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:

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.

Staying on course to start the year

So last weekend after rethinking my first book of the year, this past week I pretty much have been doing what I planned to be doing with my reading.

I’ve been reading a chapter a day from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations each day this week so far in the mornings before I go to work and plan to continue that through to next Saturday, with 12 chapters altogether. Then in the evenings after work, with the exception of last night, I’ve been reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, which will be my first book read this year when I am finished. I had planned to finish by last night, but I now am thinking it will be by the end of the weekend.

I still am looking ahead to my own Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Readathon next weekend as I have next Monday off from work. However, instead of starting a reread of Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 that I read more than 20 years ago, I am going to start reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65. Then once I finish that, I can go on to the final part of the trilogy, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 in hopes of of finishing the series by the end of the year.

I also picked up at the library two books of collected speeches of King that I want to dip into over next weekend.


Lest you think it’s all too serious, on Thursday night, Kim and I watched Stranger Than Fiction, a not-so-typical Will Ferrell movie about an IRS tax agent who discovers he is a character in a book that is being written. I can’t believe that we took so long to get to it.

Last night, we also watched Wild Rose about a fictional Scottish singer wanting to go to Nashville that also was very good. But the one I recommend for you all in keeping with the literary theme of The Sunday Salon, of which this post is a part, is Stranger Than Fiction.