Visit our Year in Review


Our Year in Review is ready, just in time for Hanukkah!

Check it out for a Coker family update as well as our picks for 2017’s best books, music and movies. 


The 7 best books I read this year

I read. A lot. This year, seven books earned five-star reviews from me on Goodreads. I know 2017 isn’t over yet, but I’m seeing a lot of year-end lists already, so I thought I’d get going on mine.

These aren’t necessarily the best books of 2017, as many were published earlier. Rather, these are the best books I read this year. They include nonfiction titles as well as some spectacular fiction.

Here they are, in alphabetical order by author. Click on the link to see my brief review:

  1. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
  2. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  4. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  7. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

If you’re only going to read one of these, make it the Coates. If you have time for two, then add Ward’s novel, which just won the National Book Award.


Sophie becomes a bat mitzvah!

Sophie became a bat mitzvah on June 24, 2017, at Temple Concord in Binghamton, N.Y. Here are a few highlights of the Shabbat service that she led with help from Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell and cantorial soloist Joshua Wallenstein:

Torah service:

Sophie’s speech, reflecting on that week’s portion, Korach:

Eric’s speech, honoring Sophie’s accomplishments and talking about why we think she is going to make a difference in the world:

Party with Percy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

percyinviteWhen Charlotte turned 10, she was as into Percy Jackson (a half-god/half-mortal character featured in a series of books by Rick Riordan) as some kids are into Harry Potter. We took inspiration from the books’ basis in Greek mythology for her birthday party.

We invited Charlotte’s friends to join us at Camp Halfblood (the camp Percy and other kids who have one godly parent attend), where they received a special message that assigned them to one of four cabins. Activities included a race to get dressed in a toga and laurel crown, a trivia contest, an opportunity to make your own shield and sword fighting (with foam swords). At the Demeter cabin, the kids planted sunflowers.

We enjoyed a variety of blue foods, too, since those are a favorite of Percy himself!


Go visit our Year in Review!

october_10Our Year in Review is ready!

Pop on over for a 2016 update on our little family as well as the usual pop cultural picks. Curious about Charlotte’s taste in movies? Want to know what our resident tween is watching over on YouTube? If you’re looking for Eric’s music recommendations and a few book suggestions from Rachel, you’ll find those, too!

Rachel’s recommended reading

I love reading. Also making lists of books to read, reviewing books, talking about books … Well, you get the idea.

best booksRecently, a few friends have asked me for book recommendations, which inspired me to make up a list of the best books I’ve read during the past few years. These aren’t necessarily new books, though many of them are. Most of them are works of fiction, though some of the absolute best ones are novels that will challenge you to consider deeper truths about yourself and about the world.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately? I’d love to hear about it!

Click on a title in this list to see my review of the book on Goodreads.




Ann Patchett is a national treasure. I revere Toni Morrison as well, so I’m not sure I can say for sure that Patchett is my favorite living author. Anyway, though, there are more of her books on this list than any other writer:




  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (No review posted; I read this every other year or so. Best book of all time, as far as I’m concerned.)
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway