What I'm Reading

What I'm Reading and What I'm Listening to

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, by Eudora Welty is available today, on Kindle, for $1.99


Tinkers, by Paul Harding, is available today, on Kindle, for $2.99


I belong to Audible.com, and I own a Kindle HDX. This allows me to take advantage of Amazon's Whispersync, that moves between audible and e-book versions of the book you've purchased. Amazon discounts the Audible price, once you purchase the e-book version of a book. I'm really enjoying this feature.

What I'm Reading

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

I'm halfway through this book and it's ringing true for me.


The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

I've heard nothing but good things about this novel. It's available for $2.99, today only, on Kindle.


Audiobooks from Audible.com

On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century, by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka


I find this Pope fascinating and I wanted to know more about his thinking. This book is a series of dialogues that the then Cardinal and Archbishop of Argentina had with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Both men cover a range of subjects, and on full display is subtlety and nuanced thinking. It gives me hope. 



What I'm Reading - On Being Certain, by Robert A. Burton

What I'm reading: 

  On Being Certain: Believing you are Right Even When You're Not, by Robert Burton, M.D.


 The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon, and the Big Six Publishers Changed the E-Book Business Overnight (Kindle Single)




The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer, by Renée Fleming




What I'm Reading: An Animal of the Sixth Day by Laura Fargas

April is poetry month. I read poetry year round and can't imagine a month without it, but I'm happy to celebrate it publicly every April. Some poems wind up becoming talismans -- something you carry and something that carries you. The poem becomes something you breathe; something you are. That is how I feel about Laura Fargas' poem, Kuan Yin, which can be found in her book of poems: An Animal of the Sixth Day

Thank you, Laura Fargas.

What I'm reading...When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays, by Marilynne Robinson

When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays, by Marilynne Robinson, Farrar Straus and Giroux


This is an important book. In her essay: Austerity as Ideology, Robinson shines her considerable light on the matter of our democracy. Our economic story, as currently being told, is pushing austerity as a means of reaching economic integrity. The pivot away from the freewheeling ways of the masters of the universe that brought us, unasked, to what is being called a precipice, goes unexamined by those who now think the problems stem from a free spending government and 47% of fellow Americans deemed as takers. Takers of what?

Among the policies and decisions that led to the great recession, two things stand out: we entered into two specific wars and the generalized "war on terror" that allowed for many movements without any oversight, diminishing rights and liberties with abandon. There was never a war economy; very few of us were asked to sacrifice anything for the war effort as we deployed service men and woman again and again. On the home front the economy was racing ahead as the internet brought with it new market efficiencies and the ability to find a means of liquefying assets. For most Americans their home is their greatest asset. All that unused principal became the new gold rush when a stock market approach could be attached to mortgages. Freed up equity and mortgage bundles became liquid gold as the market responded with ever increasing home values. What disappeared, along with the equity and the value, was the stability that a home provides for the humans that dwell under its roof -- foundations shifted. 

Now we're being sold on the notion that the correction for the malfeasance of the few is austerity for all. The price of austerity -- the cost to get back to a new form of stability -- comes at the expense of cherished institutions. At this very moment, the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, attempting to make good on his promise for education reform, is proposing price points for specific majors. Majors considered desirable by the state's current economic needs would get a price break.

To Steer Students Toward Jobs, Florida May Cut Tuition for Select Majors - NYTimes

The state of Florida has little need for the humanities, the arts, or English majors. You can still choose these programs, if you like; you will pay for your frivolity. How long does it take to bring to ruin institutions when business models become the only way to measure value?

Read Robinson's essay. I've only touched on one or two points here. Robinson's essays are rich; there is no voice like hers. I am a grateful reader.


What I'm reading...Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull

