Beauty, Peace and Content

The three goals of the Blue Cat of Castle Town.

Beauty is the easiest you just have to look and see and be prepared to see what’s around you and seek beauty.

Of course the more content you are the easier it is to see beauty. Contentment is a hard thing to reach with a world that moves so fast. Advertising tells us to buy, buy, buy. That new and shiny will make us happier. When it is much more being content with what you have.

Peace is something I have been working on with contentment. I have a very active brain that often dwells on things. I grew up in New Jersey which is one of the least contended places in America. Everyone is striving, everyone is trying to do better, get richer, go faster. Well maybe not everyone but there is a lot of Arunah Hydes out there. Seeing the world as a chance for money, power and fame.

Peace is also to me harder with just the car, and the basic noises of modern life. We live with a lot of background noise. Tvs that are on, radios in the car, and all of the noises cars produce and roads. It’s amazing how much easier it is to feel peaceful in the woods away from all those cars, pavement and noise.

Beauty, Peace and Contentment great goals to have.

“The Blue Cat of Castle Town” really needs to go back in print. It is available though for free online and for a dollar on Kindle. Enjoy!

Going Gray

I am 38 now. I am going gray slowly all the time. I have been looking forward to it for a while. And I like how it looks.

It’s not so easy for women. There is a huge amount of money and a huge culture about dying hair. And to me gray is sexy. Look at someone like Emmylou Harris who looks fabulous with gray, Helen Mirren gorgeous, Judi Dench beautiful. But if you look at pictures of people looking good with gray hair, it’s usually men in the media. Even at a site called “Silverfoxes” it’s still 2 to 1 men.

Anne Kreamer in her book “Going Gray” talks about all the politics, media, and money in dying hair. There is literally billions of dollars spent. And in a lot of industries, it’s considered standard to dye hair. Despite the fact that there is an artificiality to it. And if you look at the back cover Ms. Kreamer looks FAR better with some gray hair. Fabulous vs. dowdy.

It’s just one of those things changed by advertising. And a very interesting book. ***1/2 (pg 138 of 206) (Warren PL/Westbrook, Me). Fyi, Westbrook used to have the Warren and Walker Libraries. The Warren library had private funding from the SD Warren paper mill (now Sappi) unfortunately it closed a few years ago and it’s collection is now part of Walker Library which is the public library in Westbrook, Me where I live.

Books finished this week:

Maine Poems by Richard Berhart: A poetry collection where I could tell the imagery was pretty but it mainly left me cold. I really enjoyed the long poem “Sea Storm” which pushed this to **1/2. I think Berhart would be a solid short story writer. (Warren PL)

Shakespeare Wrote For Money by Nick Hornby: A collection of Nick Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns from the monthly “Believer” magazine from August, 2006 to September, 2008. Includes some off months, and one “Stuff I’ve Been Watching.” Good stuff, so far have checked out one book from his suggestions the YA book Skellig which I will talk about later. Without question this column inspired my weekly blogpost. Thank you, Mr. Hornby. ***1/2 (Baxter Memorial Library/Gorham, ME/Minerva)

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler: Easily the most fun book I read all week. I am lucky to be in a job at a call center where I can read while it’s slow. First person fiction is very dependent on a great central character and Virginia Shreve is a wonderful character. Just enjoyable, and anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will enjoy it. ***1/2 (Kindle) I think if you are a teenaged outcast would probably be ****. Good stuff.

More Kindle stuff:

The Magic Kingdom by Stanley Elkin: Very British so far. Elkin also has some absurdly long 50 word plus sentances. Enjoying the story about the dad who gave extraordinary measures for his son, who wonders if the sick should just have fun. Looking forward to where this is going. This is definitely not a book for everyone. 8%

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: I have been reading this in pieces for a long, long time. Interesting stuff, not sure why I keep being distracted. Probably just my reading ADD. And you could also argue the book tries to do too much. Curious to see where it all falls. 48% ***

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Breezed through it one homeroom in high school. Ie quick skim. Enjoying it now. Steinbeck is one of the great American writers who deserves the honor. 16%

Really the Earth … dominated my reading on the Kindle this week.

