Saturday, July 23, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I'm so glad I finally read this. I noticed it was on a lot of lists of "best books" or "books everyone should read." I've been meaning to read it but my copy had a ripped cover, so I'd been putting it off. I didn't have to put up with the ripped cover for long, because the book was a very quick read.

The only good thing about my cat being sick, and me having to give her hour-long tube feedings is I have a lot of time every day where I am just sitting around and can't do much but read. I am trying to take advantage of this and read as much as I can.

The book is great, just like everyone says. I thought the main characters were complete in a way that makes me understand why people say the characters had to be based on people that Lee actually knew. I want to read more about Lee's life, and I was delighted to find out that the character Dill is supposed to be based on Truman Capote. Lee's writing style is friendly and engaging.

I do think this is still an important book to read, and when it came out in 1960 it must have been revolutionary.

The sad part is that Lee only wrote one book. I would love to see how her writing evolved over the years.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie now, which I have heard was really good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Abigail Adams: An American Woman by Charles Akers

Before reading this book, I knew almost nothing about Abigail Adams. I bought this at a library book sale because I wanted to learn more about the First Ladies. I was a little worried about my First Ladies project because I didn't know what to expect. I know a lot of first ladies accomplished a lot, but I wasn't sure how many sacrificed too much for their husband's careers, or just served only as support for the president.

I am so glad I started with Adams's biography. She and John Adams were equals in their marriage, and she argued how important it was for girls to be educated. She had her own opinions and was her husband's most important sounding board. I was surprised how much the couple was physically separated during their marriage, but it seemed like they were very happy together, overall. She was an avid reader and letter writer. The book included a lot of quotes from letters by Adams.

I saw one or two episodes of the series John Adams before reading this. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of it. I would also like to find a more extensive biography of Adams, because I feel like there is probably a lot missing from this book.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some Ether by Nick Flynn

I loved Flynn's poetry book about bees: Blind Huber. It was gorgeous, and didn't exhaust the subject, which often happens with poetry books that have just one topic.

Some Ether is also fantastic. I read some of the poems from this book when it first came out because some of them were on Poetry Daily. I don't think they featured the best poems. I think the best poems in this book are the darker ones.

Most of the poems in this book are about life with his mother, who committed suicide when he was young, and there are also some about his father, who was homeless. None of the poems were about who took care of Flynn and his brother after the suicide, which gives this book even more anxiety. I feel like Flynn brings me, easily, so deep into his feelings. So many people write about losing someone, but he wrote something new--I haven't heard these poems before. I feel so emotionally invested in these poems, I want to do research to make sure the poet is doing okay.

The titles are mostly one word or a short phrase. There are a lot of poems with "fragments" in the title throughout all the sections and subjects. The stanza and line breaks are not regular, which contributes to feeling off balance. There are gorgeous images, and good endings in the poems.

My favorites from the book:

You moved me through each room

Fragment (found inside my mother)

Visible Woman

Twenty-Pound Stone (This poem was posted as the answer when someone asked "What are some good contemporary poets or poems")

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Moonwalking with Einstein

I am very interested in memory. My memory is better than average, and it used to be a lot better than it is now. Ever since I learned there are memory championships, I thought it might be fun to do some memory training, but didn't really know where to start.

This was a great book to read because it gives just enough practical information so I could understand the processes of memorization, but most of the book looked at memory in scientific, historic, and social points of view.

I like hearing about the ins and outs of a group of people who all are interested (or obsessed!) with a certain subject, and this book brought me inside the group.

I also enjoyed Foer's writing style, it was fun and easy to read. He is good at explaining things, and making potentially boring subject matter seem lively.

Because the author did a lot of research on memory to write the book, he mentioned pretty much every book on the subject. Now I have list of more books I can read.

Moonwalking with Einstein

I am very interested in memory. My memory is better than average, and it used to be a lot better than it is now. Ever since I learned there are memory championships, I thought it might be fun to do some memory training, but didn't really know where to start.

This was a great book to read because it gives just enough practical information so I could understand the processes of memorization, but most of the book looked at memory in scientific, historic, and social points of view.

I like hearing about the ins and outs of a group of people who all are interested (or obsessed!) with a certain subject, and this book brought me inside the group.

I also enjoyed Foer's writing style, it was fun and easy to read. He is good at explaining things, and making potentially boring subject matter seem lively.

Because the author did a lot of research on memory to write the book, he mentioned pretty much every book on the subject. Now I have list of more books I can read.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Mount Clutter by Sarah Lindsay

I didn't want this book to end! The poems were about some of my favorite subjects: extinct animals, history, explorers the North and South Poles, science. What I liked even more is the whimsy the poet uses to write about the subjects.

Almost all her titles were words or places I didn't know or understand but I could either look in her notes in the back of the book, or the poem taught me what the title means. I feel like the writer is good at explaining new things to the reader without a lot of explanation.

The poems are dense, and I had to read them a few times to fully understand them. They didn't feel hard to read--it was enjoyable to read each one a few times. The poems are full of surprises: striking images, unusual links and conclusions.

Most of the poems have long lines and stanzas. There are many styles of stanza breaks: some even, some not. Most of the lines broke on the half or the end of the sentence.

I like the first two part of the book more than the third, although they were all great. The first part has a historic feel to it, the second involves islands that the poet made up, called the Bufo Islands, and the third seemed like the poems were less linked to each other. I think of the last section as miscellaneous.

My favorite poems in the book:

Hasselblad Meteorite

Mount Clutter

Escape by Garbage, 1903

Mawson's Pie

Monday, July 04, 2011

Aram Saroyan's Complete Minimalist Poems

The only poem of Aram Saroyan I read before this book is his famous poem, eyeye. I think concrete poems are fun, so I was happy to pick up this book at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival this year. Saroyan is kind of the representative for concrete poetry, or at least the most famous. I would like to look into the genre more and see if I can find modern poets doing this.

I zipped through the book quickly since there were just one or two words on most of the pages. I don't think all the poems were even in quality or creativity. The most charming poems really stick with me more than I thought such short poetry would.

My favorite poems in the book: (I am just writing the poems since they are only one or a few words; each poem is on its own line)

Typewriter Kittens

Shakespeare!

eyeye

nnausea