Friday, November 4, 2016
WHAT I'M READING V. 16
M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
The stories are deliciously spooky and it was fitting to be listening to these stories (read by Neil Gaiman!) during the last couple of weeks of October. I strongly dislike horror films but I do like eery stories about magic and ghosts and strange happenings. Think junior-high-campsfire stories, those are my scene: just enough to get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up but not enough to cause nightmares. It's a fine line I know, but Neil Gaiman pulls it off so artfully here. Best of all, reading these stories made me ache to go write my own magical story.
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
This book was first published in 1986, but I had never even heard of it until a friend recommended it to me. I'm only a few chapters in and I appreciated it as soon as I started. Have you guys noticed I've been reading a lot of writing books? It feels like gaining a teacher, a friend. There can never be too much encouragement for this thing that I've claimed as a lifelong pursuit.
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
I saw this on a book list of my sister's, realized I had never read it, and got my hands on a copy. Whew. The writing is gripping and by gripping I mean hands-around-my-heart-hard-to-breathe sort of thing. It's heart-breaking, precise, evocative, mythic, and beautiful. It is one of those books that make you feel depressed knowing you will never be able to write that way, and you drink up all of the words and feel all of the feelings.
The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins
Poems have a way of yelling. "WORDS MATTER!" and I love them for that. I especially love this collection of poems. It makes me feel less lonely. A friend pressed this into my hands and I'm probably going to read through this book twice. To give you a taste, this is the introduction to the book. It's called, "You, Reader":
I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you.
That it was I who got up early to sit in the kitchen
and mention with a pen
the rain-soaked windows,
the ivy wallpaper,
and the goldfish circling its bowl.
Go ahead and turn aside
bit your lip and tear out the page
but, listen - it was just a matter of time
before one of us happened
to notice the unlit candles
and the clock humming on the wall.
Plus, nothing happened that morning-
a song on the radio
a car whistling along the road outside
and I was only thinking
about the shakers of salt and pepper
that were standing side by side on a place mat
I wondered if they had become friends
after all these years
or if they were still strangers to one another
like you and I
who manage to be known and unknown
to each other at the same time -
me at this table with a bowl of pears,
you leaning in a doorway somewhere
near some blue hydrangeas, reading this.