Other stuff. Library +

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: Someone at the call center let me borrow this. Don’t think I read it in school. Pretty decent. *** pg 60 of 195

Honey and Salt by Carl Sandburg: Good stuff, nowhere near as amazing as the great “Chicago Poems.” This came out in 1953, Chicago Poems in 1916. Sometimes being young and loud is a good thing. *** (Warren ML)

Ballistics by Billy Collins: Solid book of poetry. I think I am liking this the best of the Billy Collins book I am reading. *** 1/2 (pg 60 of 110) (Patten Free Library, Bath, ME/Minerva)

Skellig by David Almond: Recommended by Hornby’s “Shakespeare” book. Good stuff so far, Nick Hornby is right the immediacy of young adult fiction is just wonderful. ***1/2 (pg 34 of 182)

The Town of No by Wesley McNair: Good stuff, that I am going through too slowly. I have a lot of poetry checked out right now. pg 32 of 85 (Warren PL)

Nine Horses by Billy Collins: Another solid book of Collins poetry. “The Trouble with Poetry” is still my favorite Collins book. pg 77 of 120 (Walker PL)

Convinced my wife to buy “Gender Outlaws”(not on Kindle) and get “Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” on the Kindle. Didn’t read much of it this week. But, it’s great stuff.

Questions About Angels by Billy Collins: I will finish a Billy Collins poetry book this week. I will finish… pg 56 of 91. Probably the weakest of the Collins book I am reading but still ***.

So that’s it. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is a lot of Fun” and Nick Hornby’s “Believer” columns are just awesome. I hope other authors, writers do similar things. I can’t imagine this is the only “What I Am Reading” style post on the blogosphere.

Edmund

Olympic Fleas

Haven’t done a lot of reading this week and the last 2 weeks. The reason, the Olympics and fleas. And of course Olympic fleas are really into the jumping events, and of course having fun in the Olympic village to make more fleas.

Last week’s post was about the last book I finished “Jerusalem” by Guy Delisle as well as touching on Joe Sacco’s two great books on Palestine/Israel: “Palestine” and “Footnotes in Gaza.”  Jerusalem was an excellent book. ****

Throttle by Joe Hill and Stephen King: Very cool that this father and son came together to write a tribute to Richard Matheson’s “Duel”. Definitely prefer the Stephen Spielberg movie to this short. Something was very, very spare about the movie (****) that I didn’t get in the book. Also didn’t love the ending. *** I may have the strangest list of Stephen King books that I have read: Throttle, Mile 81, Blockade Billy, The Tom Gordon pop-up book and the Montana Kid.

So in 2 weeks, that’s all I finished which if you read these on Fridays you know is very, very little.  And both “Throttle” and “Jerusalem” I finished last week.

But I have read little bits of a ton of books:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien: loving this so far, not sure why I am not engaging it harder (my guess is the Olympic Fleas) 31%

Moby Dick by Herman Melville: I think I will get through this whale of a story a chapter or two at a time so it will revisit my #FridayReads posts a lot. 16%

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler: Yep, literally went from Moby Dick to this. I like to read chick lit on my Kindle sometimes, including young adult. Lots of fun so far, hit my brainpower better tonight so far. *** 11%

Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and The End of France by Michael Sternberger: Depressing thesis that French food isn’t what it once was. That the French are eating faster like Americans and chefs are using premade cheats again like Americans. Hopefully this doesn’t mean French cuisine turns to Applebee’s … shudder. 10%

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman) Excellent compilation of writings by genderqueers and transsexuals. Often hilarious, often makes you think, great stuff. Even includes a cartoon by a Facebook friend, Katie Diamond. Now I want to read the original Gender Outlaws and learn more about gender studies. ***1/2 pg 54 of 302 and lots of pieces after this.

Ballistics by Billy Collins: I think it’s really better to read one book by a poet at a time. I have too much Billy Collins out of the library I think. The books are flowing together. pg. 19 of 112

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: YA book about being stranded that a co-worker strongly recommended. Was buried for a while but reading through it. Good stuff. *** (pg 61 of 195)

The Town of No by Wesley McNair: Good stuff from a Maine poet. pg 24 of 85

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: After reading “Bradbury Speaks” I may have hit my fill of Ray Bradbury essays. Good stuff but too soon. Some browsing around and pg 4 of 174.

