the most of those naps by reading. My phone, iPad, and later, Kindle, made it easy to read any kind of lighting. Those devices also allowed me to read one-handed (because, did I mention my daughter only would sleep while being held?).

Times Square, NYC. CC-licensed photo by Kohei Kanno

Times Square, NYC. CC-licensed photo by Kohei Kanno.

New changes in my professional life—a tenure-track Assistant Professorship at Radford University—also influenced this past year’s readings. Owing to a generous two-course release in my first year at Radford, I’ve been able to pursue more research and publication opportunities. Although that work is pleasurable, the list below doesn’t reference any academic titles except for #11. It’s a fascinating book, but I’m really including it here for superstitious reasons: 2016 could be the year that my research on public health official S. Josephine Baker and early twentieth century well baby care comes together. Interestingly, that project grew out of some pleasure reading I completed in 2014.

Without further adieu, here is my “year in books,” a partial and alphabetical list of books I read for fun in 2015:

  1. After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, Michael Hainey (memoir)
  2. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug (how-to guide)
  3. Drowned By Corn, Erika Hyaski (narrative nonfiction)
  4. Epilogue: A Memoir, Will Boast
  5. Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng (contemporary fiction)
  6. Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, Eddie Huang*
  7. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (contemporary fiction)
  8. The Grownup, Gillian Flynn (contemporary short fiction)
  9. The Martian, David Weir (contemporary science fiction)*
  10. Out of Orange: A Memoir, Cleary Wolters *
  11. Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America, Rima Apple (academic; history)
  12. Stitches: A Memoir, David Small (graphic memoir)
  13. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (essay)
  14. Without You, There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, Suki Kim (memoir)
  15. The Year My Mother Came Back, Alice Eve Cohen (memoir)

What about you? What books did you read for fun in 2015? Can you recommend any favorites?

Books that I especially enjoyed—that impressed me with craft, style, and substance—are highlighted and linked to author’s sites, when available.
*Books that I didn’t finish also are marked. I wanted to like #6 and #7, but they have some style and craft issues that I found irksome. I have no excuse for not finishing #8. Things got busy, and I guess I figured I could just watch the movie. True confession there, folks.



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Posted in Books, Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, General literature, Lifewriting

How to Teach Writing for/about Facebook – An ABC Roundtable

I’m co-organizing a teaching roundtable at the 2015 national meeting of the Association for Business Communication. Entitled “Beyond the Professional Digital Presence,” the roundtable focuses on teaching students how to write for or about Facebook in professional contexts.

Screenshot from beyondthedigipresence.wordpress.com

Screenshot from beyondthedigipresence.wordpress.com

The roundtable focuses on teaching students in business and professional writing classes how to write for Facebook, but for purposes other or in addition to developing a professional, digital presence. Specifically, the roundtable explores why and how business and professional writing instructors teach students to

(1) write for Facebook on behalf of an organization

(2) rhetorically analyze organizations’ use of Facebook in workplace genres, and/or

(3) consider how writing for Facebook as professionals brings security, privacy, and ethical issues into focus.

To facilitate the sharing of teaching-related materials among participants and audience members, I created a companion website for the roundtable. If you weren’t able to attend the roundtable or are finding this post after ABC 2015 has concluded, please take a look around the roundtable website for more information about why and how business and professional writing instructors are teaching students to write for/about Facebook.


Posted in Uncategorized, Workplace Writing
Dr. Amy Rubens
I'm an "ambulant scholar," and I move among several worlds. As a professor of English, I research and write for audiences within and outside of academia. As a teacher of writing, literature, and culture, I facilitate learning. As a blogger, I critique, question, and reflect. Learn more about this blog and the work I do as a professor and workplace writing consultant.

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