Samantha Leigh Miller

writer, reader, teacher

The World According to Garp by John Irving

What to Read When…you’re doing some hard hospital time. We all know that there are different kinds of “hospital time.”  Time spent waiting in the emergency room with a colicky child, or waiting for a new member of the family to emerge, sipping bad coffee as a grandparent is rolled into a machine, or pacing […]

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, by James McBride

You don’t often think that reading a book is like eating your vegetables, but in the case of James McBride’s Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, that’s exactly what it felt like.  Reading it now, just after the holidays, and after having spent the last few weeks eating leftover lasagna, turkey, and a sundry of pies […]

Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce

What to read when… …you need to feel there are still adventures to be had in this world.  I promise you that Miss Benson’s Beetle will make you want to quit your job, sell all your belongings, and hop a freight for the other side of the world.  The only issue there is that I […]

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women, by Lisa See

I hope I’m not alone in this.  Women mostly don’t talk about it.  I know I haven’t.  But I believe that if you’ve had a miscarriage, or had trouble getting pregnant, or if you’ve given birth to a special needs child, then inevitably we all ask the same question.  It’s the one we’re never supposed […]

Weyward, by Emilia Hart

I finished this book last night and this morning I saved an ant who had crawled up into my kitchen sink.  Violet and her striped-leg spider, Goldie, are entirely to blame.  Normally there would have been a swift death by drowning, but thanks to this book, I carefully led the ant onto a paper towel […]

Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr

Any author who gets me to read science fiction has absolutely earned their Pulitzer Prize.  I don’t know if it’s Konstance’s mass of curls that “haloes” her head or the fact that her socks are full of holes, but I was entirely sunk by the end of the very first paragraph of Cloud Cuckoo Land.  […]

The Exiles, by Christina Baker Kline

There are only a few cardinal rules for a writer: you must not be boring (I’m looking at you, Trust by Hernan Diaz, whom I can pick on because you won a Pulitzer Prize).  You must also not have plot holes (Doerr, what were you thinking?  I haven’t finished Cloud Cuckoo Land yet, so I […]

The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams

I think some of us always remember the first time we’re called a “dumb b*tch.”  It happened to me at 19—stalled out in the middle of an intersection, in the driver’s seat of a car I could not drive.  The car was an ’87 Pontiac Sunbird, five-speed…manual transmission.  I had been taught to drive the […]

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck

No one has time for a slow-start book anymore, which is a shame, since it’s the build in The Good Earth that makes this story so powerful.  Read the book for Wang Lung’s loveable characters, or O-lan’s frightening determination, or simply to have your eyes opened to a new way of understanding our relationship with […]

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

If you’re a book snob like me, you might have passed over this one simply because EVERYONE has been talking about it.  I’m not one for hype, which is why I still haven’t forgiven Taco Bell for taking away their Mexican pizza, then bringing it back with such ridiculous fanfare.  And I still haven’t forgiven […]