The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen: Heard about this book somewhere in the Social Media megaverse and intrigued by it. Money does make things easier, revolting from it is a radical step. Interesting so far, makes you think about what it means to be human in a way. pg. 18 of 260

Slam by Nick Hornby: Recommended by Book Riot. Not sure how far I will get with this YA Nick Hornby. As much as I love “Fever Pitch” and “High Fidelity”, I haven’t really got into other Nick Hornby fiction. Even though he helped me get the idea for this #FridayReads post. pg 6 of 309

Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby: His book “The Polysyllabic Spree” inspired this column (I have a signed copy from my days in NYC (Housing Works Bookstore). Interesting stuff so far, read a few months of it. Interestingly in September 2006 he read no books with the World Cup (France?). I think this is similar to my Olympic/Flea experience. pg 38 of 131 (and the last essay)

Questions About Angels: Poems by Billy Collins: More poems by Billy Collins on pg 44 of 91 (I told you I checked too much out at once).

Click: One Novel, Ten Authors by David Almond, et al: Interesting experiment, first chapter seems a little boring, wondering if I will get through this one. pg 4 of 217

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (ed by Billy Collins): Not bad, but too diverse for my taste. Feel similar about most poetry compendiums. One of the reasons I find “Agreeable Friends: Contemporary Animal Poetry” ed. by Alice Persons so great.

Nine Horses by Billy Collins: Yet more Billy Collins, more contemporary than some of the other books and probably the strongest book of the group. pg 48 of 120

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: Not as good as “Confessions of a Shopaholic” but fun. pg 53 of 417

Going Gray … by Anne Kreamer: pg 68 of 206. Good stuff, but dragging a little for me. Will see how it goes.

Books likeliest to finish this week. “Questions About Angels”, “The Earth, My Butt.”, maybe “Nine Horses” and probably something else not on this list.

I guess I read a little of a lot of books this fortnight. Still feeling like I should finish more books but so it goes.

Tackling Moby Dick

The White Whale
Levithan
Massive book
Heavy
Huge
Full of metaphor.

Moby Dick is one of those books you are supposed to read, that most of us haven’t. Sometimes even if it was assigned.

I know it’s one I attempted a few times and didn’t get too far with.

But getting going in Herman Melville’s classic, especially since I can read it on Kindle without the wait. Enjoying the Oxford Classics edition with excellent footnotes of acquainted terms.

I am still in New Bedford, Massachussets, and now want to visit that capital of New England whaling that hit it’s peak a century and a half ago.

Beautiful book, crazy metaphors, lots of description. I am letting it wash over me like salt water on the beach.

It’s leviathan, I am just trying to read it a little bit at a time, and let Melville’s metaphors come in slowly.

Thar she blows.

Essays

Essays. Not a word that most of us associate with happiness.

My first association is with school the terrible five paragraph essay we are taught in high school. Opening paragraph, 3 body paragraphs, a conclusion. As any English teacher can tell you, it’s not a format that brings creativity or great writing.

So why talk about essays today for my #FridayReads post.

Two words: Ray Bradbury. I finally finished his ramblings and often amazing book of essays: Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars. In particular his essays on Los Angeles, writing and trains stood out. His was a wonderful life, and all that have been blessed to read his work are thankful. ***1/2

I also enjoy short pieces. Some can be really fascinating like “Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Sometimes short pieces can say more in a few pages, then a lot of books say in 300-500 pages. This collection about what it means to be transgendered or genderqueer, says a lot about how gender isn’t a binary. And it’s just funny, often hilarious. And includes essays, performance pieces, graphic work … Great stuff. ***1/2 (reading in random order like I do for many collections including Bradbury Speaks.)

Also read a few of Thomas Wolfe’s essays in his collection “Hooking Up.” My favorite involved a sculptor whose beautiful work was ignored by the establishment but LOVED by the public. Not a bad collection, but nowhere near as good as his two short non-fiction classics which are: “From Bauhaus to Our House ****” about how the Bauhaus movement changed architecture, I agree with Wolfe for the worse. And “The Spoken Word ****” about how art critics drive art not the other way around.

