March Book Log

April 18, 2016

1. Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman (3/5) – This was, obviously, a Simone read. Fun and silly.

2. Parallax and Selected Poems by Sinead Morrissey (5/5) – One of the best books of poetry I’ve read lately. It was a bookstore find (thanks Carmichael’s). Morrissey’s work affirms for me that I prefer Irish poets whenever I can get them. I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of American culture.

3. Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon (5/5) – This was recommended by Cate. It’s a wonderful collection of poetry about trying to find a new place and what to do with it when you find it.

4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (5/5) – A re-read I taught in my AP class. This was our “big” book for the year. it’s always a great read and I continue to be impressed at the delicate construction of this book. Every piece is perfectly in place. I’ve read it four times now and I’ve yet to find a flaw.

5. The Door by Magda Szabo (5/5) – Another bookstore find – this one from a couple of months ago. The Door is a masterpiece of symbolism. It is an achingly sad book, and to talk too much about it would give it away. Let me say, rather, that no matter how much you may doubt it while reading, this work more than delivers on its promise.

6. Meadowlands by Louise Glück (5/5) – I can’t get over Louise Glück. Her work is very nearly perfect and this was no exception. This collection felt almost swampy to me. Fecund and fertile.

7. Everland by Rebecca Hunt (4.5/5) – I must have almost picked this book up four or five times. I was quite pleased with it. I’ve had a minor penchant for polar adventure stories lately and this fits the bill. The writing is also very good with two story lines woven together effectively.

8. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (2/5) – Probably my least favorite book of those I’ve read to Simone. Pointless in its silliness unlike most Roald Dahl. I wonder if this book would be forgotten had it not gotten its own movie. Even Simone was confused at it.

9. The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake by Breece D’J Pancake (5/5)  These stories are beyond fantastic. I’d never heard of Pancake before. But he truly does stand with Hemingway in many important ways. His detail is honest and his characters demand attention though they are always the kinds of people who get the least of it.

February Book Log

April 5, 2016

Somehow, it got to be mid-March and I realized I’d forgotten to do this, and then the second half of March was absurd and well, here we are. Better late than never.

1. Disorder by Vanesha Pravin (4/5) – I’ve been reading a lot of poetry lately and this is a little volume I picked up at the local bookstore. It’s best moments are fabulous even if it does get just  touch self-important in places. There are some poems in here I’ll probably end up teaching eventually.

2. Travels with a Donkey by Robert Louis Stevenson (4/5) – A solid and completely amusing little memoir about walking through France with (you guessed it) a Donkey. Stevenson has a good sense of humor about everything and avoids the crotchetiness that affects some travel writers.

3. Winter in the Blood by James Welch (5/5) – This was strongly recommended to me by a student in my AP literature class who read it as part of her reading requirement for me. It’s great. Wonderful use of stream of consciousness by a Native American writer I’d never heard of before.

4. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (4/5) – The first in Mantel’s trilogy. This book got a lot of attention. It won the Booker and all that. I found it didn’t quite live up to the hype. It was good and Thomas Cromwell’s character was really interesting, but it could have been trimmed down a bit without losing anything.

5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (4/5) – As is normal for a kid her age, Simone likes to reread books. I try to put her off at times because I can only stand to read the same thing so many time. Anyway, we were due for a reread of this one, and it was pretty fun.

6. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (3/5) – Another Simone read (obviously). Amusing, if insubstantial. Certainly no Matilda.

7. Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs (4/5) – This book was recommended by a friend. I’d never read any Burroughs, though obviously I’d heard of him. I found this book interesting, often enjoyable, and at time a little cringe-inducing. He does not pull any punches at all. A worthy read and genuinely funny at time.