Tag Archives: read it

Five Great Poetry Books!

Are you a fan of poetry books? They are my very favorite when I need to mix things up between lengthy novels and dense nonfiction! I love how the language bounces around the page each in their own unique way and they’re so much fun to read out loud.

Here are 5 of my favorites…

Babel by Barbara Hamby

Hamby’s poems drift across histories and continents, from early writing and culture in Mesopotamia through the motion-picture heaven that seems so much like Paris, to odes on such thoroughly American subjects as hardware stores, bubblegum, barbecue, and sharp-tongued cocktail waitresses giving mandatory pre-date quizzes to lawyers and “orangutans in the guise of men.”

Favorite poems: Vex Me, The Tawdry Masks of Women, and Ode on My Mother’s Handwriting.

 

Skid by Dean Young

 In Skid, Young’s fifth book of poems, social outrage vies with comic excess. He embraces the autobiographical urge with fury and musically lush exclamations. Whether through the dark facts of mortality or the celebratory surprises of the imagination, these poems proclaim vitality and alertness, wasting nothing. Young’s poems reveal his faith in the genius of calamity and the redemptive power of fun.

Favorite poems: Sources of the Delaware, Whale Watch, and Troy, Indiana.

 

Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson

Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson’s aunt Jane, who was murdered in 1969 while a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders in the area between 1967 and 1969. Nelson was born a few years after Jane’s death, and the narrative is suffused with the long shadow her murder cast over both the family and her psyche.

Favorite poems: Phil’s Photos, Serials, and The Burn.

 

Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney

The poems in Nikky Finney’s Head Off & Split sustain a sensitive and intense dialogue with emblematic figures and events in African American life: from civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, from a brazen girl strung out on lightning to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina. 

Favorite poems: Red Velvet, Thunderbolt of Jove, and Segregation, Forever.

 

New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

In New Collected Poems, Berry reprints the nearly two hundred pieces in Collected Poems, along with the poems from his most recent collections―Entries, Given, and Leavings―to create an expanded collection, showcasing the work of a man heralded by The Baltimore Sun as “a sophisticated, philosophical poet in the line descending from Emerson and Thoreau . . . a major poet of our time.”

Favorite poems: Planting Trees, The Dance, A Poem of Thanks and The Country of Marriage.

P.S. Bonus: Found Footage by Maggie Woodward is a newly found fave written by a dear friend. You should check it out, too!

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Five Great Graphic Novels!

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Are you a fan of graphic novels? They are my very favorite when it comes to one-sitting reads! I love how much the illustrations add to the overall story and you can really hear the characters speaking their conversation-bubble-dialogue.

Here are 5 of my favorites…

embroideriesEmbroideries by Marjane Satrapi

From the author of “Persepolis” comes this gloriously entertaining and enlightening look into the sex lives of Iranian women. Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough–talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. 

The experiences of the women Satrapi brings to the table will seem equal parts relatable and foreign. Their stories of love and sex range from macabre and heart-breaking too irreverent and funny.

 

dotter-of-her-fathers-eyesDotter of her Father’s Eyes by Mary and Bryan Talbot

Part personal history, part biography, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes contrasts two coming of age narratives: that of Lucia, the daughter of James Joyce, and that of author Mary Talbot, daughter of the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton.

The dual narratives interact in compelling ways –Mary’s post WW II life in England juxtaposed with the Joyce family’s 1920s Paris avante guard experiences, and the complex family relationships that unfold in both.

 

cancer-vixen

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

In vivid color and with a taboo-breaking sense of humor, Marchetto tells the story of her eleven-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer—from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between.

Instead of writing another cancer memoir, Marchetto turned to cartooning. The result is an honest and engaging read, while the illustrations capture emotions in pitch-perfect form.

 

shortcomingsShortcomings by Adrian Tomine

Shortcomings is the story of Ben Tanaka, a Japanese American male in his late twenties, and his cross-country search for contentment (or at least the perfect girl). Along the way, Tomine tackles modern culture, sexual mores, and racial politics with brutal honesty and lacerating, irreverent humor, while deftly bringing to life a cast of painfully real antihero characters.

Tomine’s art is amazing, as is his deft portrayal of identity politics as his characters grapple with stereotypes and self-imposed expectations.

 

cant-we-talk-about-something-more-pleasantCan’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents. It’s a memoir as rife with laughs as it is with tears, both comfort and comic relief.

I picked this book up to flick through in a book store and then READ THE WHOLE THING RIGHT THERE. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

P.S. On my list for future reads: Pedro and Me, Flora & Ulysses, and This One Summer.

Books to Read This Fall

Mourning those Summer months? Me either! I’m too excited about wrapping up, burrito-style, in a fluffy blanket with a good book and something pumpkin spice close at hand.

But for real, what better reason than a temperature turn-down to share a few favorite books I think would be perfect for your Fall reading list.

