What Even More Readers Are Reading

Barbara Robidoux: About reading., the book Eye of the Wild is well written by French anthropologist who survived a bear attack..interesting but not profound.
Next week the new Allende is released. Violeta..her earlier books were so compelling..not so much the last ones.

Bill Waters
One recent fave, Mir, is Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, by Mark Dunn (“A hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.”). Another is Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, by Julian Peters (“This stunning anthology of favorite poems … breathes new life into some of the greatest English-language poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”)

Just finished reading Bernard Malamud’s A New Life, which I fished out from my father’s old library. The book probably was written in the 50s. (He won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his book The Fixer and the National Book Award). Seymour Levin the main protagonist, trying to make a new start after his past failures, is an English language teacher teaching composition, who is not allowed to teach his true passion, literature. He is besieged with questions of morality and goodness. The prose is exquisite. The author himself was an English language professor. I wonder if the book is semi autobiographical.

Karla Linn Merrifield
This is going to be fun! What am I reading? I recently posted a new piece on my blog that gives your Well readers a good idea of what’s been keeping me occupied between the covers! Would love to see some of your readers follow my blog! More reviews in the offing! https://karlalinnmerrifeld.wordpress.com/2022/01/03/three-flash-book-reviews-words-from-the-unflinching/

Georgia Jones-Davis
poems by Antonio Machado
Nina Bjornsson
The Ministry For the Future. Kim Stanley Robinson. Brilliant near future novel about climate change. More compelling than I make it sound. And Elizabeth George’s latest Lynley mystery, Something to Hide.

Pat Hastings
I’m loving Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. One of its themes is the search for the ecstatic experience. So Bechdel studies and writes about the lives and works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Margaret Fuller, in addition to her doing a lot of judo, skiing, biking, and running. Bechdel knocked it out of the park with Fun Home, her graphic story of her closeted gay father. It got turned into a killer musical as well. The Secret to Superhuman Strength is equally compelling.

I am currently into “wild rides” . Recently finished Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Now am reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Recommend all three ! So many layers and complexities !

More Reading Response–with some conversation

Susan Nalder
Undaunted Courage by Stephan Ambrose – breathtaking- Sacagewea means Jumping Fish, and the moment she reunites with her brother-

Rochelle Williams
Sleepless Nights, Elizabeth Hardwick. Again. Vesper Flights, Helen MacDonald.

Miriam Sagan
How is Sleepless Nights? I’ve been reading the NY Stories

Rochelle Williams
I have loved it and been enthralled and mystified by it since the first time I read it many, many years ago. I reread it periodically. It’s so evocative of Rilke’s Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Nancy Fay
KA by John Crowley; Horizon by Barry Lopez; The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and everything I can find by N K Jemisin who is prolific.

Jerry Friedman
Must read new John Crowley book. Thanks for mentioning it! I see it’s been out since 2017.

Nancy Fay
As a longtime devotee of Crowley, I’d rank it just slightly below “Little, Big” which is high praise.

Heidi Schulman
Reading Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Togarczuk. Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo is next.

Richard Krawiec
My Father’s Glory and My Mother’s Castle by Marcel Pagnol

Peter Cherches
I just finished Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends. Pretty good.

Jerry Friedman
Donna Leon, Suffer the Little Children (one of her police procedurals set in Venice).

Amy Losak
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion.

Zoë Bird
Mary Ruefle, My Private Property, & Cixin Liu, Death’s End


Still some more blogs on this to come!

What Are You Reading? Responses

At least three people said Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Cheryl Marita wrote: “I just finished it and miss it already.”

AJ Schuman
Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman
It’s a beautiful meditation on the meaning of time. I think that you would like it.

Rod Scott
Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould. It’s not merely a look at the Beatles as four individuals who made music but also a journey into the sociological, economic, political, and philosophical context of their lives. I’ve found it quite fascinating.


More to come!

What Are You Reading?

