Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 Poets to Fall In Love With

As poetry month comes to an end, I would like to take a few moments and reflect on some of my favorite poets. I have always been an avid reader, but poetry was something I wasn't super into until about five years ago.

Jim Harrison

In a university poetry class, I was assigned Songs of Unreason  by Jim Harrison. I fell in love with this collection and every thing about it. I went into it with very low expectations. It was a poetry collection about horses and rural living - I am a suburban girl through and through, but it was beautiful.

To date, it is the only Jim Harrison collection I have read, but I plan on reading more. If you haven't read anything by him, I highly suggest Songs of Unreason

Kim Addonizio

What can I say about this woman? No one embraces being a bad ass poet quite like Kim does. I've read a lot of her poems, her fiction, some things she has helped edit, etc. I love her because she's not afraid of anything when it comes to writing. She is an outstanding poet and such a voice for the modern women. 

She also published an anthology called Dorothy Parker's Elbow about writer's and tattoos. That's how I learned that Dorothy Parker (another great poet) and a bunch of other authors and poets had/have tattoos.

Side note: I am pretty sure reading Kim Addonizio's poems is what pushed me over the edge to get my first tattoo. The first collection I read by her and my first tattoo were very close in proximity. Thanks, Kim. 

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni came to my university and did a poetry reading. The next day I ran into her at a local Starbucks (it was a small university town, so, not too many Starbucks to go to) and fan-girled over a poet. I have been in love with her poetry since I discovered "Woman" and I had the opportunity to be face-to-face with her in a Starbucks. Of course, I used that opportunity to say "Oh my god, you're Nikki Giovanni!!" which caused most people in Starbucks to turn and look at me like I was crazy. It's my generation's fault for not having an appreciation of Great Poets.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to see her speak. It was life-changing.

Lang Leav

I am just discovering Ms. Leav and I love her. Every time I read one of her poems, most of which have to deal with love or writing poetry, I feel like they explain an exact feeling I have had. Plus, she plays around with style and form and she does so very boldly. I love poets who aren't afraid to play around and experiment with different forms.

She also has awesome art too, so, go google her!

Side note: Her boyfriend, Michael Faudet, just published Dirty Pretty Things, also a poetry collection. I just bought it and am excited to read it.

Elizabeth Bishop

I had to do at least one classic poet and Elizabeth Bishop is a great one. She was another one who liked to play around with form. She put so much effort in her poetry and took care to make sure the poems were the way she wanted them. There were some poems (I believe "Waiting Room" was one) that she would work on for ten years or so before she published.

Plus, I feel that she helped pave the way for women writers of this generation with how open they could be. 

Poetry will always be a big part of my life. These are just a few poets I love who have had an influence on me. I am always looking for new poems/poets to fall in love with and I can only wish that one day my local bookstore will have a bigger poetry section. 

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Worth the Read: No
I do not consider myself a Jane Austen purist. I'm far from it, actually. I thought it very clever of Ms. James to add an apology to Ms. Austen, saying that she in no way, shape or form meant to offend fans of Pride and Prejudice. With that said, however, I was disappointed in the portrayal of Ms. Austen's characters in this novel.
     Lydia is her usual self, Mary and Catherine are absent from the book and Jane and Lizzy are not at all the Jane and Lizzy readers have loved. On top of that, Mr. Darcy seems uncharacteristically compassionate and Bingley, the man I'd originally fallen in love with, seemed very dimwitted. Georgiana was much more of a flirt, although we didn't get to know her super well in Pride and Prejudice, so, Ms. James took full creative liberty with her.
     As for the plot, I found it rather boring. I feel that mysteries need to be compelling to the point of always making readers wonder what will happen next, but during this book, I found myself thinking, "When will this end?!" The passages in this book
     You have to give credit to PD James for being in her 90's and still writing. That is the impressive thing about this book. With that said, for a contemporary mystery novel, this book was  very padded with words, had boring characters and I didn't find it to be worth the read.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading Challenge 50 States

The other day, I discussed that I was trying to read a book for every letter of the alphabet. Another one of my goals has always been to read a book set in every state. Going off of the list of books I have read so far this year, I have achieved Iowa, Alabama, California, New York, Oregon (tentative), Nebraska, and New Jersey.

If anyone can actually confirm that Fight Club did in fact take place in Portland (I know there is much debate on it), please tell me and define your evidence. If you think it took place somewhere else, please let me know that too.

I seem to have a problem where I keep reading books set in New York. I have three that I have read set there and I am currently reading Sex In The City. I need to be consciously aware to be reading things set in different states.

Last year, I missed Tennessee, Wisconsin (although I just found Shotgun Lovesongs and I plan on reading that for Wisconsin this year), Rhode Island, North Dakota, and New Hampshire, which always seem hard to find books. Some other states I might have stretched if the book had multiple settings. Okay, I admit in some cases, one or two scenes took place in a state and I used it. This year, there are no cutting corners. The book's major setting must be the state it counts for.

Is anyone else doing similar reading challenges for 2015? Anybody have any reading challenges to recommend?

If not, anyone have any favorite books set in states I haven't read yet?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Denim Day

Tomorrow is Denim Day, so, I am encouraging everyone to wear jeans.

For a while, I felt like America was moving forward in the name of feminism and working towards helping women. Now I feel like there is a constant war against women and Denim Day is as important as ever.

If you don't know, Denim Day was started because a woman in Italy was told her jeans were too tight and, therefore, the man who raped her couldn't get in trouble. She was too enticing. While wearing jeans. So, wear tight jeans if you think women should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of being raped. If you don't think that, don't read my blog.

