Friday, April 27, 2007

National Poetry Month

Today's "Poem in your pocket" printout features Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, William Blake - and Emily Dickinson:

"I'm nobody! Who are you?"

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

(In fact, aren't we telling our names to each other - and admiring - each other's Blogs?)

Stephanie of So Many Books has posted a poem by Rumi that will go into my pocket. Here is the beginning of the poem. You will have to visit Stephanie to read the rest - (and please do!)
Book Beauty

Here’s the end of that story about the old woman who wanted
to lure a man with strange

cosmetics. She made a paste of pages from the Qur’an to fill
the deep creases on her face and

neck with.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Booking through Thursday

Does what you read vary by the season? For instance, Do you read different kinds of books in the summer than the winter?

Not really. I used to read one story every winter - "White nights" by Dostoevsky - but since I misplaced my copy of his short stories, I seem to have misplaced that ritual as well. Thinking of it now, I miss the story and the ritual.

The edition I used to read had his other stories as well ("Gentle creature," etc.) but "White nights" was special. The ritual began in high school amongst my friends, the literary misfits who would gather in the prop room behind the school auditorium. We would read aloud from Creely, or Ginsberg, or Rilke, or we would do a reading of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." (I was Honey, always. No one else wanted to play Honey. They all wanted to be Martha, and they anticipated the moment when they could bray "I DON'T BRAY!!!". It was, I'm afraid, better casting than I'd like to admit. I never could bray.) "White nights" was the nighttime gleam on the white snow as we would walk home - never discussed, but always there.

If so, do you break it down by genre, length of book, or...? .......


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dystopian challenge

Have you seen this?

Dystopian Challenge

Heaven help me, I just joined.
My selections:

P.D. James - Children of men

Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake
Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's cradle
Philip Dick - Do androids dream of electric sheep?


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Booking through Thursday

  • Okay, there must be something you read that's a guilty pleasure . . . a Harlequin romance stashed under the mattress. A cheesy sci-fi book tucked in the back of the freezer. A celebrity biography, a phoned-in Western . . . something that you'd really rather not be spotted reading. Even just a novel if you're a die-hard non-fiction fan. Come on, confess. We won't hold it against you!
Don't forget to leave a link to your actual response in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Well, yes, there is, but it's only embarrassing because its author has been so thoroughly repudiated as a wise man -- Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. I bought my first copy at the Woolworth's in town when I was about 14. The clerk didn't want to sell it to me because she was afraid it was "dirty" - and when I protested, saying it was about a brother and sister... well, she really hesitated. But she did let me buy it, and it was better than any 5 & 10-cent store candy!

Even at 14, I was a seeker. I had already written a rather long term paper about Taoism for my poor 9th-grade history teacher, and I already had read Lao Tse, Alan Watts, the Bhagavad Gita, Wordsworth, Tennyson -- all of the usual suspects. (Did you know that Timothy Leary did a translation of the Tao Te Ching? My poor history teacher...)

Franny was me, a little older, and blessed with the perfect eccentric family (and old, smelly cat). I knew what it was like to weep, clutching a book as a talisman, or a touchstone. I knew (it's a bitch to be precocious) what it was like to have an existential breakdown. I even knew what it was like to be so damned sick of your own ego that you couldn't face your own talents for fear of being admired and liking it.

I'm still searching for a pea-green, cloth-bound book of wisdom and solace. Maybe one of these days I'll create a commonplace book and bind it in green cloth. Or maybe I should just bind a copy of Franny and Zooey in green cloth! Whatever - I'll continue to dip in and visit Franny, my first literary sister. (Or maybe my second, or maybe my third - I don't want to make Jo March or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm jealous. In fact, it's about time I revisited them, too.)


Sunday, April 15, 2007

On becoming fearless - Arianna Huffington

I promised this would be continued.... From the Stacks challenge

This is not a self-help book. It is neither a memoir nor an anodyne for the fearful. Some of Huffington's principles can be found in books that are anodynes for the fearful woman. Abandon false security, take risks, do not be deterred by those who would call you a bitch.

For that kind of advice, we don't need Arianna. We do need her, though, to understand that the goal of the fearless is not only personal. The stated goal of too many books and media shrinks is too small. Arianna wants to create fearless leaders who can change the world.

The thread that knits this book together is both small and huge. Begin, she says, by withdrawing, meditating, thinking, and creating a inner, quiet place, a true sanctuary that always will be intact and accessible.

