First Monday Book Day: It’s Not Just for Mondays Anymore

Pepper posted a couple months ago  "I want to be a person who reads poetry, but the truth is that I'm not."  and I can kind of identify with that.  I like to occasionally pick up a poetry collection, but I find that it takes a different kind of appreciation than novels or even short stories.  In most collections I've read, there's two or three poems that stick out but I find it hard to take in the book as a whole.  When I read poetry I'm reminded of a quote from this article about people's responses to a live poetry reading.

We’re introduced to poetry as it relates to the concept of the rhyme at a young age. We all read and loved Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss and to us, that’s what poetry was. Then, when we encounter it later in high school or college, we learn that rhyming is bad and so are clichés. This new poetry is hard to understand, and we still love Shell Silverstein.

I like that idea and the thought behind it.

With all that said, this past month I read Brink a collection by Shannah Compton.  And while I think I still ran up against the same issues that I usually do when reading poetry, I enjoyed a lot of the poems and a lot of the lines within those poems.  My favorite was "Critical Animal Studies", in particular the last four lines.

Critical Animal Studies

Let us creep apart from them.
Let us be eternal cynics who despise
things like polo and expatriate accents.
Except, I will continue to say dishabille
as scantily as I envision it, whatever rules
we make, alluding again and again
to the porcelain lamp I flick on and off
in my elliptical dream. Let us welcome
the wounding of our structures, their division
into parcels of turned-away desire.
Then let us take down all the fences,
position the floodlights to capture
the glory of the dark procession
as our creatures stumble free.

Share what you've been reading this month below, or maybe share a poem you've enjoyed.

29 thoughts on “First Monday Book Day: It’s Not Just for Mondays Anymore”

  1. Yeah, I'm not a poetry reader. Can't write it worth a damn, either. My brain isn't formed that way.

    Lots of unintentional re-reading-
    J.V. Jones' trilogy of The Baker's Boy, A Man Betrayed, and Master and Fool. I got halfway through the first book and realized I'd read it before, but it must have been early in high school, 'cause I didn't remember most of the storyline. It's a pretty straightforward fantasy tale, all three books circling around the same half-dozen characters that were introduced in the first book.
    Then I picked up the first two novels in Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion series. Yep, I'd read both of them a long time ago, too. Soldiers in space as civilization crumbles, interesting take on politics and national alliances. I've got a Harry Harrison To the Stars trilogy cued up that I've read before that's pretty darn similar.

    New stuff I read was the first three books in Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series. Fairly entertaining if you enjoy guns and monsters and magic. The first book struggles a bit to get going and strike a balance between storytelling and spewing out a ton of extraneous details, but by the third book, the author has settled down a bit, switching narrators and setting up the story better.

    1. I very much enjoyed it. Much more compact story-telling than the Commonwealth Saga, which went on for evah.

    2. I struggled through that one, too. I should re-read it. I know I finished it but I can't remember the wrap-up. I do remember I liked most of it.

  2. In the last month, I finished volume 2 of Allan Nevins's The Ordeal of the Union. I think this one was subtitled "A House Dividing." It covered the presidency of Pierce and mainly focused on the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Stephen Douglas was quite the conniving, duplicitous little guy.

    I finished 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon and found it pretty meh. (It was just my filler read at the gym the last few months.) It focused a little too much on totally bizarre, gossipy stuff for my tastes.

    Bossypants by Tina Fey was perfectly fine except it failed to explain why she swipes her credit cards incorrectly.

    Finally, I read Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. An interesting, gossipy look at Johnny Carson (more appropriate to profile him that way than the 1960 election) from his former confidant.

  3. So far I've read 2014 yickit books.

    1. Art of Fielding was pretty meh for me, but a lot of people I know enjoyed it. For me the story was too unbelievable for my tastes.
    2. I don't know why I read Godin's stuff: must stop.
    3. I wanted more background on Carson since I didn't grow up watching him. Not too much here, especially if you are looking for an early history.
    4. The other two were business books that I enjoyed. Nothing groundbreaking but it was fun to look inside Zappos and Automattic.

    Also in case more people are on goodreads:

  4. I got "Eats Shoots & Leaves" from Bookmooch and got started on that. I read "Shit My Dad Says" on Friday evening. It was amusing, at best. I'm definitely glad I just borrowed out and didn't pay good money.

      1. For what it was, I liked it. It injected as much humor as one could ask into a discussion of punctuation. Dragged in a couple places (the semicolon is the one I think I remember getting a little slow, but I read this a few years ago), but overall a recommended read from me.

  5. I'm just finishing up Johnny Cash -- The Life by Robert Hilburn. Comprehensive warts and all look at Johnny Cash. Great read if you want to know more about The Man in Black.