I also think Kindle is a fine place for short non-fiction. I have enjoyed “Comic-Con Strikes Again” as a Kindle Single about the madness that is San Diego Comic-Con. SDCC sounds more fun on the outside, then the inside to me. The reality of it sounds exhausting. I also downloaded “In Praise of Hangovers” by Evan Rail today, which is fun so far and about the day after of a big night out. Only 17% in but it’s *** so far.

Essays can be fun and are done well in places like “Foreign Affairs”, “Harper’s”, “The Atlantic”, etc. And I think the Kindle provides a new place for them to be loved.

Finished this week:

A Fine, Safe Journey: Poems About Haying and Other Matters by Edward J. Reilly: Short chapbook with a long title about growing up in a Wisconsin Dairy Farm. Solid little chapbook, by a fellow Westbrook, Maine poet. **1/2

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown: The perfect gift for geek dads everywhere. Very fun for any Star Wars geek to see Darth Vader raise Luke Skywalker as a little boy and have minor hijinks. Great references to Star Wars for any fan from casual to epic. ***1/2

Agreeable Friends: Contemporary Animal Poetry edited by Alice Persons: Marvelous book of poetry about animals I talked a lot about last week. Highly recommended and a great way to learn about some marvelous poets mostly in Maine. ***1/2

Who are We Now? by Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Wonderful book of poetry, didn’t affect me as much as “A Coney Island of the Mind” but I need to read more of this City Lights creator. Amazing how long it took me to read Ferlinghetti, as a long time fan of the beats. ***1/2

Reading:

The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miler and Lynn Varley: Short graphic novel, disappointing so far. Seems unnecessary with the rich history of Miller’s Dark Knight series. ** pg 32 of 77

The First Four Books of Poems by Louise Gluck: An edition of Gluck’s first four poetry books (Firstborn, The House on Marshland, Descending Figure and The Triumph of Achilles). I loved her book “Ararat” and have read about 20-30 poems so far (of course out of order), looking forward to this one a lot. I like that’s it’s complete books of Gluck instead of “Selected Poems,” I think that a book shows the entirety of a poet at the time in the way a selection can’t. ***

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is one of my favorite guilty pleasure books. I also liked “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan.” Like mother, like daughter in this tale of a spendthrift toddler with a spendthrift money. Some people aren’t meant to have credit cards, myself included unfortunately. pg. 32 of 420 ***

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: I browsed through this one homeroom in high school and it looked fun. My first time to read this Steinbeck masterpieces about Lennie and George. My Lenny (ie my cat) said I should read it. Honestly it’s just one of those books that’s been on my list a long, long time. Excellent so far. 13%

Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel: So far I like this better then her seminal “Fun Home.” Seems more positive and more complicated. In a many ways Bechdel seemed sorry for her dad and his double life, Bechdel’s relationship with her mother is more complicated. Good stuff. ***1/2 (could easily go to ****) pg. 72 of 290

Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society edited by Bill Bryson: Good stuff about one of the most amazing societies of science in the world the Royal Society of London. Very curious what I will learn. Just got this today for $1.99 on the Kindle. 4%

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Another one of those books I always meant to read. I think I got a few chapters in a few times but got distracted (shocking I know). 9% of the way in and seems fantastic so far, yet I am reading tons of other stuff at the same time. I want to spend an afternoon and just get into the world of Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins. ****

The Illustrated Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: 57% in. Read this is bits and pieces. One of my favorite books growing up. Another one I should really find time to stick my teeth into. ***1/2

Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life by John C. Bogle: Good book about it’s more important to have enough than everything. The greed culture of Wall Street has made a lot of people rich and done lots of harm. Very apropos reading in this time of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. 39%

Moby Dick (Oxford World’s Classics) by Herman Melville: Another life list book. Unbelievable amount of whale quotes to start the book, I don’t know if that’s the book or the Oxford edition. After reading “Bradbury Speaks” which references Moby Dick several times, Ray Bradbury wrote a Moby Dick screenplay for John Huston, I want to try again. 8%

So many books, so little time. Read on!

