Rebecca R. Gould


Reading Log

Above: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Young Girl Reading

My reading ranges from literature to political theory, Islam. Some highlights of my reading are logged below. For more detailed discussion of specific books, you can consult my YouTube series of reviews of new poetry books. Longer lists books I recommend are here.

Update: check out my film reviews on at MUBI 

June 2022

It’s been a year since I last posted about my reading! Of course I have read a great deal in the interim. Just to note a few highlights: Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Windfell Hall, Harem by Armenian writer Raffi, and two books for my forthcoming book Sex and the State: Kate Bolick’s Spinster and Michael Cobb, Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled. Plus many amazing movies, the best of which are Karim Aïnouz’s THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURIDICE GUSMÃO and Alexandre Rockwell’s SWEET THING, and Sean Baker’s TANGERINE. I’ve started rating the films I love at MUBI  and plan to add more detailed reviews soon.

May 2021

Marie Silkeberg, Damascus, Atlantis: Selected Poems.Translated from the Swedish by Kelsi Vanada. This is an innovative collection, that brings together different voices into a visual collage of Damascus during war. I had some questions about the co-authorial relation that remained unanswered by the end. But it is highly recommended! You can read my review of the collection here.

Purchase this book in the US (Amazon). Purchase it in the UK (Amazon). Purchase it from Bookshop.

April 2021

Ibn Arabi, Translator of Desires, translated from the Arabic by Michael Sells. A classic text by a masterful translator. Read my review here.

Purchase this book in the US (Amazon). Purchase it in the UK (Amazon). Purchase it from Bookshop.

March 2021

Threa Almontaser’s The Wild Fox of Yemen (2021), an exciting debut collection by a Yemeni-American poet. You can read my review of this collection here. Here is my video review of Almontaser’s book:

Purchase this book in the US (Amazon). Purchase it in the UK (Amazon). Purchase it from Bookshop.

February 2021

Nathaniel Tarn, The Hölderliniae (New Directions, 2021) I was lucky enough to get access to this two months prior to publication.

I have written up my impressions of this book here, and have also created a video review of the book.

Hafez: Translations and Interpretations of the Ghazals, trans. Geoffrey Squires (Miami University Press, 2014)

Marina Tsvetaeva, Dark Elderberry Branch, trans. Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine (Alice James Books, 2012)

January 2021

Agha Shahid Ali, Rooms Are Never Finished: Poems (2001). This magnificent work was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in poetry.

December 2020

George Eliot, Middlemarch

November 2020

Dalia Sofer, Man of My Time. A brilliant chronicle of the aftermath of the Iranian revolution for Iranians abroad and in Iran.

October 2020

Andrew March’s The Caliphate of Man: Popular Sovereignty in Modern Islamic Thought (Harvard UP, 2019)

September 2020

Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love. An historical novel about Rumi and Shams Tabrizi.

Nietzsche, “The Uses and Abuses of History for Life” (1873). Rereading this remarkable essay.

Edward Said, On Late Style. Reminds me that there were so many facets to Said not represented by the polemical Orientalism.

August 2020

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

For Rushdie: Essays by Arab and Muslim Writers in Defense of Free Speech

July 2020

Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004)

June 2020

Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884)

May 2020

Wislawa Symborska, Maps

Eavan Boland, Domestic Violence (reading in honor of the poet’s passing in April)

April 2020

Zadie Smith, On Beauty (great bathtub reading!)

Borges, The Craft of Poetry

March 2020

Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor

February 2020

Richard Yates, The Easter Parade (Always stunned by the brilliance of this underrated novelist.)

January 2020

Robert Duncan, Root & Branches

December 2019

The Secret Barrister

Zadie Smith, White Teeth

November 2019

Richard Yates, Disturbing the Peace (the more I read by Yates, the more awed I am. Would love to write about him someday)

Charlotte Bronte, The Professor (am working on an essay about this book and Bronte in Belgium)

October 2019

Friedrich Holderlin, Letters and Essays (brilliantly translated by Richard Sieburth)

September 2019

Jason Rezaian, Prisoner (thinking of my last trip to Iran in 2016).

August 2019

Kafka, Letters to Milena (I also read Kafka’s Letters to Felice, but the letters to Milena were much more striking and easier to relate to).

Joakim Garff, Kierkegaard’s Muse: The Mystery of Regine Olsen (Princeton, 2017). A strangely painful, but also riveting, read.

July 2019

The poetry of Robert Duncan, a pioneering visionary poet whom I am pleased to have encountered, if rather late in my life as a reader.

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road (unbelievable how long it’s taken me to discover this masterpiece!)

June 2019

Houria Bouteldja,’s Whites, Jews, and Us Toward a Politics of Revolutionary love (MIT Press, 2017), a provocative critique of the whiteness of leftist politics, and a call to revolutionary action. Moves beyond many of the cliches that continue to structure postcolonial theory.

May 2019

Heavily immersed in Ernst Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies. A classic tomb. One of those books that make one wonder how one managed to get through life without reading it.

April 2019

I’ve been mostly immersed in reading poetry, and am pleased to have discovered the work of Ada Limón, Nathanial Mackey, and Carmen Giménez Smith, among many others. American poetry is flourishing more than I realized, and seemingly more than American fiction.

March 2019

G.A. Cohen, If You’re Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? (2000)

  • a great work of political philosophy by a Marxist thinker close to my heart

This is turning out to be a great month for plays. So far I have seen (links to reviews where available):

Shakespeare, Richard III (Bristol Old Vic)

Tennessee Williams, The Two Character Play (Alma Tavern Theatre)

Caroline Williams and Reem Karssli, Now is the Time to Say Nothing  (Bristol Old Vic)

February 2019

The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History Edited by Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg (2019)

Adrienne Rich, Poetry & Commitment (2006); Essential Essays

  • classic texts, that diagnose current predicaments in American politics (and poetics)

Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (2011)

  •  scintillating reflections on sexuality, desire, and aesthetics from one of the best living novelists

January 2019

Edward Said, Beginnings (1975)

December 2018

Jean Bodin, Methodus (1566)

October 2018

Jeremy Waldron, The Harm in Hate Speech (2012)

September 2018

Ronald Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs (2011)

August 2018

John Boswell, The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance (1994)

  • brilliantly written & important reflections on conceptions of paternity and childhood. I look forward to reading his work on medieval same-sex desire.

Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (1988)


Perpetual Reading Projects

Over the years, I have created working bibliographies on a range of topics I have researched on Worldcat. A great and under-utilized resource!

I have highlighted some of the texts I turn to for pleasure reading on Goodreads.

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