Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A Book List
Do books bother you? I mean do they call to you, tap you on the shoulder, pull at your hemline like a toddler with sticky fingers? Do they send out sneering stares when you aren't reading them? To me, a stack of books can be like a boiling pot of water. The bubbles just roil and roll until you tend to the pan with pasta, or cereal, or just by turning down the fire. My office has a stack of books like a hot pan that is bugging me. I am hurrying but reading takes time--and some quiet for escape and concentration!
The book club is sending me their suggestions for next year right now. Oh, some look so good! But I can not think about them yet. We will study the list together and then weed it down to a manageable ballot for voting. That always takes us a lot of talk to reduce the first big list down to a ballot. We will do that the first week in April, but we will also discuss Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout. I fear my pals might not care for this book. I loved it! I read it once and then re-read it again this last week for book club. Olive puts me in the mind of Maxine of greeting card fame. She can be quite hateful and wicked in her remarks. But that is the reason I like this character. She is the best and worst of us all; none of us are entirely one side of the coin. Olive was a teacher in her life's work and yep, she scared some students and some hated her. Yet there were some who really "heard" her and learned life lessons as well as math. If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, give it a shot. I love Stout's presentation of Olive and her community in mini stories as opposed to chapters. I wish I could write so well!
I have also read Noah's Compass already for May book club. This is a novel by Anne Tyler, an author who writes in a very understated style. At first, I wondered if the story would ever go anywhere as it seemed to limp along in the first chapters. While the book never takes off to be a road burner, the story unfolds gently to leave the reader with a lot to think about. It was a pleasant and worthwhile read for sure.
Now I am reading three books at once. I try not to do this, but sometimes I just fall into to books and can't choose between them so I start them all. It is like looking at a menu in a nice restaurant. How do you decide between luscious and healthy salads, interesting ethnic entrees, or delicious specialties of the house? Well, you can't eat them all at once, but you can read bits and pieces from good books a little along.
I can not remember how I found the poet Anita Skeen, but I ordered her book Never the Whole Story. I like poems that have lots of emotion, many visual details, are about everyday experiences or feelings. Some of Skeen's poems have that lovely slice of life feel of Jane Kenyon's work. Listen as she captures the essence of buttons from her poem about the Button Bag. Can't you just feel these buttons?
They have all been somewhere, thumbed by someone.
Shoved through a woolen hole, slipped from a silk slit.
I am also reading about poetry in Disguised as a Poem by Judith Tannenbaum. This is non-fiction about the author's teaching poetry in San Quentin during the 1980's. She is honest that she learned as much as she taught. I think I would like to be involved in a program such as this Arts in the Prison one.
Also on my reading table is The Enemy Among Us by David Fiedler. This is also non-fiction about the POWs in Missouri during World War II. I live right between two of the busiest camps that were in the state. Another was south of St. Genevieve. It is so interesting how the POWs fit into Missouri life, what they left here in the way of cultural exchange. Did you realize Missouri had POW camps? There were a total of 400,000 POW housed in the United States during the war years.
Rain is in the forecast so maybe I can weed my way through these books as there is a whole other stack in the closet that are new titles waiting for attention. I can hear them begin to moan and cry for me!