This often gets a good response, and I hope for one here.
What are you enjoying? Include genre too, and non-fiction, and what you read for relaxation.
Just post below or write me at msagan1035@aol.com and I’ll compose some blog posts!
I’m almost done with Simone de Beauvoir’s “Inseparable” about a romantic friendship.(If it was by Colette it would be sexy, and there would be more cats and better food. As is, somewhat…philosophical.) Added plus–a very witty intro by Margaret Atwood.
“The Unseen” is about a tiny Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean. It seems to be about the hard details of life until suddenly it becomes wildly dramatic. I was mesmerized, but you have to like reading about dried fish. By Roy Jacobsen.
And, so far, four out of five books in a densely populated family saga. Starting with “The Light Years” this traces a sprawling British family, the Cazalets, from right before WW2 through to the post war years, by Elizabeth J. Howard. The boredom of war, and the oppression of even lively childhoods, is exquisitely drawn. You’ll need the cast of characters sheet, though.
And you?


Finally re-doing them–just waiting for some paint…

Here is what I wrote a year ago:

Periodically I get the Marie Kondo fit and attempt to sort the bookshelves. I’ve been doing this for several decades. When my first husband Robert died he left many–many–books. About a hundred needed to be returned to the library! A few years ago I discovered some shelves were still double rowed. Obviously despite the passage of time and so much more I’m having trouble getting rid of his books.
However, I think it is finally sorted. There was one book, though, a fat book with a handmade cover of a Buddhist mandala. I was just keeping it because Robert made the cover. But what was inside? No doubt a mystifying tome of Indian philosophy. I opened it–for the first time ever–and found…THE ILIAD.
Which I’ll keep.

Cholla Needles

I love the small press world–it’s my people. Bright on my radar at the moment is Cholla Needles, doing so much for poetry in the Joshua Tree area. Check them out at https://www.chollaneedles.com/ I know editor R. Soos is always looking for new work, and I said I’d send my network his way! It’s a very prolific press, with numerous beautiful issues a year and a thriving publishing arm that does individual books. I was excited that two books by the widely published poet Simon Perchik, now in his nineties, are forthcoming.
I particularly like the recently released haiku collection by Peter Jastermsky, “Steel Cut Moon.” They emphasis the aesthetic of loneliness found in classical haiku.

recess time…
the shy boy picks a shadow
to play with


fallen tree
one last storm
in its rings

there are also moments of awareness and opening perception:

as if
no other answer-
mountain trail

This is lovely work, squarely in the stream of contemporary American haiku yet also full of individual sensibility.

Also of interest is Lisa Mednik Powll’s “Finding the Azimuth.” These are diary entries, poems, drawings and poetic prose–all arranged on an alphabetical grid. They are full of little gems from a wandering troubadour-esque life. “One night in Auckland, I went out alone to hear Toots and the Maytals.” A unique approach–and the effect is that the ephemeral is captured and shared.

What Gary Lawless Is Reading

way up here in Maine (at Gulf of Main Books) I am reading:

poetry –

“Sisters’ Entrance” by Emtithal Mahmoud – originally from Darfur, she is
now an international slam poetry champion and spokesperson for the UNHCR

“Milk Black Carbon” by Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane

Non-fiction –

Terry Tempest Williams’ new book of essays “Erosion”

Fiction –

Overstory by Richard Powers

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout (Oprah’s film crew just filmed Elizabeth
reading in our bookstore for a piece on Oprah’s new TV show)

and the incredible about to be published novel “Apeirogon” by Colum
McCann, centering on two fathers, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who
have both lost daughters to random, senseless acts of violence.

What Alma Gottlieb Is Reading

What a great series!  I’m really enjoying seeing other folks’ reading lists.

Here’s my contribution . . .

Despite being a lifelong non-coffee-drinker, I’ve somehow found myself reading two fantastic books about coffee the past month.
The first: our own Miriam Sagan’s 100 Cups of Coffee, which hijacked me from reading the OTHER coffee book I’d just started.  This series of short meditations inspired by drinking coffee here, there, and everywhere got me thinking profound thoughts as only Miriam can, about life, death, and everything in-between.
The second: David Liss’ The Coffee Trader–another compelling read about coffee, but in a totally different register.  It’s a historically based novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam and has way more fascinating character development than a book with this good/fast a plot should have.  I won’t say more about the gripping story other than to predict that if you love/are intrigued by one or more of the following, you’ll probably love this novel: coffee / Sephardic Jewish history / Jewish-Protestant relations / 17th-century Europe / the development of global commodity capitalism / an exciting mystery.

