William Inge

Books I Read in 2015

I’ve been a bit all over the place with my reading the last two years. In 2013, I set a goal of reading 40 books and beat it, and in 2014, I seriously surpassed my goal of reading 52 books by reading 91 (my numbers have been greatly bolstered by reading plays, in case you were wondering).

Since I’m in an English Literature graduate program, I obviously do plenty of reading, but I think I went back to my goal of 50 books in 2015. Though this number might be a bit low based on 2014’s results, I stay plenty busy with my school reading and don’t always have lots of time for recreational reading. I ended up exceeding that goal by reading 69 books in 2015, an achievement I’m pretty proud of. Here’s my full list of reading from 2015–for reference, the titles listed in bold are those I particularly enjoyed.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. Live From New York, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
  3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan
  4. Looking for Alaska, John Green
  5. Sanctuary, William Faulkner
  6. It’s Only A Play, Terrence McNally
  7. Brother to Dragons, Robert Penn Warren
  8. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
  9. Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman
  10. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, William Inge
  11. Come Back, Little Sheba, William Inge
  12. Bus Stop, William Inge
  13. The Basic Eight, Daniel Handler
  14. Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell
  15. My Ideal Bookshelf, Jane Mount and Thessaly la Force
  16. Fallen Too Far, Abbi Glines
  17. Wait for You, J. Lynn
  18. The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
  19. Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
  20. In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway
  21. Child of God, Cormac McCarthy
  22. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  23. Love, Rosie, Cecelia Ahern
  24. Airships, Barry Hannah
  25. Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley
  26. The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
  27. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  28. Joe, Larry Brown
  29. Wolf Whistle, Lewis Nordan
  30. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  31. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
  32. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews
  33. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  34. Angels in America Part One: Millennium ApproachesTony Kushner
  35. Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Tony Kushner
  36. The Complete Stories, Flannery O’Connor
  37. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  38. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  39. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  40. Paper Towns, John Green
  41. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  42. Shame, Salman Rushdie
  43. Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
  44. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
  45. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  46. Vita Nuova, Dante Alighieri
  47. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  48. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  49. Dragonfly in AmberDiana Gabaldon
  50. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  51. Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih
  52. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, Aimé Césaire
  53. Divine Comedy Vol. I: Inferno, Dante Alighieri
  54. After the Fall, Arthur Miller
  55. Murder in Retrospect, Agatha Christie
  56. Divine Comedy Vol. II: Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri
  57. The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Phoebe Gloeckner
  58. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington
  59. Divine Comedy Vol. III: Paradiso, Dante Alighieri
  60. The Grownup, Gillian Flynn
  61. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
  62. The Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone
  63. Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  64. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  65. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
  66. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
  67. This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  68. The Cripple of Inishmaan, Martin McDonagh

Book #11: Come Back, Little Sheba, by William Inge

My William Inge reading streak continues with Come Back, Little Sheba. I’m reading one last play by Inge before moving on to anything else, so stay tuned.

I was less interested in this play that Inge’s others that I’ve read, but I didn’t dislike it. It’s a shorter play, and I just generally felt like it didn’t have a strong of an impact on me.

The play centers on the lives of Lola and her husband, Doc, and a college-aged woman who rents a room from them, named Marie. Lola is lonely and desires a more exciting life, though she isn’t quite sure how to get it.

Lots of the play’s conflict hinges on the lack of communication between Lola and Doc, who married young because she was pregnant (only to lose the baby). The play presents challenges in marriage, but I didn’t feel like it said as much as I’d hoped.

Now on to the last Inge play in my collection: Bus Stop. I hope I enjoy this one a bit more.

Book #10: The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, by William Inge

Since I’ve now completed 25% of my reading goal for 2015 and it’s not even the end of January, I’m starting to think I should have aimed a little higher.

In my last days of winter break, I couldn’t quite decide what reading I wanted to be occupied with, so I turned to an anthology of William Inge plays, figuring at least they’d go quickly. I read one of Inge’s most popular works, Picnic, for a class last spring and really enjoyed it, so I figured I’d give the other plays of his that I own a go.

Much like Picnic, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs deals with Midwestern life, though this play takes place in the 1920s in Oklahoma. We’re dropped into the lives of the Flood family whose patriarch is a traveling salesman and a bit of a rowdy cowboy, unlike the rest of his family. Rubin’s absence is difficult for his wife, Cora, who can’t decide if she really wants to be with her husband and wishes for a grander lifestyle.

What I really liked about this play (and about Picnic) was that it feels like a glimpse into typical middle class American life. There are serious subjects involved (like suicide, rape, domestic abuse, and sexuality), but Inge doesn’t take a heavy-handed approach. His plays read like real life.

In a way, Inge’s work makes me think of the movie Boyhood, which has become the frontrunner to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year. Neither shies away from difficult subjects, but they don’t affect families in a necessarily life-changing way. They offer audiences a glimpse at reality, even if reality isn’t always so pretty.

Book #28: Picnic, by William Inge

Book #28: Picnic, by William Inge

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer: if you noticed that I jumped from book #25 to #28 from my last review to this one, it wasn’t because I’ve forgotten how to count. Actually, it’s because I’ve fallen into a rather embarrassing spiral of reading free crappy teen novels on my iPad. Yeah, it’s kind of an issue. I’ve sped through three books since Sunday and I’m already progressing with another. That being said, I have no intention to write critiques of all these silly reading ventures, but you can find the titles on my 2014 Reading List. If you’re interested in my feelings, though, feel free to ask.

Okay, now back to real literature. Picnic wasn’t a title I was familiar with until the Modern American Drama class that’s continuously enlightening me about great plays. Like the last play we read (Tea and Sympathy), Picnic is neither a drama or comedy, but falls somewhere in between. It does have some funny moments — these are especially apparent in the 1955 film adaptation — but it feels more like a dramedy or coming-of-age story than anything else.

What’s been more interesting to me lately is that these past two plays both center heavily around a romantic plot, and both also happen to have seemingly happy endings (this isn’t exactly the case for Picnic when you start to think about it too much, but it’s nice on a surface level). While many dramas that feature an important love story tend to end tragically — consider Desire Under the Elms or The Glass Menagerie, for example — these two end on lighter notes. It’s a bit refreshing to read a story that isn’t completely emotionally exhausting for a change.

And in regards to the film adaptation, I really enjoyed it overall. There are scenes that seem a bit silly and dated, but it generally works. The casting of William Holden as Hal seemed quite strange since he’s about fifteen years too old for the part, but he still played the role well. It’s also a bit upsetting to see how lovely Kim Novak used to be when we know what she looked like at the Oscars this year. Yikes.

Anyway, now that I’ve read my first Inge play, I’m interested to read some of his others. My copy of Picnic is featured in a collection of four of Inge’s most famous works, so I definitely plan to read more in the near future.