After somewhat dogging on the Mary Oliver book I read last month, I, of course, decided to memorize one of her poems this month. This poem is on the side of my friend Deborah’s refrigerator. It is also Responsive Reading #490 in the Unitarian Hymnal Singing the Living Tradition. I really like the first five lines, as they are good reminder for modern life.
Wow! Only two fiction books this month? What’s going on there?
Twelve by Twelve
Powers’ reaction to the twelve by twelve cabin upon first sight surprised me. He was disgusted by its tiny size, weirded out that someone might actually live there. This reaction from a NGO activist who had lived and worked in many developing countries? Was he living in palaces? (Apparently, we learn later, his housing was a bit fancy.) I’m all for living in a tiny space, so I had trouble with his trouble. Powers is a good writer, which is good because it makes his descriptions of life in the cabin interesting. The book can feel a bit navel gazing at times, but was otherwise interesting.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Read for Kenton Library Book Club, March 2011.
I loved this book. I have recommended it to several people and my description (A French concierge! Who is an intellectual! But hides it from people! And a very smart twelve year old girl! Who has decided that life is silly and that she will kill herself! It also has a lot of philosophy! It’s very awesome!) tends to give people that “sounds horrible, what is she thinking?” look in their eyes.
So my description won’t do it justice. But the book is very funny and I identified with both the characters throughout the book, and the book club was in agreement about this. Though some in my book club weren’t the raving fan I was, many enjoyed the novel more than some of the books we’ve read. A quick glance at Goodreads reviews shows a number of one star designations, so you might not like it. But I’m not interested in intellectual pursuits, philosophy or suicidal girls and I greatly loved this book. Or at least 19/20ths of it as I was not at all thrilled by the ending.
Bicycles: Love Poems
I came by Nikki Giovanni via the 2011 “Everybody Reads Selection” of the Multnomah County Library. The author of the selection, Wes Moore, has a sister named after Nikki Giovanni and I figured that was good enough reason to check her out. I found a lot of these poems a bit too “early relationship happy/sappy” for me and am interested in reading other poems by this author that are not specifically about love. My favorite poem was “Christmas Laughter” (which can be found by searching the title) which warmly reminded me of my shrinking family.
Book two of the Gretchen Lowell has much less torture, which I welcomed. It was another fun romp through Portland, Oregon with Archie Sheridan and Susan Ward.
Read for sporadic book club.
Beautifully illustrated and fantastical. Graphic Novels aren’t my genre, but I loved this.
The Last American Man
I think Elizabeth Gilbert’s talent shines in this book. She paints a portrait of a fascinating man who, as Matt so delicately put it, is “kind of an asshole.” Yet Gilbert supplies enough details about the man himself and his upbringing that I found myself rooting for Eustace Conway, even as I cringed at the way his complete inflexibility brought him a ton of success, but kept him from what he really wanted: a wife and family.
180 More Extraordinary Poems for Everyday
Billy Collins, ed.
Just what the title says it is, most of these meet my poetry requirement of “not too long.” However, my favorite was one of the longer poems in the book: David Kirby’s “A Cowardice of Husbands” which can be found right now by googling its title. Is it just me or does it feel wrong to be able to access the contents of the book and read it online? Shouldn’t we have to DO something to get our content?
Started and did not finish
A Separate Peace
Every time I took this book out in public someone noticed and made the comment, “Oh, I’ve read that book!” This book seems to have been part of high school curriculum across the nation. I however, have not read it, though I made it more than halfway through. I didn’t like the increasing sense of foreboding and I wasn’t a fan of either of the main characters, so I put this down. Interestingly, aside from the person who lent me the book, no one who had read it followed their statement of recognition with some form of “that was a great book!” so I think I’m in good company.
Close Range: Wyoming Stories
I just made time to read Brokeback Mountain which was lovely in its sadness.
Career Renegade: how to make a great living doing what you love.
An impulse grab at the library that I dipped into. This is written by a guy who was a lawyer who liked personal training and quit his job to open a fancy gym where he made a lot of money. Then he sold that and managed to make a bunch of money from yoga. His theme seems to be “don’t think like everyone else, think big.” I wasn’t in the mood to think that big, so I gave the book back. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again when I’m feeling bigger.
The backyard homestead
Ed. Carleen Madigan
This is a good general overview. I really liked the schematics for what could be produced on varying lot sizes: standard backyard, quarter acre, half acre, full acre.
Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden
Gilbert L. Wilson
I looked at the pictures. This goes back on my to-read list.