Saturday, January 7, 2012

mini readings...random thoughts

The first week of this new year is nearly gone already. Time--will you please slow the f*ck down already?!! Sheesh.

One of my hopes for the new year is to read at least one short story, one essay, and one poem each week. I don't want to call these goals, because that might lead to this being a stressful "oh crap, I failed at yet something else" kind of thing. And that is so not what I want.

I'm doing this (or hoping to, anyway) both because I truly enjoy this kind of reading and don't do nearly enough of it and because I have so many books of short stories, essays, and poetry started and it would feel good to actually finish some of them.

With the first week about to come to end, I'm happy to say that I'm having a successful run so far. (I know, big deal--it's just one week. But I'll take whatever successes I can get!) I didn't however, totally stick to script. Yes, I read from a book of poetry I already had started. And yes, I read from a book of essays I already had started. But the short stories...well, I couldn't resist cracking open a shiny new book that Rich was sweet enough to get me for Christmas.

What You Wish For: Stories and Poems for Darfur is a collection of short stories put together to help Darfuri refugees by supporting library development in refugee camps. From the jacket flap:

Each story and poem has its own affecting power and celebrates the simple wishes--home, family, safety and love, things we all wish for--of the Darfuri refugees this collection honors with incredible grace, beauty and oft-times humor.

The first story in the book, the one I read this week, is titled "The Strange Story of Bobby Box." This is the first of Alexander McCall Smith's writing I've ever read, though I've long wanted to give him a try. While I didn't fall completely in love with this story, there were definitely things about it that I did love, most especially its folktale-ish feel. I've got great hopes for this book overall--how could I not with its incredible list of contributing authors, including among many others, John Green, Nikki Giovanni, and Jane Yolen.

My poem for the week came from Atlas by Katrina Vandenberg. Frankly, it's positively disgraceful that I haven't finished this book before now. I started it so long ago, and was loving it to pieces...but then somewhere along the line it got set aside and buried in one pile of books after another. This is my opportunity to finish it. Finally.

I'll never be accused of being very poetically literate. Don't get me wrong--I love poetry. Well, some poetry. But I have to admit that I don't like to have to work very hard at it. And I've no earthly idea how to talk about it. This week's poem was "The Problem with the Pills." Stark, depressing, and so very realistic. While not my favorite poem thus far from this collection, it's definitely affected me and I find it entering my thoughts unexpectedly.

And finally, my essay came from The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. Another book I started long ago, but set aside for far too long. This is one of those books that I really, really, really wanted to read for a long time, yet it scared the living crap out of me. I was so afraid that it would be over my head. Rich tried to reassure me that this was Dawkins writing for the layperson, and I didn't need to be afraid...but well, I sort of doubted him. :P But I shouldn't have. This book really *is* accessible. Which isn't to say that it's always easy reading for me. I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind for heavy concentration while reading most of these essays. (In other words, this is not a book I can read late at night or while in the midst of a bout of fibro fog.)

This week's essay was "Rendezvous 6: New World Monkeys" and "The Howlers Monkey's Tale." It was incredibly interesting, its focus on color vision. But it was one of those that demanded full attention. Okay, more than full attention--some paragraphs took two or three readings. And unfortunately for me, I likely won't retain much of what I learned for long. This book is just so jammed-packed with fascinating information. So much information. And my memory just ain't what it used to be. :( But hey, even if I only remember a tenth of what I learn, I'm still enjoying the journey, right?

So anyway, hooray for me--one week successfully completed. :D

(Project progress: Misc. Projects--Read one short story a week, Read one essay a week, and Read one poem a week)


Kailana said...

YAY! I would like to do something like this, too. I even read a short story and essay this week... Poetry is my problem but I am working on that! I started the book you gave me for Christmas. :)

Eva said...

Gooooooo Debi! :D So far, I've managed to stick to my photo-a-day hope. And I'm totally patting myself on the back for lasting a week! So you should too!

DesLily said...

hmmmm doesn't reading a blog (any blog) qualify as an essay?? just a thought... heh..

you do more than any one person I know!!...

Chris said...

So I'm actually kind of happy that you haven't finished Atlas yet :) Because you still have more presents to come!! Do you know she has a new collection coming out this year? I'm so freaking excited!! I preordered it. It's the book I think I'm most excited about for this year so far. I've never loved poetry as much as I love hers. No other poet has ever moved me like she does.

Trish said...

Definitely don't want to think about one week gone already! Yikes!!

Great job with the reading!! I also let short stories, poetry, and essays fall to the wayside but can't seem to figure out how to motivate myself to get to them when I have such little reading time.

I agree with DesLily--you are a superwoman!! ;)