Edmund

My wrist hurts

Tried out my in-laws silent scott and mowed her little lawn today.

It felt good on my arms, but I think I will have to avoid some bumps because my wrist didn’t like it at all.

So a shorter piece today for my #FridayReads.

Have only finished one book this week. Which was the insane tale that Brew Davis wrote of his wife Jennifer Pharr Davis finishing the Applachian Trail in 46 days. And setting a new record. It’s called “46 Days: Keeping Up with Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail.”

It definitely takes a LOT of help to do such a record. Ms. Davis has to travel light and have people help her along the way. The Applachian Trail is definitely an interest of mine, and I do want to do some section hiking sometime. However, I can’t imagine doing 50 mile+ days and hiking for a month and a half from 5am-10pm like Ms. Davis did. Good stuff. ***1/2

Read a lot of bits of things as is my nature.

Maine Poems by Richard Bernhardt: pg. 8 of 58. Pretty good so far.

Agreeable Friends: Contemporay Animal Poetry (Alice Persons, Editor): Yet another wonderful compliation by Maine’s own Moon Pie Press. Excellent stuff from 51 different poets. Moon Pie Press is an excellent company and look for them out there if you like poetry. pg. 70 of 113 but have read ahead a lot and in random order as I am apt to do. ***1/2

Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe: Interesting essays, some better than others. Nothing compared to his awesome “The Painted Word” and “From Bauhaus to Our House.” I like Wolfe’s non-fiction better than his fiction. *** Have read a few essays did really like “The Invisible Artist.”

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (ed. by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman): I have been fascinated by genderqueers for a long time. Gender is not a bipolar thing, and I love all that can come out as they are. Read a couple essays so far including my Maine’s own Katie Diamond (who I am Facebook friends with) and looking forward to this one a lot.

Who Are We Now? by Lawrence Ferlinghetti: pg 44 of 66. I may finish this one tonight. Was very pleasant to read this while watching my mother-in-law’s kitty and hearing the next door neighbors yapping outside. Not as great as “Coney Island of the Mind” but still wonderful. ***1/2

Bradbury Speaks … by Ray Bradbury: Good stuff. Essays from Ray Bradbury about lots of topics. Loved his LA essays and “Hysteria, Goddess of Flight..” about finally flying for the first time. ***

Going Gray… by Anne Kreamer: Very cool book about the stigmas of going gray in America. Personally I think Ms. Kreamer looks foxy gray, and I look forward to my gray continuing to come in. pg. 20 of 206

Westbrook College Campus by Joyce K. Bibber: Part of the “Campus History Series” from Arcadia Publishing. Interesting pictures of a campus that has been seminary, junior college and part of a larger college and part of 3 towns without moving: Westbrook, Deering and Portland. Would be more invested in this if I had a history with Westbrook College. Although the church I belong to Allen Avenue UU has roots on the Westbrook College campus in Portland, ME. ***

Wine From These Grapes by Edna St. Vincent Millay: Camden, Maine’s own poet. My friend Keith teased me about making a pilgramage to Camden for her gravesite and home. Pretty but not really my thing. The kind of poetry I glossed over in school before I discovered slam. Pg. 20 of 91 **1/2

Very surreal to do this while listening to a “Highlights from Evita” from a Best of Broadway CD. Explains why it felt like a long overture. Weird to hear the songs without someone singing.

City By The Sea: A Photographic History of Portland, Maine by John R. Moon: Very cool book to look through for any Mainer and how much and how little has changed in Maine in the last 100-200 years. A lot of before and after picture. Portland is lucky in how much is still there. ***1/2

Kindle time:

46 Days…
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: Re-reading a section I have already read of the Tarahumana doing the Leadville Ultramarathon. I would like to get back my running form. Of course I am over 100 pounds heavier than I was in high school. I have been reading this in pieces for a long time but excellent stuff. *** (33% — I think I was around 40-45% when my Kindle died).

and just a little smattering of other things .. Did try to start “Moby Dick” again, it’s is a great white whale of a book. Wondering if every edition starts with tons of whale quotes or just the Oxford edition I downloaded.

