Taking Home “The Confessions of St. Augustine”

I just took the very first book on this year’s reading list off of the shelf, at the library where I work. Guess what? I’m going to be the FIRST person to read it and it was purchased June 7, 2007.

I’m a little scared, to be honest. Yet, intrigued at the same time…

I’m not going to try and gobble this one down. It will be a process and I’m definitely going to read other books while I’m working on this one.

What about you? Have you ever read it? If so, what were YOUR thoughts?

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I am enthralled with an old dead dude…

For those of you who instantly disapprove of the title of this post:

It could be worse- at least I’m not crushing on a pasty thousand-year-old bloodsucker! (Yes, Edward Cullen, I’m talking about you…)

No, the man I am referring to is Carl Sandburg.

Now, most of you just went “Wha- who?? Is he like a politician or something?” And maybe, a few of you actually scratched your heads and said, “Wait, isn’t that the guy who wrote that lame poem they made us memorize in grade school about fog having little cat feet?”

But… I’m getting ahead of myself…

This past week, I climbed the wide staircase in the beautiful old library I work at, made my way past the grimly staring taxidermied animals from the 1800s, and randomly pulled this book off of the poetry shelf.

I brought it home and began reading it, half-heartedly at first, and then with growing excitement.

I don’t read books of poetry in an orderly fashion, from cover to cover. I take a tentative bite in the middle, then I pick at the edges, rolling them carefully across my tongue. If I like what I taste, I dig in, shoveling luscious mouthfuls as fast as I can. I pretty much pigged out on this book.

My poor husband had to endure me reading multiple verses to him in the car, with me smiling the whole time, like a lovesick teenager.

It is absolutely CRIMINAL that Carl Sandburg’s whole legacy has been reduced to a pathetic poetry fragment he probably scribbled on his napkin, while eating dinner. His “cat-foot” poem doesn’t even SOUND like him!

The poetry contained in his book “Chicago” has grit! It lives and breathes and sweats. It cries, makes love, and dies.

The people he pinned to paper are preserved with the lost art of the ancient Egyptians…. lifelike faces and mummies of souls, caught in crisp black ink.

If you appreciate poetry at all, even a little bit, please go to this website and see for yourself. Warning: he is highly addictive!

A good place to start is with his poem, “Skyscraper“:

“…A young watchman leans at a window and sees the lights
    of barges butting their way across a harbor, nets of
    red and white lanterns in a railroad yard, and a span
    of glooms splashed with lines of white and blurs of
    crosses and clusters over the sleeping city.
By night the skyscraper looms in the smoke and the stars
    and has a soul….”

Or with his sobering portrayal of earth’s long ages, “I Am the People, the Mob“:

“…Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
    drops for history to remember. Then–I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
    People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
    forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
    a fool–then there will be no speaker in all the world…”

 

 

“Room” by Emma Donoghue: A Book Review

As I’ve mentioned before, I work in a library. Obviously, in my line of work, I see many, many new books. I am not always impressed with NY Times bestsellers.

  In my opinion, the “Twilight” and “Dragon Tattoo” craze is nothing more than the literary version of Silly Banz. A useless, cheap trend.

When I first read in Reader’s Digest about the book “Room“, I thought it was just going to be another author trying to hop on the fad wagon.

It arrived in the last book shipment and something about it caught my attention. I picked it up and started reading the back.

Before I knew it, I was starting the first chapter and I had to tear myself away to continue shelving books. I told myself that the last thing I needed was ANOTHER book to read, but somehow I couldn’t bear to leave it behind at the end of the day.

I devoured it in about two sittings.

Emma Donoghue took me by the hand and introduced me to a five year old boy named Jack. Then, she quietly backed away, leaving Jack tell his story. He lives in a tiny place called Room with his mother, Ma. They have everything they need. Food, clothes, shelter, love…

But it all depends on your perspective. To Ma, this perfect world is a prison. Literally. The provider of their daily necessities is their captor, Old Nick. How did they get here? Where did they come from? Well, you will just have to ask Ma…

Jack and Ma are both amazingly human, flawed and lovable. I marveled at Jack’s naïve wisdom about life, even as I winced at his innocent verbal stabs towards his mother’s self-sacrificing protection. I applauded their bravery. I cried with them… and I their world became mine for a little while.

