Poetry 2020 Edition 1

Hello my dear friends of books and pies, I am here to talk about poetry.

My goal for 202o is to read a poem every day. I’m not tracking, I’m just reading. I’m not limiting this experience to one poem a day – that is the minimum.

And I’m loving it!

I started the year with Joel Coen’s The Day the World End: Poems.

I liked a few of these but overall, not so much.

Next up was this lovely collection:

THIS!  was wonderful and fabulous and very very enjoyable!!!!

Ok. So, I’m thinking this post is boring and I’m not wrong. But I don’t know how to talk about poetry. (Not that I really know how to discuss fiction, either). But this collection is fun and smart.

and referenced pie, so of course I would love it. No, even without pie, very good.

NOW is my story of how I came to find the 3rd and 4th poetry collections I will feature in Edition 2 of Poetry 2020.

I went to the library now that I have figured out that slim — I mean, THIN and very slim, as in low page counts — are the way to go to get me to read poetry.

I went to the library and went right up to the first non-busy librarian I could find. (by “not busy”, I meant “not talking to another human”) and asked for directions to where I could find shelves with poetry. I was directed to go to the Reference Desk and ask for D_.   Which I immediately did.

Or, rather, I went to the Reference Desk. No one was there. I wandered until I found other suspiciously-librarian-looking humans and asked if I could find D_. One of these luminary beings was D_!

I followed her to a section where another human was already pulling Mary Oliver books off the shelf. This person was asking about poetry and blah blah blah; we chatted, we laughed, we shared, all good… I grabbed the thinnest fewest-page collections I could find and ran.

(Not really.) I went to check out with my TOB holds and am delighted to share that when I got home and looked up the poets I brought home with me, one had been a Poet Laureate!

I will accept help on how to post about poetry…

<– pie for Super Bowl LIV

 

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Heartland

Thoughts hbyss by Sarah Smarsh, 2018, 290 pages

Challenge:  N/A
Genre:  Economics Nonfiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Purchased somewhere books are sold
 Why I read this now:  Finally, it’s time was now.

MOTIVATION for READING: My mom told me that she needed to read this for her book club but the wait list at the library was long. So I bought it for her Mother’s Day present. She read and sent to her sister, who sent it to me. I’ve had it a few months.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This is Sarah Smarsh’s memoir about working hard and being broke growing up in Kansas. I wanted to read it because Smarsh is from the area of Kansas that I am also from. Or a few miles, anyway. I can’t say I know any of the same people.

THOUGHTS:  Wow, I have fallen out of the review-vibe, once again. I don’t know what to say. I cannot bring myself to be critical but I also can’t find it right to say that this was a great read. It was a fine read. What the hell is the word fine mean but that I can’t or won’t say more?  I did find the talking to her unborn-child a bit odd, but I also didn’t necessarily hate it. I might even have related to it – I think she explained this part well. Her writing skills are evident. It was very readable – I was never tempted to DNF.

Of course, DNF-ing is not always a case of the book not being ‘good’ but that sometimes the right book isn’t being read at the ‘right’ time. FOR ME. 

I knew the landmarks, the physical localities of her life. I recognized her midwestern viewpoints, often. I don’t think I would call her a whiner, like some have accused her of.  She wasn’t really a complainer, as such and she really didn’t lay vicious blame at the feet of “corporations/government/capitalism” and yet she did. She didn’t offer solutions nor suggest that there are certain portions of the US economy that is just not catching the breaks. That you HAVE to catch the breaks, is the point, perhaps. She explained that it took real effort and a fish-out-of-water feeling to break out of the cycle she saw in her family circumstances. I admire her. I wonder. I really just don’t know what to think of this.

What this book really did was heighten my interest in reading Hillbilly Elegy. I have heard this book of Smarsh’s is BETTER than HE. Yet, HE got the kudos, the attention, the movie deal. So I want to find out if it is the same or better. Or worse.

Ah, it shouldn’t be a competition. Was that the point? I don’t know what the point is. She worked hard, wanted DIFFERENT for herself and thus on a typical
success rating, she succeeded.

The pros and cons supporting and dissing this book are fascinating. I, again, have not the capacity to figure it out nor explain it here, that’s for sure.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.

Her grandmother made a lot of pie and I can respect that.