Read on, y’all. I guess I got to around 800 words even with a bad wrist.

Gratitude for Write Poorly

So my favorite poem I have written so far is “Write Poorly”. It’s not really close.

It even ended up in Colleen Hoover’s follow up to “Slammed”, “Point of Retreat”. I felt very grateful to have the poem in her book and also thrilled that two bloggers published the poem in full on their blogs. One was just yesterday (I would just look at the blog and not the review if you haven’t read the two excellent Colleen Hoover books.

I hope it inspires others to write. Write terribly, write awfully, write with abandon, suck and maybe be really, really good.

Here is the poem:

Inspired from a line in Ryan McLellan’s poem on Tuesday at Local Sprouts for Port Veritas.

————–

Write poorly
Suck
Write awful
Terribly
Frightfully

Don’t care
Turn off the inner editor
Let yourself write
Let it flow
Let yourself fail

Do something crazy
Write 50,000 words in the month of November
I did it.
It was fun, it was insane it was 1,667 words a day.
It was possible.

But, you have to turn off your inner critic, off, completely.
Just write.
Quickly.
In Bursts.

With joy.
If you can’t write run away for a few.
Come back.
Write again.

Writing is like anything else.
You won’t get good at it immediately.
It’s a craft you have to keep getting better.
You don’t get to Juliard, unless you practice.
If you want to get to Carnagie Hall, practice, practice, practice.
(or give them a lot of money).

Like anything else it takes 10,000 hours to get to mastery.
Just like Malcolm Gladwell says.
So write.
Fail.
Get your thoughts down.
Let it rest.
Let it marinate.
Then edit. Then edit. Then edit.

But don’t edit as you type,
that just slows the brain down.
Find a daily practice,
for me it’s blogging every day.
And it’s fun.

The more you write, the easier it gets. The more it is a flow, the less a worry. It’s not for school, it’s not for a grade, it’s just to get your thoughts out there. You know they want to come out.

So keep at it. Make it a practice. And write poorly, write awfully, write with abandon and it may end up being really, really good.

(c) 2012 – Edmund Davis-Quinn

Blessed be and feel free to post it on your own blogs.

Edmund

Books That Surprise You

Sometimes books shock you. Either by being amazing, what you don’t expect, or what you could never expect.

Never expect would be something like the bizarre genius that is Chris Ware with his very dark, isolationist, morose and brilliant graphic novels. Or something as beautiful as the best book I have read for the first time this year the amazing graphic novel “Daytripper.”

And then you have just fascinating, like something like David Simpson’s “Post Human” about what happens when we are past human and partially cyborg (and a lot of fun), or Hugh Howey’s wonderful novella “The Plagarist”, which I will just say is awesome.

Or the fact that Slaughterhouse Five is very re-readable. And just how amazing something like Cat’s Cradle is. A book where the is a whole religion created that is nothing but foma. Remember friends don’t let friends carry Ice-9.

It’s good to be surprised. Maybe the most surprised I was this year is how much I loved “Slammed.” I usually don’t go for romances and Colleen Hoover’s book just shot above what is often a formulaic genre. In that literally most books are part of the formula.

Books read in the last 2 weeks:

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut: Easily in my top 25 books of all time. I read this last year and it started me on my Vonnegut fall. Seriously amazing. If you haven’t read it you need to. And also silly, wicked silly. Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God – Bokonon. *****

The Plagarist by Hugh Howey: The first chapter didn’t really grab me. The ending made me want more, much more. Would love to see Hugh Howey do some follow-ups to this amazing little novella. ****

Lots of poetry the last 2 weeks:
West Wind by Mary Oliver: Pretty, didn’t grab me. I love how much here poetry inspires others. It doesn’t work for me. So it goes. ***

The Way of the B-Boy by Billy Tuggle: Wicked awesome chapbook. Billy Tuggle is amazing to hear live and one heck of a writer. Highly recommended. Get it if you see him. ***1/2

Gentleman Practice by Buddy Wakefield: Cool ideas. Too clever for it’s own good. Loved seeing Buddy Wakefield live, found this book disjointed and disappointing. ***

