It's August, and that does mean that I have to at least start thinking about the new semester. Right now, that is all I have been doing is thinking about it. Oh, and I did pile all my new textbooks on my desk. That's about it.
As always, summer has gotten away from me. I didn't get all the writing projects done that I wanted to get done, but I wasn't a total slouch, either. The last few weeks or so, I have spent considerable time updating my Goodreads account. I found Goodreads a few years ago and then somehow I lost it (too caught up in all the social media, I suppose). Anyways, I have been copying and pasting all my reviews from my old blog on Goodreads in case I decide to take my old Wordpress blog down. This way, at least members can read my recommendations and reviews.
Speaking of reviews -- I have posted two new reviews under my Book Picks tab (these reviews have also been posted on GoodReads). The first review is a poetry book titled, Waiting at the Dead End Diner by Rebecca Schumejda. As I stated in my review, the world needs more waitress poems.
Here is my contribution: "She Likes to Work Graveyard" published in Fried Chicken and Coffee.
Finally, Followers and Friends of my blogs and website know that I have studied and presented numerous papers on Centralia, a town that slowly disappeared because of an underground coal fire. Centralia has taken on a mythical quality in pop culture and indeed makes an appearance in the work of poets Sherry Fairchok, Barbara Crooker and Karen Blomain. Two of my favorite novels, Coal Run by Tawni O'Dell and Those Who Favor Fire by Lauren Wolk, both feature Centralia-like settings.
But, there's a new book in town. Natalie S. Harnett has recently published a novel titled The Hollow Ground which is also inspired by Centralia. It's a fantastic read -- especially for anyone who likes coming-of-age stories or is interested in the Anthracite region of Pennsylvania.
Now, on to the remaining days of summer!
Final papers and tests have been graded. Final grades have been posted. Final ceremonies including awards programs, end-of-the-year parties, and graduation have been celebrated.
So, let the summer festivities begin!
Every year, JCC releases a summer reading list to campus staff, faculty members, and administrators. Today, I am posting my contributions. All of these works are books I have read this year, and because they are all by female authors, they would be great picks for the 14 books by women authors challenge for the year 2014. See this post for more information about this challenge.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
I am a fan of Benjamin’s novels, and her latest book, The Aviator’s Wife which explores the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh did not disappoint me. Critics have raved that the novel was historically accurate – I just loved learning about the woman behind the successes and sorrows of Charles Lindbergh.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler
Fowler’s retelling of the relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda is a page turner gives an interesting perspective about this notorious relationship. Was Zelda Fitzgerald’s beloved muse or his literary downfall? This novel suggests that she was neither – but an important literary figure in her own right.
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
Jamison’s collection of essays explores empathy in its many forms. While some of the essays may be a little too academic for many readers’ tastes, other essays, including the ones that explore the world of medical actors, the people who suffer from Morgellons disease, and the victims of a murder that sent innocent people to jail, are worth reading over and over again. In her blurb, writer Mary Karr states this book “will make you a better human being.” I don’t know if it made me a better human being but many of Jamison’s stories kept me up late at night thinking about how the world (including myself) can be more empathetic.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Kent’s book is a haunting novel that retells the story Agnes Magnusdottir, who was convicted for her role in the murder of two men and was the last person to be executed in Iceland. Readers will fall in love with Kent’s lyrical picture of the starkly beautiful landscape and rugged characters.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizbeth Kolbert
In her newest book, Kolbert explores our planet’s histories of extinctions by looking at research and data from dozens of scientists, both past and present. Yet, her book is not just a scientific synopsis – indeed, readers will be with Kolbert as she travels the earth looking at the remains of extinct animals and searching for those that are slowly dying.
Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet by Daniella Martin
Martin journeys around the world and makes a great case for how the benefits of eating insects may be a feasible solution to the world’s hunger problems. Balancing logic and emotional appeals, she examines how insects are cost beneficial and healthy. She even includes recipes at the end of her book!
Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall
It’s true that memoirs exploring mental health conditions seem to be a dime a dozen in today’s market, but Pershall’s book which follows her journey through her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, is both funny and touching without added melodrama.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
This book is marketed as a young adult novel, but don’t let this stop you from reading this fun and engaging retelling of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau from the doctor’s daughter point of view. (And you don’t have to read Wells’ book to understand the world of Megan Shepherd!)
In the blogging world, I have read a lot about book clubs/reading groups/individuals aiming to read 14 books by women in 2014. My initial thought was, wow, I read a lot -- reading 14 books by women in one year should not be hard.
I keep a list of books I read, so I looked at my tallies for this year. So far, in 2014, I have read 18 books and only four have been by women. That surprised me; thus, I decided to take a look at what I read last year.
In 2013, I read 209 books. I read a lot of different kinds of books, so included in that list are novels, literary nonfiction, nature writing, memoir, poetry, and young adult books. Out of 209 books, 126 books were written by women. To break these numbers down even further, 25 of these books by women were novels, 21 were poetry collections (both chapbooks and full-length collections), and 47 were young adult novels (YA novels are my guilty pleasures). The remaining books were memoir, nature writing, and history. So yes, I read a lot of books by women.
However, what I did notice was that while I read a lot of poetry books by women, I don't read a lot of nature books (books that are comprised by individual essays about nature or book length scientific studies) by women. Since I am trying my hand at nature writing/personal essays, I am realizing that I simply need to read more women writers who are exploring this genre.
For more information about this challenge, see Kathleen Kirk's latest blog post.
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.