Gma Teresa was always in charge of the pies since she bested the other women with her meticulous baking skills.

“Canned pie filling in a bowl”

 

 

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2019 in Review

I read 73 books. 

 Total pages 13,568. Hours 240

Female/Male:  40/33

Fiction/Non: 59/14

New to Me Authors: 59 /  Repeat Authors: 14 

This year, I read my 7th Ann Patchett. Two authors, I read for the 3rd time:  Thomas Hardy and Matt Haig. I read 11 authors for the second time. The only reread was Milkman, by Anna Burns, both this year – one by eBook and one by audio. I also read Say Nothing, a nonfiction view into the times and setting of Milkman. A themed combination that created a great reading experience.

Classics: 14; oldest book Candide 1759. Only 3 books published before 1900. Books published in 2019 = 20, in 2018 = 23.

Shortest book: No Small Gift, 110 pages. Poetry

Longest book: The Golden Notebook, 640 pages

Longest Audiobook: Wolf Hall (and the only series book?)  24+ hours

I took advantage of Audible’s monthly freebies quite often.

Highlights:

I completed the Classics Club 50 in 5 years!!!!!  

I also completed – for the VERY FIRST TIME – the Back to the Classics Challenge at the 9 book level.

I already mentioned my Milkman twice + Say Nothing “Reading Experience”. Wonderful. 

A renewed focus to blog and write reviews. Lots of Business/Leadership books = 5.  Three books with the word GOLDEN in it. Another year of no readalongs. And no Stephen King. Anyone up for The Green Mile in 2020?

I did a fair job of reading books for the March Tournament of Books – always a wonderful time of year. 

My top favorites to share are:

Finally, PIE.

and, drumroll please for the 2019 Pie in Literature Award, the WINNER of my best book with pie is  The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J.Ryan Stradal!

Edith would just as soon take another woman’s husband as another woman’s pie recipe, and she had the best husband in the world, so there you go.

 

Honorable Mentions: Where the Crawdads Sing for a boat named The Cherry Pie, and The Psychology of Time Travel for frozen butter pies on a stick.

Which reminds me, I read a few time travel books this year, too.

 

One more thing:

I read 8 books in 2018 that were on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die: The Accidental, Candide, A Clockwork Orange, The Woodlanders, Naked Lunch, The House of the Seven Gables, A Handful Dust, Love in a Cold Climate

Happy New Year! Read and enjoy a slice of pie – in real life or in a book.

Diana frowned. “We told you, we don’t want cake, we want pie.”

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Review 2018

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Merry Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas!

May you get your favorite piece of pie! From top to bottom:  Apple Cider Cream Pie, Apple Pie, Golden Dream Pie and Rhubarb Meringue Pie

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The House of the Seven Gables

Thoughts by Nate Hawthorne, Kindle edition (orig 1851), 290 pages

Category  1. 19th Century Classic

I loved this!  The more I think about this wild tale, I fondly smile and reflect and think, “YEA!”

I had no idea. To be perfectly honest, (what a NUTTY turn of phrase is “perfectly honest…”), the first 20-25% should be considered an Introduction and read AFTER not before.

The story and the characters are quite endearing! Let’s see how much I recall from October . .  .

Old lady nearing the state of being house-rich + cash poor and …    tenuous at best. A dear sweet scary looking old lady who just needs a friend for pete’s sake!  (I know I would have LOVED her and could have made her a fast-friend) anyway…   Dear-sweet-old-lady opens a shop in her old house to sell crap and confectioneries to adorable little kids (ok, one kid – but what a lovely little rake, he is!) when “Distant Adorable Cousin” shows up to help and move in and get away from the country.

(This is obviously a condition of the times….  sweet cousin shows up and says “HI! can I stay here?” and they all say, “Sure, why not…”)

OH!  but drama.  And it was … cute!  fun! I don’t know…  not as scary as T-rumpville?!

Anyway, there’s a ghost, there’s family history, there’s house-history, there’s devious family members trying to usurp other poor family members and it was

a fun read.

But. WOW was that first quarter part a slog.

(Even if, in hindsight, it kinda sorta helped set up the fun of the rest of it…)

 

I rated this 4 stars.

“The wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones and… becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.”

