All. The. Poetry.

As with last Friday where I was off from work, this Friday, today, I also am off from work, this time, though for a vacation day. Like last Friday, I also am not going anywhere, thanks to the weather. Last week, it was snow that kept me in; this week, a bitter cold with wind chills below zero (Fahrenheit). I am spending the day the same as last week, though, with reading.

Last Friday I finished two books:

  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

with the former being better than the latter for me. It wasn’t that Xendi’s ideas weren’t good, it’s just that I didn’t care for the way the book was structured. Locke’s book, on the other hand, flowed for me like poetry in places.

This Friday, in keeping with that theme of poetry, I am starting by reading and listening to poetry. Last week I mentioned signing up for the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day service as part of Poetry Reading Challenge 2020. This past week I signed up for a poem-a-day podcast called The Slowdown with former Poet of the Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith mentioned by Melissa Firman in her Sunday Salon post last week. So now even though, as part of the challenge, I intended to pick a favorite poem each week from the Poem-a-Day service and write about it here on the blog, now I am split. Should I also pick a favorite from Smith’s podcast, produced in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and write about it here or is that too much?

While I’m not sure, for today, I think I’ll just share one favorite poem from both with a link to the poem or the podcast or the poet reading the poem. This week’s poem is, as shared by the Academy of American Poets is “Aubade” by Ishion Hutchinson:

As with last week’s poem, I am most impressed with the way the lines break, especially at the end of the poem:

and immeasurable slow leaves bring down our morning.

Today, I might also dip into a couple of books of poetry borrowed from the library at a local state university a few weeks ago. Then later in the weekend, I want to continue reading Pillar of FireAmerica in the King Years 1963-65, the second part of Taylor Branch’s history of the Civil Rights Movement in America, that I began last weekend and will be reading over several weekends, if not several months. I might also read the next Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout: Where There’s A Will. And while this past week, I didn’t do great with my planned short bursts of reading mentioned two weekends ago and only read one Sherlock Holmes short story, I hope to read a few more maybe this weekend and next week.

So…how is your reading going this past week? Or anything good you’re planning to read this weekend? Anything to recommend (or not)? Please share in the comments.


Also referenced in this post:

Let's Rewind…

…to last week where I joined an online Haruki Murakami Book Club on a chat app called discord and also joined the 2020 Poetry Reading Challenge. Since then, I have decided to “unjoin” the book club and adjust my goals with the poetry reading challenge. My “unjoining” the book club has nothing to do with person who invited me to the group, but that I am not “feeling” the book right now and I also have mostly read the Murakami books I want to read. It also has to do with what I want to read right now, and that is, on the fiction front anyway, mostly older detective fiction.

On that front, last week on the blog, I talked about starting/restarting the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. On Thursday and last night, I did just that by reading and finishing Over My Dead Body, the seventh in the series. I also want to start/restart reading the Sherlock Holmes short stories. I don’t even know where I am in reading them, so I’m going to start over with the stories, skipping if I remember and then going on from there. I have the complete collection on Google Play Books so I can read them on my phone. While I’d prefer to have them on my Kindle   I now have the complete collection of novels and stories on my Kindle and am reading from there so I can keep track of where I am instead of forgetting where I left off.

With the poetry reading challenge, the option that I signed up for reading a poem-a-day through the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day service. The challenge, as outlined by Serena, is to read a poem-a-day for a week once per month and write about which poems were your favorite and why on your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or your blog. I am adjusting it to pick out my favorites from the month and write about them at the end of the month, providing links to the poems as well. Most likely, I will limit my choices to a few so as not to overwhelm you all.

I also have a plan for when and how I will read…

Short bursts AND long stretches

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t read well in short bursts. I prefer to read in longer stretches of time, which I usually am afforded on weekends, most Saturdays (except when I’m working at the library) and all Sundays. This is assisted by my wife working 12-hour shifts Saturday into Sunday and Sunday into Monday, which means I have more “free time” during the day to do what I want. I learned with reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius to start the year that I can read in short bursts. To that end, I want to read Sherlock Holmes during the week throughout the year, no specific deadline on when to finish or if I’ll finish this year, just to read a short story in the morning before work or in the evening Monday to Friday.

On the weekends, though, I still want to read in those longer stretches of time that I am afforded. On Saturdays, starting with today, I will go to the local state university I mentioned previously and read for the afternoon. Then on Sundays, as is my custom, I will read Sunday Salon posts in the morning and then books in the afternoon. At least that is the plan here at the start of February.

This Weekend

As for what I plan on starting to read today, I have a couple of possibilities. First, on the fiction front are two:

  • Where There’s A Will, the eighth in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout.
  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.

I’m leaning toward Heaven, My Home as it will dovetail nicely with the start of Black History Month in a book about a black Texas Ranger, authored by a black female.

