Monday, July 17, 2017

June Reads

Having a single post to cover all I read in 2016 was a bit overwhelming—both to write and, I'm sure, to read. So I've decided instead to do a monthly recap of books I've read, and share a little about each book. For past months, see:
January ReadsFebruary ReadsMarch ReadsApril ReadsMay Reads
I don't have an excuse for just now getting to June's books, other than the relentless march gallop of time. How can July already be more than halfway gone?

Anyway, June was a light reading month, partly because I read more than half of a book that appeared on May's list (Mountains of the Mind), partly because I was doing a lot of reading for research, none of which added up to a whole book (but which entailed reading most of an enormous tome on grazing in the west), and partly because I made an effort to catch up on magazines and literary journals—not a success, but an effort. Here are the books I did manage to read in June:

Poetry. For my morning poetry reading, I read Sandra Steingraber's collection, Post-Diagnosis, in which many of the poems center around her experience of being diagnosed with bladder cancer in her early 20s. But they also range far and wide, from nuclear testing to the poet Audre Lorde. The book makes clear why Steingraber's nonfiction writing about environmental health (see my review of one of her books here) is so lyrical, despite her training as a scientist. She does not leave that training behind while writing poetry, however. This is the first book of poetry I've ever read that is footnoted with sources of the events and information in the poems.

I also read two chapbooks by my friend and fellow Stonecoast graduate, Amanda Johnston. I LOVE hearing Amanda read her poetry, and I was wishing for her voice as I read, but reading them was the next best thing. Her poems are smart, sexy, thought-provoking, gut-punching, and word-playful, all in one and I can't wait for her forthcoming book!

Nonfiction. I'm trying to keep a steady stream of hiking/outdoor literature going as inspiration and instruction while I write my book and I happened to find a remaindered copy of Colin Fletcher's River at a bookstore (for fifty cents!!!). I'm a big fan of The Man Who Walked Through Time, so I was excited to read River and was not disappointed. Fletcher strikes the exact right balance between description and reflection (how does he do it, I don't know) as he describes his trip from the source to the delta of the Colorado River. I was sort of thinking of him as a mild-mannered Ed Abbey as I read, and then I came to the part where he talks about Abbey, who had contacted him around the time both Desert Solitaire and The Man Who Walked Through Time were published, and how he had responded somewhat churlishly, and missed the opportunity of meeting the more cantankerous of the two (otherwise similar) men. Fletcher took the trip late-ish in life (in his 60s), and while he's fairly reticent about details, he does some looking back over his years and airing regrets, of which the Ed Abbey incident was only one.

Fiction. Okay, once I reread Crocodile on the Sandbank, I dove back into the world of Amelia Peabody, Victorian Egyptology, murder, mystery, mayhem, and other hijinks. One final, posthumous, Amelia Peabody book is coming out next week. I reread the entire series about two years ago, so I didn't think I'd need to read them again, but it turns out that I do and I'm hot on the trail of finishing the 12 or 13 that come before the forthcoming The Painted Queen (some out-of-order writing publishing took place; last time I read them in publication order; this time I'm reading them in order of events). The two I read during June are The Curse of the Pharaohs and the Mummy Case.

What are you reading this month?

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