Counting Descent (Clint Smith)

I went through a short poetry phase in high school, sparked by a unit we did in our AP English class. For whatever reason, that interest dropped off. This year’s Reading Challenge saw me pick it back up, and it has breathed new life into my reading routine. Not every author or type of poetry will speak to every person so don’t be turned off to poetry as a genre if you don’t happen to like what an authority figure has deemed “proper” or “good” poetry. And if you’re not into whatever author or type of poetry is in vogue, that’s fine, too. (If rupi kaur isn’t your thing, we won’t judge you.) I find that it’s like viewing art at a museum: don’t pay attention to the crowds or what’s highlighted in the guidebooks; find whatever speaks to you and go enjoy that.

Title/Year Published – Counting Descent (2016)

Author – Clint Smith (go follow his twitter too)

Page count – 70

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5

This slim volume focuses on the theme of race, specifically what it means to live as a black man in America. Family relationships and histories are central to this story-telling. Continue reading “Counting Descent (Clint Smith)”

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Second Nature (Michael Pollan)

Well, friends, the year is almost done. How are you doing on your own Reading Challenges? There’s still about three weeks left, and I would need to read six books in that time to meet my goal. Two per week is totally feasible, right?? If I really buckled down, I could make it work, but we’ll just have to see. 🙂

Title/Year Published – Second Nature: A gardener’s education (1991)

Author – Michael Pollan

Page count – 258

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5

(I don’t know that I need to read this book again, but it’s definitely one I’m passing along to several gardening/horticulture/landscaper friends. And I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the books and authors he recommends/references.)

I hadn’t realized this when I got the book, but I’ve already read another by this author called The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Like I said in that review, it was a book that made me think about things in a philosophical way that I hadn’t considered before. Whereas Omnivore applied to anyone who, ya know, eats food, this book is really more of interest to those who do any type of horticultural work – whether you are a farmer, manage the landscape of a large estate, or just keep a couple pots of flowers on your front step. Continue reading “Second Nature (Michael Pollan)”

Poems (Signe Dolores Lepse)

One new thing I’ve done this year with my Reading Challenge is consume more poetry. I used to buy into the idea that a book of poetry doesn’t “count” toward my reading goals, so I avoided it. Let me tell you, friends, all that did was deprive me of years of beautiful writing.

Title – Poems

Author – Signe Dolores Lepse

Poem count – 58

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 5/5

I picked up this little volume at my public library’s book sale. One thing I appreciate about these poems is that the author’s Midwestern background is clearly apparent. Continue reading “Poems (Signe Dolores Lepse)”

The Runaway Jury (John Grisham)

Hello, friends 🙂 It’s been awhile! With less than two months to go in the year, I’ve been taking stock of how I’m doing on this year’s Book Challenge. This is the 28th book, and I challenged myself to read 36 (which, according to Goodreads, means I’m two books behind schedule). That’s ok. I originally only put myself down to read 24 (two per month), then changed it to a “stretch” goal of three per month, so I’m just happy I’ve gotten this many done. My excuse is that school has been busy this semester! In fact, I probably would have gotten through the latest one faster if it hadn’t been for school stuff. It was much more interesting than the time it took me to read it would suggest.

Title – The Runaway Jury

Author – John Grisham

Page count – 550

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 3/5 (Liked It)

I’ve never been especially drawn to the legal thriller/crime fiction genre. Honestly, the only reason I read this one is that I’m trying to whittle down a stack of books that I currently own but don’t want to take with me the next time I move (approximately six months from now). This is a pretty thick book so getting it out of the pile made a decent dent. But it was actually interesting! I was pleasantly surprised at how it held my attention. Continue reading “The Runaway Jury (John Grisham)”

Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Miguel A. De La Torre)

If your Christian theology leads you to a Gospel that is not “Good News” to all – including, and especially, people who live on the margins of society – then it’s not the Gospel.

Title (Year Published) – Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (2004)

Author – Miguel A. De La Torre

Page count – 264

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5

Hoo boy. This book got me all riled up. For the last few years – although the last 10 months have amplified things – I’ve been constantly going back and forth between 1) devouring the books/words/testimonies of liberation theologians and valuing the good the Christian Gospel can do when it is enacted in people’s lives in healing, sustaining, life-giving ways, and 2) being consumed by anger at people who claim Christianity yet act in ways and perpetuate systems that oppress the very people the Gospel is supposed to be Good News for – the poor, the sick, the hungry, the homeless. Christians seem to think they can say a prayer and forget that we’re supposed to act, to actually be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus. Continue reading “Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Miguel A. De La Torre)”

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)

This is a very good book. And because it’s written with a young audience in mind, the writing is relatively easy to read. But if you’re looking for a story with a happy ending, this one’s not it. This is not a story where justice is done and people get what it would seem they deserve. It is a story of hope and loss and determination and family.

Title (Year Published) – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)

Author – Mildred D. Taylor

Page count – 276

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 5/5

(CW: the n-word, racist violence)

Cassie Logan and her family – mother, father, and three brothers – live on a farm in Mississippi in 1933. The Logan family is luckier than most in that they own the land on which they farm, and as the back of the book says: “It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride – no matter how much others may degrade them, the Logans possess something that no one can take away. This story focuses on the children’s experiences – attending a segregated, underfunded school; fearing attacks by the Klan; and leaning on the love and joy of their family. Continue reading “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)”

Spinster (Kate Bolick)

I’m so happy I finally got my hands on this book! My one criticism is that, at times, the pace slowed down just a bit too much. Otherwise, I found this to be a fascinating examination of several interesting literary women and a balm to my happily-single heart.

Title/Year – Spinster: Making a life of one’s own (2015)

Author – Kate Bolick

Page count – 297

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5 (Really Liked It)

This book is technically a memoir because Bolick weaves in her own relationship experiences as a single woman. But she focuses heavily on the histories of five literary pioneers she holds as role models for her own life – the essayist Maeve Brennan, the columnist Neith Boyce, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, the novelist Edith Wharton, and the social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Continue reading “Spinster (Kate Bolick)”