March Reads

Since I’ve convinced myself that reading is part of my job description and therefore, is not something I should feel guilty about, my reading list has grown in leaps and bounds. March was a particularly good reading month. Here’s the list:

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

I almost didn’t read this book, which would have been too bad, as it turned about to be a really great read – strong characters (Po is my fav), a plot that evades all the usual fantasy tropes while, at the same time, is relatively traditional, and above all, a good story. A book like this goes to show, in my opinion, that a good story is a good story is a good story.

2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

Oh, how I adored this book! What I really loved is the risks Ms. Rosoff takes with her story telling. Much of the novel is told through run-on sentences, which gives the story a breathless quality, as if the narrator (Daisy) is afraid that if she stops to take a breath, she might not have the courage to continue with the tale. A gutsy, raw, bittersweet read.

3. Beyond This Dark House by Gabriel Guy Kay.

Hmmm. At first, I loved this book of poetry, but as I got further and further in, I found that the poems took on a uniform tone, and that I became very aware of the author’s presence. For me, that’s not a good thing, because it puts a barrier between me and the poetry. That doesn’t mean that some of the imagery in the poetry wasn’t startling and moving, but by the end, the book felt like too much of a good thing.

4. What I Was by Meg Rosoff.

After reading How I Live Now, I was hungry for another Rosoff novel. I found that I didn’t engage with this as much as How I Live Now, but it’s still a beautifully told tale, bittersweet and strange.

5. I Will Ask for Birds by Kelly Parsons.

Oh, how I loved this book. Some of you might remember me writing about my sadness when I learned the author recently passed away, and I still feel that sadness. I spend a lot of time thinking about poetry because it’s an art form that I love, and developing my poetic voice (whatever that really means) is a constant struggle of mine. I find that poetry illuminates the weaknesses in my writing like nothing else, which is actually a very good thing, because then I can identify what I need to work on (or, explore – weakness isn’t always a bad thing, I think).

Anyhow, I value clarity – clarity in music, clarity in poetry, clarity in all things. Clarity is difficult, because it’s easy to hide behind a myriad of notes or words, but to reduce things to their absolute essence requires such vulnerability and risk. Singers often talk about “singing naked”, and this book is full of naked poetry – poetry that doesn’t hide, and because of that, is so clear and startling, as if the poetry brings the world into greater focus.

This book holds the sort of poetry I wish I could write.

6. Bogchild by Siobhan Dowd.

Another book by an author who left this world too soon. This book wasn’t what I was expecting – the title spoke of weirdness and strangeness, and what this book turned out to be was honest and simple, a tale of a boy in Ireland during the Troubles, trying to make sense of his world which his brother is on a hunger strike and bombs are going off. I’m not sure the story of the bog child always feels integrated into the story, but it’s an enjoyable read, nonetheless.

7. Basic Training for the Young Horse by Reiner Klimke.

Ah, this book reinforced many of the things I believe about riding and art and life.

8. Fibroid Tumors and Endometriosis by Susan M. Lark.

There’s a lot of good general information about women’s health in this book. Plus, it recommends kale. Kale is growing on me. *sigh*

And, finally:

9. The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser.

Ted Kooser is another naked poet, and this was a great little book that provided food for thought about a whole host of things – I love books that do that. You think you’ll learn something more about poetry when you sit down with it, and then, surprise surprise, you actually learn something more about life.

And thus ends this long post about books. So, now, tell me about something you’ve read that you’ve enjoyed. Share the book-love!

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