Sunday, January 13, 2008
I found this cherry tree blooming in my Capitol Hill neighborhood on December 9th. There are certain cherry trees which always bloom around this time of year in Seattle. I'm not sure why.
On December 20, the day before Winter Solstice, I found this forsythia in bloom. It was on the east side of a brick building. These plants that are right next to buildings which radiate the heat of the sun often bloom before anything else. Still it was surprising to see this sunny promise of spring so early in the year.
Unfortunately there were as many books last year that I stopped reading as that I finished. My list is peppered with comments like Ugh! and Ew! I don't know if this comes with increasing age (and thus increasing discrimination--I don't want to waste my time) or if the quality of published books has really declined. I suspect both are true. Everyone in my writing group had similar complaints about the difficult of finding good books to read last year.
Nancy Pearl, our famous
Speaking of good books, here is my list for 2007:
Dark Angels, by Karleen Koen, an old-fashioned and complicated historical novel that really plunges you into the world of restoration
Ruby in her Navel by Barry Unsworth is a marvelous historical novel about Sicily in the twelfth century. It interested me because one of my favorite historical novels of all time, Great Maria by Cecilia Holland, also takes place at this time period and focuses on the
Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley is equally complicated. Think of what Dickens would have written if he had tackled the world of horse-racing. The writing is superb. Finely crafted yet translucent. We're introduced to a panoramic cast of characters and the action ranges across the
Layne was one of the students in my blogging class. His publishers wanted him to start a blog to promote this book which features a crow’s eye view of the Flood. Even though I’m a huge fan of crows, it sounded like a weird premise, that is, until I started reading it. What a delightful and magical book. I’m hooked on the plot, savoring the delicious language (crows have a very earthy appreciation for life) and thoroughly enjoying the experience of life as a crow. It’s one of those books which I’m forcing myself to read slowly because I don’t want it to end. Those of you who are also crow fans will appreciate the bibliography at the back and the crow epigraphs at the start of each chapter.
Wild by Jay Griffiths
I met Jay Griffiths at the first Take Back Your Time Day Conference in
Last year she released her new book, Wild: An Elemental Journey, one she’s been working on for seven years and she’s packed in seven years of insights and adventures, research and reflections. Jay knows the magic of words. She knows their raw meanings and loves to play around with them. She uses them to dazzle and delight. She follows them down serpentine paths that lead to surprising places. Though she is always pondering meaning, her work is never dry; she is always grounded in the sensuous and the sensual, even the bawdy and the erotic.
I’ve been reading this book slowly ever since I bought a copy when Jay was here in
Jay was just given an award by Orion magazine for best book of 2007. For an excerpt from Wild go to the Orion site.
Stewart writes in a much more journalistic style. Her language is clear and her story is compelling. I couldn’t put it down even though all I was doing was following Stewart on her world-wide tour, exploring the flower business, from the greenhouses where roses are grown in
I’m not alone in loving this book. It tops many best-selling lists. I especially appreciate the casual, conversational tone of the narrator and the way she infuses spirituality into her life.
Gail Campbell grew up in
Dog Years by Mark Doty
I read this during the Midwinter holidays and it was magical read. The language is gorgeous as might be expected from Mark Doty, a marvelous poet. He writes intelligently, even philosophically about a sentimental subject—the love of dogs—and yet never slides into sentiment or cliché. I didn’t cry while reading about the deaths of his two dogs (though they died in ways surprisingly similar to my dog Chester) but I feel like crying now every time I see the dogs (Mark’s dogs) on the cover of the book, because I have come to love them as well and know what their loss means. Yet overall this is not a sad book, but an uplifting one.
I have another whole list of books I read and loved this year about plants. If I find the time in the next few days, I might post that.