The Week in Reading #imwayr 4/27/20

On the blog:

We’re down to the last four days of National Poetry Month, and I am counting them down. I have loved my project more than I expected to, but my brain is tired! I wrote some about my process and the differences between writing prose and poetry here, and I shared a few important articles from my online reading here.

In reading:

I always think plot summaries of sci-fi novels sound ridiculous and overly complicated (which is probably why it took me so long to discover that I love sci-fi). So I won’t even attempt to try a summary here. A Memory Called Empire is nominated for a Hugo Award this year, and it’s well worth a read. I found it a bit too long but I also gladly kept it a week past its due date back at the library to finish it. I found the world-building and characters quite compelling.

Another amazing book about teaching and creativity and writing and drawing and life from Lynda Barry. I am entirely obsessed with the series of brilliant books she’s written about the courses she teaches at the University of Wisconsin. I reread Syllabus, What It Is, and Picture This regularly, and I suspect I’ll be reading and rereading Making Comics too. It’s perhaps not quite as balanced between exercise and theory as her earlier books (more exercises here), but that’s ok. I wanted to do basically all of the exercises myself (in fact, that may be my May project), and I can’t wait to try them as prompts for student writing.

I didn’t know that Laura Purdie Salas had written a book for students about writing poetry, but she did, and it’s really good. I like the interior design (full of sidebars and photos and sample poems, lots to look at, easy to dip into for a couple of pieces of advice and inspiration before writing), and it’s full of good exercises and wisdom about the uses of poetry. Short (just 64 pages) practical guide that’s useful for the classroom.

Bookspeak! is a title I had checked out from the library to share with my students for National Poetry Month, and since I have a very limited supply of picture books to read at home right now, I’m savoring every word! Most of these poems rhyme, and we all know how I feel about that (BOO!) but I will grudgingly acknowledge that the poems mostly worked for me. I liked the conceit of having the books speak for themselves. I liked the art as well.

For some reason, I thought Love, Agnes was a book of poetry, which it is not. I was mildly confused as I started reading and found NO POETRY, so I had to go back to the beginning and recalibrate. Cute concept, but it really didn’t work for me. Not enough factual information for a fiction information book but still too much factual information to be not a fiction information book; not a distinguished voice for the characters; too much shifting in tone. I do love that cover, though.

A lovely collection of poems of gratitude with soft pastel illustrations by Marlene Myles. I especially liked Joseph Bruchac’s didactic poem and Kimberly Blaeser’s concrete poem. This is one I’d like to own and share in my classroom. I think it could inspire some strong student writing.

On tap this week: I’m reading and loving Sunny, the third book in Jason Reynolds’s Track series. I have about 12 professional development books started and hope to finish something. I’ve got a visit to my office planned for very early Wednesday morning (before anyone else is on campus!) where I hope to discover some unread picture books on my own shelves. I am also reading and really liking Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House, but that’s my bedtime book and I only read a few pages a night, so it may take more than a week to finish.

What are you reading this week?

6 thoughts on “The Week in Reading #imwayr 4/27/20

  1. I have & love all those poetry books, Elisabeth & though I didn’t check, I think Laura has written other books about writing, too. I bookmarked A Memory Called Empire, sounds good. I enjoy those kinds of books. And I agree, Lynda Barry’s books are wonderful. I don’t have this one, & really don’t need another art book, but it’s tempting! Have a great week!

  2. I’ve wanted to try to write better poetry, so Write Your Own Poetry sounds quite useful! And I also agree about sci-fi book descriptions; they often focus on minor details instead of the broader picture. Thanku: Poems of Gratitude sounds great as well! Thanks for the great post!

  3. I loved Thanku too! It’s still on my wish list to buy. I have only read the first 2 books in the Track series, I really do need to read the others. I have one professional book I am currently reading and then I think I’m going to take a break from them. I usually try to read a couple over summer, but being as exhausted as I am, I may take a break!

  4. I’ve never read Bookspeak! but I would really like to once I can find a copy. I would really like to read more poetry with Breena this year. She’s been reading Milne’s Now We Are Six aloud to me, and we’re both enjoying it. I’ve also heard so many wonderful things about Thanku — so far we don’t have it at my libraries, but I’m not giving up hope. 🙂 I’m super late on #imwayr this week, but glad I was able to pop by. Have a wonderful weekend, Elisabeth (it’ll be super rainy here in Chadron — up to 1/2″ tonight, alone!!)!

  5. I’m with you on trouble of describing SF books. I think it’s because while you are reading the exotic setting and magic stuff or science changes are background and what makes it good are the characters and themes, but it’s hard to describe without getting distracted by the details.

    And I laughed at your poetry feelings, because I have the same reaction to free verse. I like rhymes, meter, any restrictions that force the poet to make hard choices.

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