She by Saul Williams: Saul Williams is the first person that inspired me to love poetry when I saw him live at Pomona College in 2000. Beautiful to hear live, nice to read in this book. I wish my copy included the CD. ***

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins: Some gorgeous and amazing poems by Billy Collins. The title poem was in Tuesday’s post. Also love his thoughts of the window as muse for the poet. Great stuff. ***1/2

Other books read/reading:

Dr. Seuss Goes to War by Dr. Seuss and Richard H. Minear: Amazing collection of Dr. Seuss’s war editorial cartoons from the daily newspaper PM from 1941 to 1943. The cartoons are very cool, can’t get into the commentary. A great discovery for fans of Dr. Seuss. ***1/2

City by the Sea: A Photographic History of Portland, Maine by John R. Moon: Excellent work. Wonderful pictures of 19th Century Portland and modern Portland. Highly recommended about what has changed and what has stayed the same in Portland, Maine. ***1/2 (read about 2/3rds)

Bradbury Speaks by Ray Bradbury: Interesting short pieces by the science fiction master. Fascinating that he loves just writing about his passions, not about pieces he has to research. I think that makes sense for a fiction author. *** (Read about a quarter)

Agreeable Friends: Contemporary Animal Poetry (Edited by Alice Persons): Cool book of poems from various poets, mostly from Maine. Good stuff. Reading out of order and read around half. ***

46 Days: Keeping Up with Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Applachian Trail by Brew Davis and Jennifer Pharr Davis: Fun book about what is involved in a record setting attempt to finish the Applachian Trail. A lot about all the support a mission like that requires. Only person I can think who may eat more in Michael Phelps. There is no way I could hike from 5am-10pm for a month and a half. I hike slowly and look up to enjoy everything. *** 77%

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut: Starting over after reading around 10% in the past. One of the Vonnegut’s I want to read the most. 6%

The Way of the Shepard: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People by Kevin Leman and William Pentak: Good management story about how important it is to know the passions, strengths and interests of those that you manage. People aren’t sheep, and if you trust them they can wow you. *** 38%

On Masturbation by Mark Twain: Very silly and short (only 300 Kindle characters) long lost speech by Mark Twain. Illustrations help the silly. *** (100%)

So quite a few books, lots of poetry this time.

Read on!

My Favorite Books of 2012 So Far

Was thinking about talking about my favorite books in high school but I did that about a month ago.

So since we are at the halfway point of the year I thought I would talk about my favorite books of 2012 (5 stars on Goodreads) and about what has been a wonderful year for reading. I have already read 112 books this year according to Goodreads. Wow!

I have rediscovered picture books and my love of reading them both to myself and aloud, with Maurice Sendak’s incredible “Where the Wild Things Are.” *****

I have read some amazing poetry with Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind”, “Who You Are” by Nancy Henry, “Chicago Poems” by Carl Sandburg, as well as some 4 star books on Goodreads I loved like Philip Levine’s “What Work Is”, Billy Collins’ “The Trouble with Poetry”, and Louise Gluck’s “Ararat.” Here is my Goodreads on poetry for the year.

There have been a bunch of great graphic novels including my favorite book so far this year the amazing Daytripper ***** Other five star graphic novels for the year include “The Sons of Liberty: Volume 1″ and the wonderful and allegorical “Habibi.” Here are some of the graphic novels I have read on Goodreads, need to add more to this group.

I do have more 5 star books for the year including “Wool”, “Slammed”, “Point of Retreat” and “Post-Human” but I have talked about those on multiple posts already. Colleen Hoover’s friendship is definitely one of my reading highlights for the year. And I love that talented authors can self publish to the Kindle.

So it’s been a great year of reading. Look forward to finding what the next 6 months bring.

And if you have any questions on any of these books let me know.

I am probably going to add more to this post later.

So it goes…

Finished reading Slaughterhouse Five again today only about 9 months after reading it last year. Phenomenal and amazing book. If you haven’t read it yet you simply need to. One of easily my favorite books of all time. ***** Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five got me reading a TON of Kurt Vonnegut last year. I think I may take on “Mother Night” next.  I have thoughts about Slaughterhouse for people who have read the book.  If you want to see them highlight the paragraph below.

