I have no idea how it happened, but the poet Mary Oliver died last week and I didn’t find out until today. Oliver wrote nature-heavy self-carey type stuff that I generally avoid these days, but it’s beautiful and merits another look. I read her work obsessively when I was in high school after an English assignment to read one of her poems – possibly this one, my favorite:
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice — though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voice behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do — determined to save the only life that you could save.
What’s funny is that I don’t think I fully understood it until now. That happens a lot with books I read in high school. Fifteen-year-old-me related it to my Teenage Angst, and it fueled so much bad poetry. I’m glad I threw most of (all of?) that away.
Anyway, it appears to be high time I dive back in and read a collection or two. There’s a good chance I have one at home from twenty years ago.
I’ve read so few books this year that this should, at least be easy. My current count on Goodreads is 28, which will hopefully be 29 before January 1 if I finish Lord of the Rings in time. I’m currently around 45%, so we’ll see how that turns out. I should also probably note that a few of these were children’s books, so that count should probably be smaller.
I was about to link to all the others, but then I realized that all of those posts are in an unlinkable nether region somewhere in Palmer’s domain. Maybe I should dig them up, but I’m not going to because I’ve Moved On from the book blog. Except that I’m currently writing a post about books.
As in the past, I’ll list the books and rate them. Bold means I really liked them, italics means I didn’t like them, and no emphasis means they were good enough.
God – Reza Aslan
Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft
Cooking up a Storm – Staff of the Times Picayune
The Black Tides of Heaven – Jy Yang
Adulthood is a Myth – Sarah Andersen
Syllabus – Lynda Barry
Winter – Ali Smith
Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire
Wildlife – Richard Ford
It Devours! – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Last Look – Charles Burns
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett
A Piece of the World – Christina Baker Kline
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
Found Audio – N.J. Campbell
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
Artemis – Andy Weir
The Bird King – G. Willow Wilson
Honor Girl – Maggie Thrash
My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
Christmas in Camelot – Mary Pope Osborne
Monet Paints a Day – Lucy Danneberg
Claude Monet – Catherine Nichols
Linnea in Monet’s Garden – Christina Bjork
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree – Stan Berenstain
The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien (assuming I finish it in time)
That’s definitely more wins than losses, which is good since there were so few.
And the winner, you ask? Probably Sing, Unburied, Sing. I’m disqualifying Lord of the Rings because I’ve read it before, or those three novels together might have won.
My least favorite, by far, was Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry. The format is awesome, and it’s colorful and super nice to look at, but it’s infuriatingly dumb.
Next year, I’m hoping to hit 50 again. 2018 has been busy, and I’ve been finding lots of stuff to do that doesn’t involve reading. I’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook, so hopefully I can invest my reclaimed time on reading – or at least something more worthwhile than staring at my feed.
I really like this one! It’s definitely my favorite Artober painting so far. It’s 5×7 gouache on watercolor paper, based on this photo from Unsplash, my favorite source of free-to-use images.
I painted this one at work, and I’ll probably hang it there. It’s an example of what I want to do with my painting classes – what I hope I’ll get to do next year. Acrylics are most approachable, but I find more watery mediums easier to work with, and gouache (especially the acrylic variety) is far less intimidating than watercolor.
In other interesting news, I got this book today. I preordered it from Our Amazonian Overlords around March when it was announced but forgot about it until I got a shipment notification the other day. I’m super excited. It weighs in at a whopping 700 pages, so it’ll take a while to read. I hope it’s better than his last novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which I didn’t especially like.
Now, to descend into the world of kittehs and wells.