“Room” is a surprisingly gentle look into the depths of evil and darkness. In some ways, it reminded me of the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”.

We could learn so much more about everything, merely by looking at history through a child’s eyes.

This book is a marathon for the strength of the human spirit. It shocks you with brutal honesty.  It reflectively asks if we are really so different- whether we are an innocent child or the perpetrator horrible  of a crime.

Still by A. R. Ammons

 
 
I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I’ll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:
but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is
magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:
I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
found
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up
and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:
I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:
at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!
 
In August I found this butterfly journal at Barnes and Nobles:
 
 
It was sitting there on the shelf, just begging to have poetry written in it. Something about it reminded me of a book my mother used to read me when I was a child, The Lion and Blue.
 
 
I have been reading a lot more poetry lately, in hope of broadening my horizons and learning new styles and techniques.  I decided to combine the two things.
 Every time I find a poem I like, I copy it into my butterfly journal. This poem by A.R. Ammons was one of the latest additions to my book and I just had to share it with you.
 
I hope it inspires much thought…

My New Year’s Resolution: What I Plan to Read in 2010– Feel Free to Add Your Book Suggestions

I will be updating this list and crossing out books as I read them. Perhaps I will even post my thoughts on the various titles as they are completed.
 
1. Jane Eyre: by Charlotte Bronte    I rather like this one! Two thumbs up! And the A&E movie is great too.

2. The Portrait of Dorian Grey: by Oscar Wilde

3. The Awakening: by Kate Chopin  Yuck! officially horrid… I read it, though. Affairs and suicide- what cheery crapola.

4. Heart of Darkness: by Joseph Conrad

5. Things Fall Apart: by Chinua Achebe

6. Walden: by Henry David Thoreau

7. Pride and Prejudice: by Jane Austen Ugh.

8. A Room of One’s Own: by Virginia Woolf

9. To Have and Have Not: by Ernest Hemingway Violent, depressing, and he switches narrators constantly! If it was made into a movie again, the main character should be played by Sean Connery.

10. Republic by Plato

11. The Man Who Laughed by Victor Hugo

12. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

13. The Shack by William Young A very interesting book. My official overall opinion of the book is not yet settled. I have issues with some of the theological components, but at the same time, the message of God’s love is quite profound.

14. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney   Read. About what I expected: a uncool middle-schooler’s survival.

15. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

16. Cracker! by Cynthia Kadohata

17. Schooled by Gordon Korman

18. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban  A lovely little story about overcoming fear, stepping out of comfort zones, what really matters in life, and how our dreams may not turn out according to plan, but that’s not always a bad thing.

19. Blue Lipstick by John Grandits  Absolutely delightful! A little young for me (about a highschool age girl.) The format is fun! All poetry in different shapes and such.

20. No Talking by Andrew Clements Strange, but a neat snapshot of non-verbal communication.

21. Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm

22. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

23. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell

24. Beneath My Mother’s Feet by Amjed Qamar

25. Knucklehead. by Jon Scieszka

26. Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor

27. Mogo, the Third Warthog by Donna Jo Napoli Suprisingly delightful! By the end I was in love with a sweet baboon and a rebel warthog.

28. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix Excellent book! But not good to read late at night while trying to fall asleep. I didn’t expect a sci-fi/mystery/thriller… but it was a pleasant surprise! I can’t wait for book two!

29. Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell This one deserves a wow. What a stunning sensitive, yet real picture of the Vietnam War.

30. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

31. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

32. Heaven by Randy Alcorn

33. Swimming in the Sea of Talmud by Michael Katz & Gershon Schwartz

34. The Amazing Adventures of the Jewish People by Max I. Dimon

35. ON JUDAISM by Emanuel Feldman

36. TO BE A JEWISH WOMAN by Lisa Aiken

37. TRIUMPH OF SURVIVAL by Berel Wein

38. The Dark Side of Islam by R. C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb