A room without books is like a body without a soul. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Our Reading Lives: Confessions of a Reluctant Poetry Convert

Jun 10, 2013

I have a confession to make: I used to hate poetry. Reading poetry is a lot like meditating and I hate that too. I’ve tried it at least a dozen times–in lotus position (my back started to ache), lying on the floor (I fell asleep), and sitting in a chair (I gave up after the sixth verse of “The Song that Never Ends” played in my head). To benefit from meditation you have to fully enter into it. To fully experience poetry you have to slow down enough to let each word sink in, move you, and change your perspective. It takes patience, a virtue I lack entirely. Poetry also scares me a little. It reveals things that are hidden, a thought that both intrigues and terrifies me.

I’ve had brushes with poetry throughout my life. When I was a kid I tried my hand at writing it. The result was less than copacetic, so I switched to prose. In high school I had a friend who wrote poetry on every surface she could find. It was beautiful and I wished I had the heart for it, but no such luck. Two birthdays ago an old friend made me a scrapbook filled with photography, art, quotes, and yes, poetry. Keats, Rilke, Dickinson. The poets were starting to push in on me. I felt a little claustrophobic. I read them and then retreated back into the safety of my usual literary fare.

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April ’12 Wrap-Up

Apr 30, 2012

I’m afraid this has been another slow month, both on the blogging and reading fronts. I still haven’t completely pulled out of my reading slump, though I did read more this month than in March. Still, I only posted eleven times in April, which is less than what I had hoped to get done.

Posts & Reviews

All the books I reviewed this month were CBA titles–three fiction and two creative nonfiction. I reviewed Stand by Me, the first book in the new SouledOut Sisters series by Neta Jackson, The Discovery, the latest historical romance from Dan Walsh, and The Sound of Red Returning, a spy novel by Sue Duffy. The first one was a winner, but the last two left me wanting.

  

I also wrote mini-reviews for Behind the Veils of Yemen, a memoir of the author’s time as a missionary in the middle east, and My Life and Lesser Catastrophes, about a personal tragedy the author’s family went through. The first book was interesting, but neither wowed me.

 

I also did three interviews this month–two with authors Neta Jackson and Dan Walsh, and one with book blogger Crystal from Just Another Book Lovin’ Girl.

Poll Results

This month’s poll asked: For those of you who went to see The Hunger Games in theaters, did you like the movie or the book better? Click on the image to enlarge the results.

I can’t really say which I liked better. The book was amazing and I probably enjoyed the experience of reading the book more than watching the movie because when I read the book I had no idea what was going to happen next, but the movie was also very well done. I think both captured the story well in different ways.

Consistent Commentators

Thanks to all of you who have added to the discussion by commenting! The top three commentators this month were:

  1. Laura Fabiani from Library of Clean Reads
  2. Jennifer Short from The Radar Report
  3. Linda

Be sure to drop by and comment on their blogs!

Quotable Quotes

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. {Oliver Wendell Holmes}

Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all you experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms. {Angela Carter}

Poignant Poetry

Television
by Roald Dahl (1916-1990) 

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set –
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink –
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

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Coming Next Month

Next month is going to be all about catching up on my ARC stack! Expect lots of reviews, interviews, and giveaways. Happy spring!

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March ’12 Wrap-Up

Apr 1, 2012

This has been a much more relaxed month than February. I only posted a handful of times this month, mostly because I spent my free time catching up on unwatched DVR recordings instead of reading. (I know, I know…) But while I was taking a break from the blogging world books have been flooding my mailbox which means that next month will necessarily see a lot more activity here.

Posts & Reviews

I only reviewed two books this month and they were both fairly long reviews which I put a lot of thought and time into. I finally got around to reading Wither, the latest YA dystopian bestseller which I enjoyed but didn’t love as much as The Hunger Games.

 

I also reviewed Nobody’s Child, which I read back in July of last year. Unfortunately, that one was a bust for me.

Poll Results

This month’s poll asked: Which classic book-to-movie adaptation are you most looking forward to this year? Click on the image to enlarge the results.

I’m dying to see The Hobbit too. I’m also looking forward to Anna Karenina and The Lorax and hoping they don’t completely butcher Great Expectations. I wonder if Dickens adaptations are best left to BBC. Check out the new poll in the sidebar!

Consistent Commentators

Thanks to all of you who have added to the discussion by commenting! The top three commentators this month were:

  1. Tina from Tina’s Book Reviews
  2. Maria
  3. Vivian from Vivaciously, Vivian

Be sure to drop by and comment on their blogs!

Quotable Quotes

To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is t make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or of one’s orientation toward it. {Sven Birkerts}

Typography Art by thereadables.tumblr.com

To learn is to be young, however old. {Aeschylus}

Poignant Poetry

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost (1874–1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And  sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worth them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Coming Next Month

As I mentioned before, I was flooded with books in March, so April’s calendar is completely full with reviews, author interviews, and a giveaways. I will be reviewing a couple of CBA suspense novels, two historical fictions, a handful of contemporaries, one general market novel and five memoirs if all goes according to plan. I went to see The Hunger Games last Thursday and I’m going to try to post a review of that ASAP.

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