So, in the midst of all your other autumnal activities (Think: swapping out all your flip flops for riding boots and Snapchatting from the pumpkin patch.) — here are 5 books to read this Fall…

bossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s book is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on SNL, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.

There’s always something to be learned from the life experiences of fascinating (and funny!) people. This book provides a peek into the worlds of improv, SNL, and 30 Rock–all with Fey’s famous humor.

 

the-painter-from-shanghaiThe Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River, through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China teetering on the brink of revolution: this is the epic story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.

Historical fiction so researched and rich in details that you will find yourself completely immersed in another time and place.

 

 

a-secret-kept A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories.

A French family, a fascinating story, and an unraveling secret at the heart of it all that will keep you reading well past your bedtime. Beware: you may finish de Rosnay’s mystery novel in one go!

 

 

the-namesakeThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. Son, Gogol Ganguli, knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.’

Rather than follow a plot, this book follows a life. The resulting prose is breathtaking in it’s beauty.

 

behind-the-beautiful-foreversBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

In this book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport. Based on years of uncompromising reporting, it carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

True to the style of “embedded journalism,” Boo embedded herself in a slum so readers could see, hear, and understand the residents and their challenges.

 

What are YOU reading this Fall? Share below! 

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A Random Read

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Today, I’d love to kick off a week where we discuss all things book-related. Whatta ya say? Are you in?

So, I just finished this Hoda Kotb book and I gotta say, it was a complete impulse purchase. Not to say it’s TOTALLY outside the range of something I would normally read…because, well, under the right circumstances I’d read almost anything. But, other than a slight affinity for the drunken antics of the Today Show’s fourth hour, it IS a pretty random selection. Sometimes I just start reading something in the store or online (Damn you Amazon’s read the first few pages option!!) and then think “Welp, I gotta see this through so I’m either gonna live on this Half Price Books aisle for the next day or so or this puppy’s comin’ home with me.”

This is why I normally just stick to libraries.

Anyways, it was a pretty inspirational read so I thought I’d let y’all know a bit more about it!

A break-down of the book…

In Ten Years Later, Hoda looks at 6 life-changing moments experienced by 6 different people. She then returns a decade later to find out; where are they now? From an athlete suffering chronic seizures to a drug-addicted TV producer, each faced obstacles many would describe as insurmountable. Yet each managed, somehow, to set their life’s course headed in a positive direction. Their stories are incredible and powerful. Their lives reaffirm the idea that resilience and strength can come from adversity.

And each outcome speaks to my personal belief that when you’re face-down on the pavement…there’s nowhere left to fall.

Read if you enjoy…

…the heartwarming segments on news shows like 60 Minutes and Dateline.

In which I imagine a hypothetical situation that would be especially conducive for this read…

Your return flight from a 3-day business trip has been delayed and you have 8 hours to kill before any hope of finding your way onto a plane. You stop by the book shop and pick up this paperback. You make your way to a restaurant where you settle into a booth tucked in the corner. Proceed to order 2-3 glasses of wine because you suspect that’s what Hoda would WANT you to do. Your flight delay situation will start to look a WHOLE lot better stacked up against tongue cancer, trust me. (#Perspective) And hey, all the stories come with happy endings so there’s hope for you yet! (#SpoilerAlert)

Are you reading anything good right now? Ever impulse buy a book that surprised you?

Books to read if you’re in search of a history lesson…

In the final few weeks of wedding planning, my normally voracious appetite for reading books came to a squeaking halt. I packed The Devil in the White City with every good intention of diving in. Needless to say, it sat untouched in my backpack until Chet and I landed safely back in Miami. But once the post-wedding exhaustion wore off, and routines re-appeared, I couldn’t put this bad boy down. If you’re in search of a fascinating history lesson (along with a tale of a devious serial killer), I couldn’t recommend this book enough. And here are 4 other books that serve up a dose of history as well…

the devil in the white cityThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson 

Erik Larson intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

A real peak into what life was like in America broadly, and the infamous “White City” specifically, as the 19th century drew to a fitful close.

 

the immortal life of henrietta lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. This phenomenal bestseller tells the story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine.

Maps the grandiose history of modern science as well as the intimate history of an unknowing contribution.

 

the girls who went away

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

In this deeply moving and myth-shattering work, Ann Fessler brings out into the open the astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade.

Examines the shame of getting pregnant in post-WW II USA, the lack of options and education women faced, and the agencies who profited from the results.

 

a walk in the woods

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
The Appalachian Trail trail  covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. Bill Bryson introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the hardy folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears.

Hiking provides the backdrop to a sincere discourse on the social condition of America, local history, and environmental science.

 

 

the warmth of other suns The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson 

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

Compiling over 10 years of research in more than 600 pages, this book takes on the biggest under-reported story of the twentieth century utilizing 1,200 interviews conducted personally by Wilkerson.

What books would YOU recommend for us history-lovin’ folk? Share below! 

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