Here is why it is more important than ever:

Companies can deny insurance for people on birth control because of religious freedom. Forget that some women take it for hormonal balance, health reasons, etc. They believe it's unethical, so, they believe women employed for them should just suffer through those problems.

Purvi Patel. If you don't know who that is, I encourage you to look her up. She was just sentenced to prison for 20 years from what was most likely a miscarriage. They termed it "feticide" even though there wasn't enough evidence to actually convict her of it. The state of Indiana gave that woman 20 years when what she really needs is a hug. Losing a baby is hard. Mentally. Physically.
Indiana was the first state to convict a woman for this. So, basically, our country just convicted a woman for losing a child. Last time I checked my clock, time seemed to be moving forward, not backward.

Last week, Washington DC lawmakers passed a bill (that Congress and others will hopefully shoot down) that would allow employers to fire pregnant women because of, you guessed it, "religious freedom." If a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, they can can her. If a women is having trouble getting pregnant and she gets pregnant through IVF, they can get rid of her because it goes against the natural way of conceiving a baby.

The War on Women is real, folks. These are just a few examples. Please wear denim tomorrow, not just to show your support for rape survivors, but to show your support for women and their freedoms everywhere.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

As part of my blog, I am going to do book reviews on Mondays. I haven't been feeling well today, so, I pulled a review I wrote a long time ago for a different blog that never got published. I hope you enjoy it. In the future, I plan on changing the style of them and making the reviews longer, but, for tonight, this will have to do.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Worth The Read: Yes
Jeannette Walls gives readers a very compelling memoir of growing up with an alcoholic father. Her quick-paced, to the point writing style makes this book a quick read and an "unputdownable."
     She provides readers with an account of what it is like to be always on-the-go with an alcoholic father. It starts off when Walls is three and her family does the "skiddadle" - leaving town in the middle of the night. Her family does this often, moving from place to place, before settling down in Welch. Walls and her siblings quickly hate it and cannot wait until they are able to leave.
     Her father is a constant gambler and drinker while her mother refuses to do work, claiming that everyone is alright. The kids not only don't always have enough money for food, they often don't have money for electricity or running water or any of the other common luxuries that most of us are given.
     I cringed at the starvation that these kids endured, cried when the children are pleading for the drinking to stop, and stood back in awe of the brilliance of Walls and her siblings. I fell in love with this book until I stood back and remembered that it is a true story, and that left utterly heartbroken.

     Overall, I was very impressed with this read.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reading Challenge A-Z

I have always wanted to read a book for each letter of the alphabet in a year. I will update my progress at least once a month and keep my blog updated on my progress.

Unfortunately, I find a lot of books I want to read have the same first letter as books I have already read. So, therefore, I keep repeating "T" and "L" and I need to stop doing that.

So far, I have accomplished B, C, D, F, L, M, R, T, and U. 

B- BADD by Tim Tharp
C- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke
D- Dead End by Jason Myers
F- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
L- Like Water for Chocolate by Briana Esquivel
M- The Missions by Jason Myers
R- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
T- This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
U- Underwire by Jennifer Hayden

I will try to get reviews going, but I may skip over a few of the ones listed above. If you have any questions, or want to know what I thought of any of them, please feel free to ask. Also, if you have any recommendations for books that I should read (that may begin with unusual letters like "Q" or "X") please let me know! I am always looking for new and different things to read.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

About This Blog and Me

My Books

I am literature obsessed. It's more than an obsession, it's a disease. Books run my life and I will read anything I can get my hands on. Lately, I have been on a Jason Myers kick, but I have an appreciation for everything. If I could, I would go back in time, live among the authors of the Lost Generation, and seduce F. Scott away from Zelda.

Books on my list of all-time favorites:

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (I like this one so much, I got a tattoo inspired by it.)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

A few of my (most recently read) favorites:

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Mission by Jason Myers
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Vein Fire by Lucia Adams

As you can see, I have a soft spot for fiction. Fiction, however, is not the only thing I read. I thoroughly enjoy poetry. Drama is high on my list, but I would rather see the play. I find memoirs enjoyable. I always have a graphic novel going. I love books about feminism and cultures and social sciences. Give me a genre and I will give you a title I like.

My Running

Five years ago, I broke my back falling down some stairs. I was told that I would probably always have back pain and that I probably wouldn't be able to do exercises that would be hard on my back. A few months ago, I decided I was going to prove them wrong and I ran a 15k. Now I am training for a half marathon. One of these days, I am hoping to join 1% of the population and complete a full marathon.

                                (My 15k. I am on the left and my sister is next to me)

My next run will be in the Avenue of the Giants. After that, I am going to take it easy for a while, really focus on strength training, do a few 5ks and start training for Disney's Rebel Challenge, which is in January 2016.

Also, while I run, I contribute to my bookishness by listening to books on tape.

My Other Interests

I love going to the theater. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is my favorite vacation destination. It's a gorgeous town and the plays are never a let down. Ashland is a truly amazing place and I think everyone needs to go there at least once in their life.

I studied English in the wonderful town of Chico. While there, I overachieved and ran an honors society, taught English classes, maintained a good GPA, graduated with honors, took the maximum amount of units I could take per semester, competed in Speech and Debate, and graduated on time. I'm still not sure how.

After that, I wasn't sure what to do with my life, so, I hopped on a plane to Spain and taught English for a year. When I came back, I became a legal assistant at a wonderful law firm. It is a field that I never thought I would get into. I stumbled in it when I was lost and I am glad I did.

I love trivia and knitting. I like optimistic quotes. I am a feminist who believes in equal rights for everyone and I hope to see a day when this country doesn't discriminate against people. I write things. Poetry. Fiction. Trying my hand at blogging.

I would love for you to share my journey with me through blogging, reading, and running, so, follow me.

Thank you and enjoy.