This just might have been my favorite of the books I read that count for the Back to the Classics Challenge…   maybe

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The Golden Notebook

Thoughts by Doris Lessing, Perennial Classics 1999 (orig 1962), 635 pages

Category  10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). Any classic set in one of those contents or islands, or by an author from these countries.  Is one of my Classics Club 50, too.  AND What’s in a Name for the Precious Metal category…

I read this for a snail mail buddy read but it didn’t quite get traction. I don’t think my buddy finished it or maybe just didn’t say much about it. I don’t remember.
I read this at the end of May into June.
It is the longest book I read this year. It felt like it.
It is very odd. I don’t think I can give any kind of summary.
As Ruthiella has said and I paraphrase, “It is a slog at times; it is brilliant at times.”
It did have a lot of pie mentions.
The book cover above links to goodreads if you care to read the many varying reviews others have put there.
I gave it three slices of pie.
I really don’t remember all that much other than thinking the 1950s weren’t what we saw in TV sitcom reruns.
So how about some pie!
This is Crustless Cranberry Pie and I love this during the holidays – so festive and easy. And the grocers usually have cranberries in the produce section.
Varied from allrecipes.com:
1 cup all-purpose flour
not quite 1 cup white sugar (I usually try to use less than a recipe specifies)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cranberries – fresh, rinsed
1/2 cup walnuts – optional
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract (I use 1/4 tsp because this stuff is strong!)
Preheat to 350 degrees
Grease a glass or ceramic pie pan.
Combine flour, sugar, salt.
Stir in cranberries and nuts, toss to coat.
Stir in butter, eggs, and almond extract.
Spread the batter into the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm. or not. Great for breakfast the next day, too. No need to refrigerate.

 

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Now in November

Thoughts   by Josephine Johnson, Simon and Schuster 1934, 231 pages

Challenge:  Classic Club
and
Back to the Classics Challenge PLACES I HAVE LIVED (Missouri)

BTCC Berlin Booksclassicsclub1

**AND** What’s in a Name 
Challenge 2019Month/Day Category
Genre: Depression Era, Pulitzer Winners
Type/Source: Library
 Why I read this now:  I was trying to find something for this WiaN category – come to end up reading 3 books to satisfy. #whatever #shrug

MOTIVATION for READING: I saw this on my tbr and it fit the category and the library had a copy – possibly a first edition copy? (I was having a hard time finding a copy of One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes which IS in my cc50. This just happens to be a classic; NOT on my cc50…)

Page 144: “When everything was finally dead, I thought that relief from hope would come, but hope’s an obsession that never dies.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A family trying to eke a living out of the ground in the midst of the depression. Older sister is a fish out of water, the youngest sister and mother are inspirations, Dad is wearily lost and angry about it all and our narrator just aches with  feelings and thoughts that only confound.

What gr says: “Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage, this Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel (1934) written when Josephine Winslow Johnson was only 24, depicts a white, middle-class urban family that is turned into dirt-poor farmers by the Depression and the great drought of the thirties. The novel moves through a single year and, at the same time, a decade of years, from the spring arrival of the family at their mortgaged farm to the winter 10 years later, when the ravages of drought, fire, and personal anguish have led to the deaths of two of the five. Like Ethan Frome, the relatively brief, intense story evokes the torment possible among people isolated and driven by strong feelings of love and hate that, unexpressed, lead inevitably to doom. Reviewers in the thirties praised the novel, calling its prose “profoundly moving music,” expressing incredulity “that this mature style and this mature point of view are those of a young women in her twenties,” comparing the book to “the luminous work of Willa Cather,” and, with prescience, suggesting that it “has that rare quality of timelessness which is the mark of first-rate fiction.””

THOUGHTS:  I would NEVER have compared this to Ethan Frome, but yea. I guess I could go there. (I shudder.)

Such pain. Such loss. I worry about our world now and how much we use and discard, in our disposable society. If I had to live simply and off the land, giving every extra penny to my mortgage, thinking of it as a terrifying weight that could drag me to my death with any next scratch of a pen; … Anyway, it is a sobering look at how people managed, or didn’t, in that awful time.

The descriptions of nature offer some glimmer of love and sunshine. But even the sun gets cursed in this one.

Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage.

Four slices of pie.

