Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Book Stack ~ February 2022

A monthly post about what I've been reading, with aspirations but no real hope 
of reading down a very tall stack of books. Previous posts from this year:

I see from this photo that I read a lot of books last month--I'm not sure when I found the time, because I felt straight out with book promotion all month, but I guess I found some escape and rest in books.

I had enjoyed Kate Baer's poetry collection What Kind of Woman and I love her erasure poems that peppered Instagram last year and which are gathered together in I Hope this Finds You Well. These are found poems, in which she turns messages--often hostile troll messages, but sometimes lovely, supportive messages--and blots out many, or most, of the words and turns them into tiny haiku-like commentaries on human nature. Loved it. 

I brought a lot of books to Mexico in January. I don't know why I thought I'd have so much time to sit around reading, but I only finished one while I was there (covered in last month's post). I went thematic, and brought along novels that take place in Mexico. 

The first, Lost in Oaxaca, by Jessica Winters Mireles, I bought because I thought it was a thriller, but it turned out to be a love story, which was a little disappointing (in my defense, the first paragraph of the back cover makes it sound like the setup for a thriller; I did not read the second paragraph, which makes it clear it's a love story). Still, it had some lovely descriptions of the food, culture, and landscape of Oaxaca (which was not the part of Mexico I was in, so it was fascinating to read about). 

To sate my appetite for a thriller, I picked up a book I've read many times before, The Night of Four Hundred Rabbits by Elizabeth Peters. Even though I remembered who done it (though not why), it was still a thrill to read, and even though it was published in 1973, it has held up. The description of the drug trade in Mexico, however, comes off as naive, or quaint perhaps, compared to today's (more) murderous cartels. 

Finally, in the Mexico category, I read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which is SO good--super creepy and delightful in the gothic tradition, but with a heroine who is not a helpless ingenue and a supernatural force that is so original. I wish I could rhapsodize about the device, but it would give too much away. If you're a fan of the gothic tradition, you will want to read this book.

When I heard that a school district in Tennessee had banned Maus by Art Spiegelman, I knew I had to read it. I mean, if some ass-hats in Tennessee think it's bad, it must be good, right? And it's a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. It's the story of Spiegelman's parents' experience in Poland under Nazi occupation, right up to their removal to Auschwitz. You can see why fascists wouldn't want children to read about where fascism ultimately leads.

Because my book has been so admiringly compared to Kelly Corrigan's work, I figured I needed to read her latest, Tell Me More. I was familiar with her work on NPR podcasts, but this was the first book of hers I read. It's warm and funny and smart and generous in all the right proportions, and even though it tackles a very difficult subject--the death of her close friend due to cancer--it manages to be a feel-good read. I do admit to skipping one essay, though, once it started delving into the realm of the scatological. I mean, I've got a pretty high tolerance for potty humor, being the mom of three boys, but this one went a little far down the toilet even for me to take.

Oh, why yes, I did read my own book, Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail. I started it the minute the box of author copies came in the mail. And, in my totally biased opinion, it is SO good! Of course I was on the lookout for mistakes, but I only found one typo and a handful of commas I wish had been placed differently, plus a sentence I didn't think needed to be in there--it over-explained what came before it in the rest of the paragraph. Otherwise? You guys, I'm SO happy with it. I mean, really, really happy. So please, if you haven't already, get your copy today, and then you can read it, too! And if you like it, give it a review on the old Amazon and Goodreads (I know, I know, but it's good for my visibility, which is good for my sales, which is good for feeding my children). 

And last of all, the book on the bottom of the stack, which doesn't have a title on the spine, is Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl. It's, as you can probably tell from the title, a book about marketing your book. Grahl calls his system permission-based marketing, which he defines as asking people's permission to market to them (primarily by getting them to sign up for an email list) and then giving them something of value in exchange (useful content). So here goes: if you subscribe to my newsletter here, you'll receive a free PDF of my illustrated short essay "Eleven Ways to Raise a Wild Child" and also be entered in ONE LAST drawing to win a print of one of the illustrations from Uphill Both Ways. Sounds like a good deal to me!

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