Alma Gottlieb

What Philip Graham is Reading!

1.  A Place to Stand, by Jimmy Santiago Baca.
The poet’s autobiography, gritty and spiritual both.  Especially moving to me was his account of his years in solitary confinement in a high security prison—in that  confining space he found a much larger space within, and saved himself by learning the art and craft of writing poetry.

2.  Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert: My Life among the Navaho People, by Erica M. Elliott.  
Elliott’s memoir of her time among the Navaho, first as a school teacher and then later as a doctor, employs a spare and direct prose that allows the complexity of her cultural encounters to shine through.

3.  The Walk, by William deBuys.
Another memoir!  I’m still reading this. The author recounts the stages of his daily walk through his small farm nestled among hills in northern New Mexico.  The gorgeous prose inspires reflection, and after a week I’ve just barely cracked page 30.  No need to rush, when the writing is this good.

4. The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa.
In the haunting future Ogawa imagines, a cruel authoritarian State, without giving a reason, periodically censors things—calendars, photographs, flowers, even birds. Even something as trivial as toast. All examples must either be destroyed or turned in to the Memory Police. Once this is done, people forget they ever existed. Slowly, the world trudges toward extinction.

5.  Poems New and Collected, by Wistawa Szymborska. 
I keep coming back to this book by the Nobel laureate, for a kind of mental rejuvenation.  She finds a way in her accessible and exacting poetry to burrow into subjects such as miracles, the sky, hatred, and love at first sight in such a way that you see the world anew.

Philip Graham
Website: www.philipgraham.net
Editor-at-Large, Ninth Letter: www.ninthletter.com

More Readers Suggest Books!

Baro Shalizi: I just read Overstory and am now reading Destiny Disrupted.

Cheryl Marita: Finished listening to “where the crawdads sing” wonderful, lush story. Now reading memoir “Just Kids” by Patti Smith.

Sarah Sarai : Just finished Martha Collins’ new collection Because What Else Could I Do: Poems; and Sonia Sanchez’s Does Your House Have Lions? Both amazing. Both on loss.

Vicki Holmsten: Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. I am maybe even more terrified by it than when I first read Handmaid’s Tale 30+ years ago, because it now seems we are even closer to becoming her fictional Gilead. Atwood is a master storyteller. Hard to put this one down once you’ve entered into the narrative.

Paul Bustamante: “The Fiends in the Furrows: an Anthology of Folk Horror” and “Writing Fantasy Heroes.” Oh, and rereading David Gemmell’s “Drenai Series” for inspiration.

Karla Linn Merrifield: I’m reading Jim Ray Daniels ‘ book of short stories, The Perp Walk. I’m a great fan of both his poetry and prose.

Susan Nalder: couple of non-fiction wowsers: David Treuer’s THE HEARTBEAT OF WOUNDED KNEE; and Tamim Ansary’s THE INVENTION OF YESTERDAY (the latter, how stories & narrative are the true engine of history).

Susannah Page: Just finished 9th Street Women, about Lee Krasner, Grace Harriman, Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler

AJ Schuman: I’m reading “What Language Do I Dream In?”, by Elena Lappin. It’s a memoir of her life’s interactions with Russian, Czech, German, French, Hebrew, and English. A meditation on language and how it shapes thought.

Rod Scott: “On Trails” by Robert Moor. It’s an exploration of how trails affect everyone from the ant, to the Appalachian Trail thru hiker. It’s a fascinating read.

L.j. Mulry: Next up is Hampton Sides’ Blood & Thunder; just finished Momaday’s House Made of Dawn.

Lucy Moore: There, There — amazing fiction about urban Indians in Bay Area