Page 28: “He cut us big slices, firm and wedge-shaped like the tall pieces of a pie, and a bigger one for mother, and then we thought it was time for the presents to be given.”

Page 115: “He did it because he liked pies, he said, and was fearful that M would fall asleep and put away God knows what in the jars.”

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Wolf Hall

Thoughts by Hilary Mantel, Macmillan Audio 2009, 24 hours 14 minutes

Narrated by Simon Slater

Genre: Historical Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  Reading this for both TOB and to satisfy my own curiosity. I want to be ready for the 3rd in the series which is due in March.

MOTIVATION for READING: Super Rooster Chase <– see post. This edition of the TOB is to be held sometime in 2020. The March 202o edition will be just another regular TOB, I think.  The Long List for that is due next week! (I’ll update a link when I have it.) #SuperRoosterTOB

I really enjoyed listening to Wolf Hall and was wowed by the dialogue, the drama, the layers and depths to Cromwell’s persona.

Mantel was able to make him a sympathetic character! I like history, I do. I just don’t know as much as I think I should. Prior to this, I really didn’t have much knowledge other than the popular image of King Henry VIII and all his wives. I would say I thought Cromwell to be a shrewd, cruel man involved in some way with that period of English history. But this story does NOT portray him as particularly evil or mean, but rather quietly ambitious, loyal, fatherly, community-minded and very very thoughtful. I wasn’t sure what to do with this gentle, considerate and — oh sure, scheming  — person.

Was he scheming or just very very good at being flexible and adept at taking advantage of the opportunities presented?

So, I liked Cromwell. I did. Sigh. After finishing this book, I googled what might happen next and…. huh.  Well.

I’m not going to give a review of what happens in this book. It’s about Tom C and his rise to power, basically. And all THAT  is very dependent on the relationship with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Anne is fascinating; very very fascinating…  OH, the whole thing is just DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I love how Hilary imagined it might have gone down. And I was amazed at how subtle and slippery it was. In fact, truly, I missed the milestones in the day to day to day – wait. WHAT happened? What did I miss?!

OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!

I googled SO MANY names! so many histories so many s/he begat so-and-so.

I googled Rafe Sadler. I googled his son Gregory. I googled “Is Oliver Cromwell related to Thomas Cromwell?” Such history! I can see why some people get obsessed with all things Royal.  It’s just fascinating for some reason. (I’ve googled descendants of our Founding Fathers, too, to see if any have popped up famous…) Family histories fascinate me, what can I say. You might wonder if I’m agog with the Kennedys but actually, I’m only mildly interested in them… The Vanderbilts tho? OH YEA.

I can’t wait to do the next in the series; will probably do the audiobook.

From a #SuperRooster perspective, this is not my favorite to win but I’m glad to finally read it and I’m psyched to be ready for the Champion TOB when it happens.

Your turn. Thoughts? Do share!

 

 

Ch 19 42:28         “Like he was a lid to a pie,”

Four slices of pie.

 

 

 

Up next: the Accidental by Ali Smith. Discussion 12/15/2019

My copy just arrived… This will be my first Ali Smith!

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Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Paper Wasp

Thoughts  by Lauren Acampora, Grove Press 2019, 289 pages

Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Gift from a Friend, to be repaid in kind
 Why I read this now:  Coincide with Author Event

MOTIVATION for READING: Blurb sounded good!

Page 283: “What a sweetie pie”, the woman would say, and Shelby would say thanks as if the sweetness were her doing.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Two friends since grade school reconnect at a high school reunion. One is an actress, a rising star. The other is unhinged.

What goodreads says: “In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute, the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.”

The story has a low-level hum of dread, a creepiness that is expressed well in the narrative with Abby telling Elise what is happening – a present tense feel yet immediate past. We can only sense, “this ain’t gonna end well.”

page 198:  I understood that you were gone. I saw that you’d never return to me fully, that we’d forever remain on parallel tracks, never to mesh again, no matter how I twisted and swerved.

   October 2019 Author Event at Brown University, along with poet Jennifer Franklin. I didn’t have a chance to purchase works prior to the event but have both author’s books on order now…

THOUGHTS:  Oh the ending! NOT what I expected but I am impressed. The clues are all there, no lost threads but an exclaimed “OMG! WOW.” from me, thinking in my head that the author was quite clever; fabulously pulled together.