And what to think of Tralfamodoran time. What if you did know the whole your whole life and could see it all at once. What does that mean? What does it mean about free will? What does it mean about life choices? I think there are simply too many random choices that change a life to believe you can see an entire life from life to death. So it goes.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you need to. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s easily one of the most important books of the 20th Century. So it goes.

So it goes is just one of those terms that has stuck with me. This year has been tough. Walter Maheux was an amazing father, husband and father-in-law. Dot Mithee was a force of nature who weaved an amazing life. Sometime life is easy, sometimes it’s not even close. So it goes.

Next favorite book of the week is The Greenhouse by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. Fantastic book about growing up an outsider and learning a love of gardening from mom. Sometimes life gives us surprises that we can never expect. Beautiful book, may we all tend to our life’s gardens. Said more about it last week. ***1/2

Also finished:

Adirondacks, Views of An American Wilderness by Carl Heilman: Beautiful book about a beautiful place. I want to spend more time in the Adirondacks. Excited that on Wednesday I will be in Lake George. Read through this at the library on Wednesday. Much, much more pictures than text. Kind of amazed I am the only one to read it on Goodreads. ***1/2

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss: Fun, silly little book. I don’t think the junkyard owner is quite that daring. ***

Ararat by Louise Gluck: Really gorgeous book of poems. Really identified with her poems about losing a father with this tragic year. Highly recommended, I think I look for more Louise Gluck poems soon. ***1/2

The Water Gift and the Pig of the Pig by Jacqueline Briggs Martin: Lovely little picture book. ***

Lon Po Po by Ed Young: Really gorgeous watercolors in this picture book, I wished the story was as rich. **1/2

After these my reading was more scattered this week:

Started Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: Book I have been curious about for a while. Took me 2 readings before I really understood the movie. Movie ***, book potentially more for me but only on pg. 26 of 208

All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot: Enjoyed the sample on my Kindle, but feeling like this is destined to be one of the library books I start but don’t get very far with. pg 9 of 404

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear: Very cool book for anyone who grew up with Dr. Seuss. Have looked at a lot of the editorial cartoons haven’t read much of the analysis yet. This is a neat book and a time capsule of democratic thinking in 1941-1942. And most definitely Dr. Seuss’ style. ***1/2

Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far From the Stars by Ray Bradbury: Reading these essays in random order. Really love his discussion of Los Angeles. We miss you Ray.

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins: Really love Collins’ style, enjoying this book a lot. Have been reading it out of order. Looking forward to reading more from Billy Collins. ***1/2

I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho: Glad I didn’t grow up as Moran Cho, that’s a tough name. Cool that found this at a garage sale for 50 cents and it’s a signed copy, FTW! Fun read so far. *** pg. 32 of 212

Kindle time:

Slaughterhouse Five
The Greenhouse

The Complete Novels Of Mark Twain: I finished the quite short Burlesque biography. Very, very silly, quite clearly not a biography at all. Looking forward to reading more Twain.

Dirty Minds by Kayt Sukel: Wonderful book, very rich, very heavy. Really interesting book about the neuroscience of love, sex and attraction. Reading it slow a few pages or a section at a time. Up to 27%

Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves: Interesting book about what travel can teach us about the world. Slow read, not as good as I was hoping. *** 29%

My Third World Girlfriend by RJ Silver: Silly book I am re-reading. His “Princess and the Penis” is much, much funnier. 35% ***

Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey: Still stuck in a tense part of Wool 4. I love Hugh Howey, and do love Wool just have to let the conflict happen and give it some time. Maybe that’s tonight’s plan. 53%

You’re Not Fooling Anyone … by John Scalzi: Fun book on writing that is several of his posts on his blog, Whatever. I like his honesty about how he makes a good living. Guess what corporate jobs pay WAAAY better than even being a relatively famous science fiction author. Of course you also make way more money as an independent author like Hugh Howey (70% royalty on Kindle, vs. around 10% for traditional publishing.) John Scalzi is one of my wife’s favorite authors. ***1/2 23%

So that’s it for now. Somehow it got to almost 1,000 words again. So it goes.