Monday, January 8, 2018

December Reads

A monthly recap of books I've read. For past months, see:
January Reads 
February Reads 
March Reads 
April Reads 
May Reads  
June Reads
July Reads
August Reads 
 September Reads
October Reads 
November Reads

If November's reading list was about fun and escape, December's list is a bit more well-rounded and seasonal.

Measure for Measure, edited by Annie Finch and Alexandra Oliver. This book I read over several months, a poem or two or three per day. It's organized by different meter types and while I still wouldn't be able to tell a dactyl from a trochee, I had a lot of fun reading it and look forward to seeking out more metric poetry.

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed. Not really sure if this book counts as nonfiction or not…it's a collection of quotations from Strayed's other books. I received it for Christmas last year (or maybe the year before) and had picked it up and read a quote here and there over that time, but after I finished Measure for Measure I still felt like reading short pieces in the morning and this happened to be on my night stand. The other thing it has in common with Measure is that it's a hard-cover book the size of a paperback, with a ribbon bookmark—my favorite kind of book of all.

Holidays on Ice by David Sederis. This probably doesn't count as nonfiction, either (I've read that David Sedaris describes his writing as "true-ish"), and it shouldn't be on this list anyway because I only read one piece, "Santaland Diaries," not the whole book. I read "Santaland Diaries" every Christmas, but the other pieces only once every three or four years or so. Nevertheless, I wanted to put it on the list in case there's anyone out there who hasn't given themselves the pleasure of "Santaland Diaries" which is hilarious. The one downside to reading a piece of writing so often you almost have it memorized is that when C and I went to see a one-man play of it earlier in December, I noticed every time the words had been changed (do we really need to update "camcorder" to "iPhone"? Doesn't everyone still know what a camcorder is?) or a part had been left out.

The Winter's Tale, by Shakespeare. This was referred to in the Introduction to Literature and the Environment lectures I've been watching on YouTube. I haven't read Shakespeare since high school, when I found the writing pretty much impenetrable, but I was surprised how well I understood what was going on and how little I had to refer to the text notes that came in my copy of The Winter's Tale. It was a good story with a twist at the end.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. E and Z opted to not listen to a holiday picture book every night leading up to Christmas, for the first time this year. Instead I read the full, unabridged A Christmas Carol to them, mostly to their annoyance. But it can't hurt to have a little Dickens tucked into their brains, especially since it appears that literature is disappearing from the curriculum.

The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing. I'd always thought of Doris Lessing as a writer from a long time ago, but this collection of four short novels was published in 2003 (her literary career ranges from 1950 to 2008; she died in 2013 at 96). Each of the four short novels/long stories was so engaging and so different from all the others and so almost word-perfect. I hope I can write only half so well in my 80s (and anytime between now and then). I've always meant to read The Golden Notebook sooner or later; now I'm determined to read it and much more of her writing.

Death at Gallows Green by Robin Paige. This is the only book that could count as escapism for last month. It's tangentially related to a book I read in September, Death at Hilltop Farm by Susan Witting Albert (Robin Page is the pen name Albert and her husband write under), in that Beatrix Potter makes an appearance, but I thought it was even better than the Hilltop Farm book and I'll be looking for more Paige novels this year.

P.S. By popular demand, I'll continue my monthly reads posts at my new website. Check there in a month for January's list and anytime for other writing updates and posts.

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