Very smart, imaginative writing.

Four slices of pie.

Page 145: As you spoke, I felt a spiking sensation under my skin. I didn’t want to hear any of it. I tried to tune out your words while I studied the black stone in my hand. I marveled at its weight and warmth. It was solid and eternal, not of this world burning with the patience of the ages. It would outlast your folly and my pain. It would outlast everything.

So…, my friend who invited me to the event gave me her book and thensonow I’m ordering the book to give back a copy to her since she is friends with the author and now they have another good excuse to get together — so Lauren can sign HER book!  too funny. Things we do…  Thanks Kim for inviting me to this.

I can’t wait to read The Wonder Garden. I love linked story collections and the reviews are excellent. Lauren Acampora is an author to watch!

 

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Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mini Reviews for Mid October 2019

Thoughts

Since my last random update post, August’s, when I was audiobooking Charlotte Sometimes, I have not only completed my Classics Club 50 in 5 years requirement but am devouring more classics in a race to the end of the year!

Not sure why the above is indented, but I’m going with it. The list/image below is in finished order, but I’m going to talk about audiobooks first and then print.

OK, so I finished Charlotte and only kind of liked it. Gave it 3 slices of pie. As far as I recall (and perhaps failed to note) there was NO PIE. Boo.

On to my next audiobook, also a classic, Tom Hardy’s The Woodlanders – and I was all in for the drama-DRAMA-D.R.A.M.A!!! of that crazy tale.

Started Naked Lunch after that both for Classics Club 50 and for this year’s What’s in a Name Challenge. I DNF’d. I got 25% in and decided that I wasn’t going to enrich my life further by listening to any more c words, f words, p words and v words.  (v for vomit.)  I’m counting it as read. Judge me all you want. (Applause also appreciated.)

Then it was on to A Handful of Dust!   Crazy wild tale, really. Quite. I would love to chat with anyone who would like to discuss. I don’t think I shall forget this story. Ever. Evelyn Waugh is just so easy to imagine as a snooty and brilliant uppercrusty-judgey Brit. Apparently he hated Dickens. Huh.

I palate-cleansed with a quick 1 hour audio ‘short story’ called Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanics, an Audible Exclusive (freebie) and enjoyed it very much. I like time travel stories.

After that and still into is my current audiobook, Wolf Hall. More on that in a later post…

Now print – mostly eBooks:

For print and in this case, I mean KINDLE, I read   The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal and LOVED IT!  OF course it HAD PIE!  Pie was a goddamn THEME.  Five slices of pie served with beer, if you please. Read it if you LOVED Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which I did. I think it was an eBook. (Yes, yes it was. I noted that.)

I read a few free or not-expensive eBook romances:   Next in Line by Amy Daws (fun! especially to read aloud to the hub while driving in to work) and Sealed With a Kiss   by Leeanna Morgan (not my cup of tea – skimmed it).

And, YIPPEE SKIPPY for me! I finally finished The House of the Seven Gables!! After many rocky starts which never ever seemed to catch, this time, I rolled up my sleeves and powered through. LOVED it once the characters were allowed to be characters (about 25% in, I’d guess? and not the history prep explanation which begins this story. I’m so glad to have read it. whew.

Then The Bird’s Nest was available – I think it was a library eBook? Very Shirley Jackson. I adore Shirley Jackson. Such talent. This book impressed me.

Oh wait! I read A Clockwork Orange, too. And yes, it was odd, violent and scary but not as scary as Naked Lunch. At least ACO had a story.

Which brings us to Love in a Cold Climate  – hardback, library – which I just finished and immediately reviewed in the post prior to this one.

The pie tally?  7 out of the 12 had pie. A few had interesting pie references, indeed (chubb pie in Love in a Cold Climate!)  Plus, a description of pie dough rolling in The Woodlanders, kidney pie and meat pie in A Handful of Dust. Truly, I’m deeply suspicious of any Brit book not having pie!

On the list of 1001+ Books To Read Before You Die: A Clockwork Orange, House of Seven Gables, and Cold Climate Love. And Naked Lunch.

Edith would just as soon take another woman’s husband as another woman’s pie recipe, and she had the best husband in the world, so there you go.

  • from The Lager Queen of Minnesota

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