Thursday, April 16, 2015

Five books I'm grateful for

I've been thinking about the way a book can change a life--in a spiritual sense, sure, but just as often in down-to-earth sense, an everyday "oh, yes THIS is what it is like to be human" sort of way.  The kind of book that moves me the way natural and man-made worlds sometimes do--in small, unexpectedly beautiful ways; a view-from-Tokyo-Tower kind of book; a shore-thrashing-winter-gale kind of book; a Uinta-Valley-spring-meadow kind of book; a belly-laughing-five-year-old kind of book.  Here are a few on my list, with micro summaries.

1. Leaping by Brian Doyle

Micro-summary: Love God, and wrestle with your kids. Or is it love your kids, and wrestle with God?

Here's a selection.

2. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Micro-summary: Justice is the most important, and least attainable virtue in the world. Oh, and you're not a real cowboy unless you can break sixteen wild horses in four days while all the local villagers watch.

Here's a selection.

3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Micro-summary: A beautifully lyric answer to one of many questions we don't ask nearly enough in this country--what does it mean to be a Latina woman from a poor immigrant family living in the urban United States?

Here's a selection.

4. Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Micro-Summary: Poems that give voice to the families who fled from New Orleans, who stayed behind, who braved and were buried by the waters of Katrina, and to the dogs tied up by those families escaping the storm, and, in the opening poems, a voice to the Hurricane itself. Dazzling.

Here's a selection: 

5. Notes from no Man's land by Eula Biss

Micro-Summary: Essays on race in America, and the shockingly slow progress we are making towards equality, written in a sometimes lyric, sometimes analytic voice shot through with wit, clarity, and a bewildering ability to juxtapose seemingly unrelated ideas that reveal some old truths in important new ways.

here's a selection (click on the "play audio sample button).

These are five of min. What are five of yours?

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