On the nonfiction front this weekend, I plan on starting with How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I started this one last year but didn’t finish and it also coincides with Black History Month. Then next weekend, I would like to begin digging into Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65, the second part of Taylor Branch’s history of the Civil Rights Movement in America. I had planned to begin reading the latter on MLK Day but that didn’t happen (I finished the a book of King speeches instead). Based on the length of Pillar of Fire, it will be one I’ll be delving into over several weekends, not just next weekend.

As always, I’ll keep you posted here on my progress with these and other books throughout the rest of the month or the lack of progress thereof, but I’m hoping for the former.

My Second Book of the Year?

After finishing my first book of the year last week, I now am stuck on what will be my second book of the year…that I finish. I already have abandoned two:

However, because of a telephone conversation with that friend last week, I am refocusing much of my reading on what I know I love: older murder mysteries along the lines of Agatha Christie and the like.

So now I am thinking the second book that I will finish this year might be Over My Dead Body, the seventh in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout. I restarted reading/rereading the series in 2017 and now am returning to doing that. When I was a teenager, I read many of them, although I’m not sure if I read all of them. That’s why I wanted to restart them especially when I learned that the Free Library of Philadelphia had all 33 of the novels available on ebook.

Beyond Over My Dead Body

I have several other books on the radar, including those in this stack (that also includes DVDs) I picked up after getting a community patron card at a local state university:

Among the books in the stack are a couple books by Haruki Murakami. When I posted the photo, Monika (lovelybookshelf on Instagram) mentioned a new Murakami Book Club on discord with the first book being Norwegian Wood. Even though I didn’t know what discord is, I decided to join. The group begins discussing the first four chapters tomorrow and all this week on discord, which I know is a free voice and text chat for gamers. Then the group will discuss subsequent chapters through the week of Feb. 16 to Feb. 22. The only thing my book is due back Feb. 12. I guess I hope no one puts a hold on it between now and then. Otherwise, I might have to find it elsewhere…or…GASP! buy it!

Also in the stack are a few collections of poetry, which I thought might count toward a poetry reading challenge for this year that I only recently learned about: Poetry Reading Challenge 2020, hosted by Serena from the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. Then tonight I actually read (imagine that!) the options for the challenge and realized that a couple of options for the challenge is not just reading, but reviewing (gah!) books of poetry and realized I’m not much (er, at all) a reviewer. I think I am going to try another one of the options:

  • Signing up to read a poem-a-day through the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day service, then reading a poem-a-day for a week once per month and writing about which poems were your favorite and why on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or your blog.

Since I’m getting to this party late in the month, that means that I will be reading a poem-a-day for this week and then writing about which ones are my favorite and why on my blog at the end of the week. No pressure or anything. 😉

In other news…

This past week:

Please go congratulate them both and add them to blogs to read, and if you haven’t listened to Chris Wolak and her friend Emily Fine’s podcast Book Cougars, definitely go give it a listen. They just did their 94th show!

Author’s Note: *facepalm* I don’t know why I titled this “My Second Book of the Year?” because at this point I already had read my second book of the year: A Call To Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard. I actually should have titled this “And For My Third Book of the Year?” Duh.

My First Book of The Year 2020 Finished

Photo from late December 2019.

This morning I finished my first book of the year: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius as translated by Gregory Hays. It was the book I initially selected at the start of the month and the year. However, it also was the book I rethought only a few days later might not work for my first book of the year because of another book that I thought would work better to start the year. In the end, though, I think my first choice was the right one.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, it was the right choice for the very reason I spelled out after rethinking it. That being, with there being a lot of aphorisms in Meditations, I thought I’d get more out of it if I read a chapter a day over two weeks and journal on one or two passages each day. And I believe that I did.

Here are a few of the passages that struck me as I read the book:

Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow “or the day after.” Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn’t kick up a fuss about which day it was—what difference could it make? Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small.

It’s silly to try to escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.

Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.

As for the runner-up, I believe I will return to it eventually. I just can’t say when.

What’s next?

Starting today through Monday, I am doing my own Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Readathon as I have Monday off from work. I want to begin reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King 1963-65, the second part of a trilogy that begins with Parting The Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, which I read years ago, and concludes with At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68, which I hope to read in the future.

I also want to dip into the following:

  • A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shephard.
  • The Radical King, edited and introduced by Cornel West, which collects speeches and writings of King.

On the non-reading front, tomorrow afternoon I am going to a neighbor’s to watch the AFC Championship game. As I texted him:

Go Ch…. Ti…oh I don’t care. 🙂

It just will be good to see him since I haven’t seen him since…well…last year!

And as I’m finishing this post just before hitting “publish” this morning, it’s beginning to snow, three to five inches expected, not a huge amount, but enough that I’m glad I’m not going anywhere and will be hunkered down for the day reading – and napping, but of course.