Examine, then, your enemies, whether they are people in your life, phobias, local iniquities, global disasters, or the ingrained toxins that want to repel the possibility of change. Do not allow these heaps of foes to dishearten you. To believe that you will only be able to develop fearlessness when the heap becomes smaller is to live behind an counterproductive wall. Vanquish the next enemy, then the next, then the next.

(This imagery reminded me of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bardo Theodol, in which the path to the next life is strewn with things that frightened you. You must challenge those fears to grow into a higher life.)

From your own center, says Arianna, let your action be guided by the compassion and interconnectedness that Sue Smalley (who contributes a brief essay) believes to be encoded in human DNA. (Arianna believes that we have a "Fifth Instinct" for spirituality, also hardwired.) Mythic images may serve as guides for this life - Hestia, for example, or Hermes - and may teach us how to be fearless.

My favorite part of this book showed Arianna's own awakening to the might of the status quo. Early in her career, she wrote a biography of Picasso that enraged the art world because she dared to write the blunt facts of Picasso's relationships with women. These facts showed him to be a mysogynist despot in his private life. The art establishment howled -- but, but, he was a great man! a genius! Geniuses deserve a little slack in how they interact with mortals!

Arianna weathered the tempest and went on to write, speak out, run for political office, and develop The Huffington Post. She embodies fearlessness, and this book may inspire some of the same to you.

(And I still want to be Arianna when I grow up!)


Teabird's reading challenges

I'm going to create a new blog, where I will keep a running list of the reading challenges that I join, here --

Teabird and her challenges

... because I'm having a hard time keeping track of them, myself! My reviews and musings, of course, will remain right here, where they belong!

melanie (a/k/a teabird)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

By the decade challenge: The song of the lark

The Song of the Lark - Willa Cather.

Why did I select this book? I'd never read Cather, and I knew that the plot included opera. Well, now I have, and it does.

The plot - the trajectory of a young girl's life from small-town Colorado to international acclaim as a Wagnerian diva - is almost incidental. The huge Colorado landscape will, one knows, transmute itself into the vistas of Valhalla. The landscape itself will be as much a character as any human being, and will be given a voice more eloquent and true than any human.

In fact, every character's inner life centers on the radiant promise and fulfillment of Thea Kronenborg's artistry. Even the dying thoughts of a hideously-injured trainman are reverences to Thea. Thea contains multitudes, and they all are consumed by Thea.

They all worship with the same voice, designed to express grand principles, both aesthetic and philosophic. Unless I kept track of the the "he said" antecedents, I had no idea who was thinking, talking, or observing.

Perhaps I truly began to lose heart when Theas' musical mentors steered her toward Wagner. I loathe Wagner and nearly everything his music has influenced. Certainly, I always lose interest when a novel seems to be nothing but a duck blind for the author's philosophy. I would have stopped reading well before the end, since I did not care a whit about any character except Thea's mother, but I soldiered on in the name of - oh, who cares....

I'm not sorry that I read this book, but I am glad that it's over.

Notable passages (quotation herein does not constitute approbation by Teabird):

"Though their challenge is universal and eternal, the stars get no answer but that - the brief light flashed back to them from the eyes of the young who unaccountable aspire."
"Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is."
"He was observant, truthful, and kindly - perhaps the chief requisite in a agood story-teller."
"[A rabbit] seemed to be lapping up the moonlight like cream."
"[Thea's sister had] the kind of fishy curiosity which justifies itself by an expression of horror."


Booking through Thursday

Have you ever missed an important appointment because you have become so engrossed in a book you forgot the time or were up so late reading that you didn't wake up in time? Been late to work because you couldn't resist the temptation and left the house too late?

Have I ever? I'll even stay up and finish a book I don't like! In fact, I did that last night, reading The Song of the Lark and beginning to write it up. (Watch this space for a snark attack.) I could not go to bed until I'd finished The Woman in White, Savage Beauty, Member of the Wedding, The Great Gatsby (for the 80th time!), Brother Cadafel tales, The Thirteenth Tale (which also disappointed me) - so many books.

As for being late for work, however - no. There I draw the line. Were I to lose my job, how would I buy books?


Monday, April 09, 2007

National Poetry Month has a list of 30 things we can do to celebrate National Poetry Month.
Hmm. Let's see.

