A February mid-morning in Blaine
I had a great reading month, even though our February has been busier than the last 11 months on record. I chalk it up to 2 poetry books, small in page numbers, and one excellent book I couldn't put down. The rest were finished because they were half-started already, and I took snippets of time here and there where I could, mostly in my bed early morning before the kids were awake. It's my best time of the day.
*Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman was a book I had wanted to read for about a year. I went to a really interesting homeschool conference talk titled something like What Motivates Children? by a woman who talked a lot of statistics and scientific data about the topic, and most of the references were from this book. I looked at my list and decided I wanted to read it this month. It was a really fascinating look at new scientific findings about how Americans parent (and why) and how most of it is not working to benefit the child(ren) or the family unit as a whole. Each chapter was broken up as it's own essay, all of them very different topics such as: teenage lying, racism, motivation, and early childhood testing. The authors made these findings accessible to the reader and it read very much like a conversation over coffee, which I appreciate. I'd recommend this book to anyone who interacts or parents children.
*Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds brought me back to my English major days reading poetry as a regular practice. Whenever I pick up poetry books, and I have already picked up three this year (!), I remember why I love to read the genre. The satisfaction of a small book paired with emotion through language is just something I love to savor in my free time. Poetry helps me see the world, bits and pieces, under a microscope with the senses magnified a thousand times. Stag's Leap was a memoir book of poetry about Olds' divorce. She'd been married for decades, and this book openly told the story of her last days with her husband on the brink of separation, to years later reflecting, and still missing, his presence. It's a book that is as vulnerable as lyrical, and I found myself blushing at times because of the frankness with which she lets us peer into her very emotional heartache and growth. You want to know if it's good? She won 2013's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for it.
*Incarnadine by Mary Szybist was a really interesting read, though I don't know if I fully grasped the whole of it. The poems were all over the place, but the reason I wanted to read this was because it won 2013's National Book Award for Poetry, and I love reading the winners of this award--in all genres. She was a new-to-me poet, and for the most part, I really enjoyed this book. I especially loved the graphic (and by that I mean it was in the shape of a sunburst) poem about God. It was shaped in a circular manner, with qualities radiating from the center. I'll be honest and say a lot of the poems I did not 'get' nor understand how they fit with the topic of incarnation-the theme of the book, but I still enjoyed it. I'd recommend this book to people who love poetry, have a literature-based understanding of the Bible, and like cleverness; her book is filled with it.
*The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a young adult novel. I feel I need to preface it that way, mostly because I want to tell you I never read this genre. Ever. Well, okay, not since Harry Potter, anyway. I wanted to add this to my list for two reasons: a) John Green was on the cover of my favorite magazine, Mental Floss, a few months back and b) everyone told me this story was really good. Well, people, I'm just another drop in the bucket of that ocean of voices, because this book was so well done. It has romance, tragedy, comedy, and mundane mixed in, creating something beautiful. The story is about two teenagers, both with terminal cancer, who fall in love, and go on an adventure together (like, a literal one, across the big pond). You'll need a box of tissues, and you'll read it really fast. It's a great book, worth the acclaim. I'd recommend this to just about anyone, from someone who might read one or two books a year, to a bibliophile.
*The Right to Write by Julia Cameron is a book I will literally finish up this morning, right after this publishes. Every morning I wake up at 6, as Stefan leaves, and have to myself two glorious hours of bible study, writing practice, email checking and blog reading. It's quiet. My kids are still asleep and I have self-discipline not to oversleep and actually do the work. Morning is my best time of day, and the quiet ensures I can sift through my thoughts, instead of half-shouting, half-grunting fragmented sentences like I do throughout the day when I'm communicating with my kids. The Right to Write is a nonfiction book about writing, and with every chapter/topic, Julia gives the reader specific directions and writing prompts. She is most well known for her work The Artist's Way, and although I have that one on my list for this year, too, I'll be starting Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird next for my writing practice because, well, Anne.
This book has been with me since November (maybe?) as I've been reading and writing through 5 chapters a week, and the chapters are very short, like, 3-7 pages a piece. The time frame for, max, 21 pages a week in a 316 pg book are a few months. I've really enjoyed her work, and I feel like she is nothing but encouraging throughout. She caught me with her introduction hook, when she tells us about a fantasy she has about getting into heaven:
"St. Peter has out his questionnaire, he asks me The Big Question, "What did you do that we should let you in?"
"I convinced people they should write," I tell him. The great gates swing open." (p. xvii)