  6. Gravity's Rainbow update:

    I'm through page 130. Not a great reading month, but I feel like I've got some time coming (Spring Break! Woo!) where I'll be able to make some good progress.

    Thoughts so far: SelectShow
    1. I stalled out around 200 at the beginning of February. Now I'm at 210.

      'My Thoughts' SelectShow
  7. I'll pick up and read Frost, usually thumbing through looking for a random one that's no longer than a page and a half.
    I think we have two anthologies. EAR had one from High School. Then a year or two I found one at Half-Priced books on the "Less than Half" Shelf: like $2 hardcover. I couldn't pass that up.

    I should get a Poe anthology as well. I think he knew me when he said that "the Raven" was basically as long as a poem should ever be. I should remember to look for a Poe anthology some day, too.
    I read a little bit of Spencer in high school, and although it's a poem, it's more like a novel in poesy (and middle English, and obscure* reference atop obscure reference).
    *to the modern teenage reader.

    This is probably my favorite Frost, "Fire and Ice"

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    I love the rhymes and the meter. Those two ending four-syllable lines complete the rhymes we expect but without all the words, which makes it feel stark and cruel.
    This poem was in a high school Literature text, but it wasn't assigned, I don't think we ever got that far in the book, but I read it and re-read it and memorized it and have never read anything about it. I'm tempted to now, I looked up the wikipedia entry to copy the text, but I hope I don't.

    1. We had to memorize "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" for English class in 8th grade. I can still do most of it from memory, the rhyme scheme helps quite a bit with that. Around that time (late middle school/early high school), I read a Poe anthology. I remember thinking that the ones everybody knows were the best by a good bit.

      Frost is like pop-alternative music for me. Yeah, I know most of the words, and I don't mind taking it in, but I've never considered it a particular favorite of mine.

      1. I almost quoted the end of "Stopping" but instead went for a full poem.
        I read the wikipedia entry. There are claims that "Fire and Ice" has many connections to the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. But nothing much on the truncated lines.

  8. I recently finished Dodger by Terry Pratchett. It's the first time I've read any of his non-Discworld books (of which I am a great fan), and I really enjoyed it. It's the (lightly plotted, semi-historical) tale of a teenage street kid in Victorian London who through various circumstances pals around with Charles Dickens and various other notable figures. Even for a young adult book it wasn't very challenging (it's almost like a Dickensian Forrest Gump-lite, but it's much better than that implies) But it was so goshdarn pleasant and the characters were so lively and wonderful, it was like the book equivalent of a soothing cup of tea.

    I also read Night Film by Marisha Pessl, which I'd been really looking forward to reading. It's a smart creepy noiry thrillery story of a disgraced reporter investigating the apparent suicide of the daughter of a mysterious, enigmatic cult horror film director. It's almost a 600 page book and I ripped through it in two days, which says something for how tightly it's plotted. Very gripping. What surprised me the most was that the first half was almost beat-for-beat the same as one of my all-time favorite books, the unheralded Tokyo Suckerpunch by Isaac Adamson. In what I'm sure is just a coincidence, they're both neo-noir stories about sardonic reporters investigating underground, enigmatic worlds of film. Night Film went a little more off the rails in the second half, which was really fun but also sort of exhausting. There are a few eye-rolling moments along the way, but overall this was a very enjoyable, very clever, very spooky work of literary suspense.

    I give both books a million out of ten.

    1. Marisha Pessl's first book (which I know you mentioned a few months ago) is on my mental list of books I really want to read at some point.

      1. I thought that Special Topics In Calamity Physics was pretty good. Pessl seems to be kind of a divisive figure for a lot of people, so there's also a ton of negative press about that book for some stupid reasons (the politics of the publishing world sound annoying in the extreme.) She's also got a few quirky writing tendencies that rub some people the wrong way, but personally I enjoy her style.

  9. When I do (rarely) read poetry, one of the things that interests me is how poems allow a writer to say certain things that one just can't say in the same way in any other type of writing. In thinking about a poem I've enjoyed, "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop comes to mind.

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

    The villanelle is an interesting form to me because it seems so rigid, but the best poets find a way to transcend its constraints. The lost things in this poem start out as such minor things but by the end we've come to as big a loss as one can experience. And there's something about that parenthetical in the final line of this poem that I find so powerful.

  10. The only way I ever get any poetry is through music, otherwise I'd rather read novels or the poetry of a late season Twins game log.

    I started reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series, finishing The Gunslinger (the expanded and revised version with a good intro by King to explain why the writing is... not the smoothest.) during my recent trip to VA. I've started The Drawing of the Three. I'm liking where the second book is going so far, as its starting off fairly gonzo.

    1. In a similar vein, my favorite poem, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray, put to music by Rick Wakeman

  11. Fewer than 600 pages left in the Tor short story collection. The end is in sight! Maybe finished by May.

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