I'm a New Yorker, so I can celebrate Poem in your Pocket Day (a bit early). I keep the poem-a-day calendar on my desk, and often stuff a poem in my pocket. The poem that I stuffed into my pocket today (actually, it's the poem from April 6, but no matter) is by Molly Peacock:

The Land of Tears

You can stop in the spot you're already in
and enter the Land of Tears. It takes
a liquid thought inside the tin
mixing bowl of the brain pan, full of aches
from the scraping of your mind-spoon to make
the journey of the ingredients, the batter
that you turn out into a pan and bake
back into your old self, now new matter,
all because of that liquid thought mixed-up
with your dry milled existence. Curiously
simple tears stop the furiously
churned air, as a door opening up
stops an argument. You know what you meant.
As, after a rain, the air is brilliant.

I think this also qualifies as reciting a poem to family and friends.

I already subscribe to their free newsletter.

Next, I think I'll write to the post office and suggest Allen Ginsberg for the subject of a stamp.

It's a start!


Saturday, April 07, 2007

We're honored!

Thinking  Blogger Award

Chris of Book-a-Rama has selected Tea Reads for a Thinking Blogger award - an honor, indeed! Thank you!

Now we get to nominate five blogs that make us think. Our choices are:

1. The Crescent Knitter- Khadijha Caitlin's funny and serious thoughts on books, knitting, and community
2. Chitt'svrtti - focus on books of fantasy, myth, magic and knitting
3. Basset Knitter- Paula's knitting, poetry, photography, and humor
4. The Ravell'd Sleave - Bridget's thoughts on knitting, books, and everyday madness
5. Needles on the move- Diane and Heather, who allow us think of possibilities, choices, and doing, not only dreaming.

Now each of the nominees gets to nominate! Here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to the thinking blogger post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Again - thank you! from the three ladies of Tea Reads.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Booking through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

  1. Just out of curiosity, as we enter into Passover and Easter season... have you ever read the Bible? Just the odd chapter or Psalm? The whole thing? (Or, almost the whole thing? It's some heavy reading, of course, and those "begats" get kind of tedious.) I've read the entire New Testament, but only about 2/3 of the Hebrew Bible - which is odd, since I am Jewish. (Or, should I say, I'm a Jewess. I've been called "Jewess" by more people than you would believe!)

  2. If so, was it from religious motivation or from a literary perspective? Stuck with nothing else to read in a hotel room the Gideon's have visited? Any combination? I took a course as an undergraduate, "The Bible as Literature," which was one of the more useful courses I took as an English major. It illuminated the Biblical references in English and American lit and opened up a new path of understanding. At that point, I had never read the New Testament at all. A few years later, some friends became involved in the Christian Movement and I read it to please them before they took me to visit a Christian commune. (Loved the commune!)

  3. If not, why not? Against your religious principles? Too boring? Just not interested? Something you're planning on taking care of when you get marooned on a desert island? Not to be controversial, but how could it be a problem to read about other peoples' beliefs? If nothing else, it may begin to illuminate the differences amongst people. (Forgive me, it's my hippie sensibility. My freak flag always will fly!)

  4. And while we're on the subject... what about the other great religious works out there? Are they more to your liking? Neither more nor less, actually, except for the Tao Te Ching, which I almost included on my list of 10 books I could not live without. I'm not a believer, so I read all religious works (and I do, actually, read all religious works) as literature, and as food for my love of mythology and teaching stories.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ten books you cannot live without

From Kailana's Written World -- (in no particular order)

Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass- Lewis Carroll
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Little Women - Lousia May Alcott
Possession - A.S. Byatt
Pride and Prejudice (or Emma) - Jane Austen
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

How hard to narrow it down to ten books that the world (or I) could not live without! I can presume for myself, as of this moment, but the world? The books I chose are good reads and books that (I presume) illuminate many of the aspects of the human spirit, both good and ill. They never fail me.

What would your choices be? Be sure to check out the list of participants on Kailana's blog, and comment there (and here, if you like!) if you decide to participate.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

paper dolls

I saw this over at A Garden Carried in the Pocket (Jenclair's wonderful blog) and now I can't stay away --

Legacy Pride paper dolls!
Have you always wanted to dress Jane Austen's Emma? Emily Dickinson? Healthcliff?

Since I'm in the middle of listening to Emma, I linked to her page, but everyone else is just as wonderful. You can choose a doll and dress her/him right there on line. How about Frida Kahlo? Punch and Judy? Maybe I'm a simple girl at heart, but this is so amusing I can hardly stop playing.