zoomed-in paraglider, around Boundary Bay
Summer is a time where I'm outside more than I'm in, and although I (almost always) have a book in my pack, I find I read less. This month is a bit the same as last. It's a seasonal rhythm I have noticed about myself.
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg // I have heard of this book, seen snippets, or read quotes from Goldberg's writing companion for years, and was able to grab a free copy from my paperbackswap community. I make myself write for 30 minutes a day, in the morning when I'm fresh, for practice, brain dumps, and discipline to write down my ideas and flesh out children's books and novels, and work on them regardless of how I'm feeling. Having a book about writing that I can go through daily as a motivator, of sorts, has been a really helpful practice.
This was my third full book I have finished as a writing companion book in the past nine months. It generally takes me about 10-12 weeks to finish one of these. I didn't love this book, but it wasn't terrible, either. It has some really lovely prose, but I found the sections too small, vague, and without direction as a daily dose. Looking back, if I'd have read this for a class, in a setting where we could discuss it, I might have enjoyed it better. Most chapters were 1-3 pages and that just didn't give me the burst of energy I need to sometimes fill a 30 minutes that doesn't come naturally. Anne can make me laugh, and Julia gave me lists of things to do. I need one or the other though I'm glad I gave this book a try. I just found a home for it just this morning by entering it back into the PBS system.
The Story of Charlotte's Web by Michael Sims // This biography was about E.B. White, whose classic American tale about Wilbur and Charlotte was an instant success. The book started with his parents, siblings, and family wealth and ended with his son reading aloud Charlotte's Web in his late father's barnyard to a group of school children, sharing the story with the next generation of readers. Parts of this book were so sweet, but most of it was incredibly dry and monotonous. I love the story of Charlotte's Web and recently had finished reading the original aloud to my own children, two out of the three tearing up when Charlotte doesn't return to the barn. I was excited to read this biography and feel even more connected to the story, but I just couldn't get into it. It took me six weeks and almost three full books finished in between the start and ending point of this book.
Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Greg Boyle // Oh. OH. OH! I loved this book so much. This is the memoir of how Fr. Boyle, affectionately know as G-Dog by the homies, created the ministry of Homeboy Industries. H.I. gets gang members, ex-prisoners, and teens from cyclical gang families a job in one of the many arms whether that's a cafe, farming, a bakery, silk screening, grocery (and soon to be food truck!). They also provide legal services, tattoo removal, education, mental and physical health services, and training programs. It's basically a holistic approach to lessening the gang influence in the Los Angeles area, and it is so inspiring. Fr. Greg's anecdotes are funny, and his tenderness towards these kids (if you make it to 30 you're old) just exudes all over the pages. His love and acknowledgement of their value just turns on the waterworks. His mission is to tell these kids they are created by, loved, and delighted in by a God who knows them. The physical aspect of the work and services provided are just the overflow of that message. This book is excellent. I'd recommend it to anyone. Want to know more about it but not a big reader? Watch the documentary on netflix streaming.
In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler // I didn't really know what to expect from this book. I read the Vagina Monologues back when I was in college? highschool? and knew Eve was edgy and frank back then. When I heard her on NPR's On Being about six months ago, with her new book out, she seemed much softer. She had gone through cancer treatments and In the Body of the World was a memoir about her cancer, but also about her history of abuse, traveling the world and learning women's stories, and her love for the women of Congo. This book is deeply tragic and graphic, and it is really well written. This is possibly the most self-reflective book -mix-poetry I've ever read. There are parts of it where I felt vulnerable in my own skin, on my own couch, alone, because of how raw it is. It's a story of hope, after so many women, decades, lifetimes, of loss. It's like one big performance piece (that you can understand) with a philanthropist as patron. I liked it a lot.
Cold Antler Farm by Jenna Woginrich // I'll be finishing up this book just before this post goes live, and since I'm neck deep in it, I can write a review. This book has quirky metaphors and is all about a one-woman animal thick 'scrappy' acreage. Of course I'm going to like it. Jenna started out small, in fact I read Barnheart awhile back, also hers, and is now an established farmer who sells goat milk, cheese, soap, and her words to stay afloat at Cold Antler Farm. It's her memoir of why she wanted to start farming, and what she loves about it. The book goes through the farmer's seasonal year, ending with Harvest, and I love that little detail. In each section, there are chapters about what happens with the animals, the garden, and her tasks that change depending on the month. It's so her readers understand that time doesn't really mean the same thing in a city as it does on a farm. If you love learning about how goats breed, getting a feel for curmudgeonly hay sellers, and hearing about pressing parties, it's a solid and good book for you.
(ongoing) The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron // This book is my next writing book, and I sort of feel like I'm cheating because I've already read a JC book this year as a companion. One of my goals for a few years has been to go through The Artist's Way intentionally, and this is the year I'm going to accomplish it.
(current) Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles