Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer Reading List

I read multiple books at the same time, for maximum effect - although I'm not quite sure what that effect is. I like the combination and contrast of ideas and images. A barrage of poetic phrasings, unfriendly gunfire, and prose about canoes. Currently reading:

Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" got me interested in reading history again, and I found this book recently. I'm almost finished with it, and will give it to Helen when I'm done. It's a comic book style history of the United States. Brilliant. Eye-opening.

Rilke's "On Love and Other Difficulties" was a gift from a friend. I'm reading and writing comments in the margins. Lots of gems in here, but there's an offhand parenthetical about happiness not being all that important that has left me hanging. I wonder if he clarifies somewhere later in the book? I hope so.

NPR's National Story Project is now anthologized in Paul Auster's "I Thought My Father Was God," a collection of essays submitted to and aired on NPR. It's edited and organized well - the flow from one essay into another is never jumpy. Some essays are haunting, others are expected tearful goodbyes at the train. It's a book that emphasizes the important role of storytelling and memoir. One of the last essays is a nod to Paul and his good work with the project, which is good work indeed, but I thought it was a little self-serving. That's just an editorial peeve of mine.

One of my favorite poets, Margaret Atwood is best known for her novels. I always love her writing. The version of "The Door" that I purchased comes with a CD of the poet reading a few of the poems. I haven't listened to it yet. I have read the entire book through twice though. There are words in the poems that I didn't know (sedged) and phrases that last and become the first thing you think upon waking:

anything can be a saint/if you pray to it enough

Sharp-edged, cynical, reflective, confessional and humorous (some wonderful poems about being a poet and the responsibilities of being one), it's a collection worth reading many times, and then sharing.


Jodi Anderson said...

Right this very moment, X is reading a book recommended by you, "A People's History of the United States". She really likes it and, during those few moments when it gets boring for her, I remind her that this crash course in American History is much less painful that two semesters sitting in a classroom learning it (or 13 years in a classroom). :)

Talia Reed said...

I like the new pic!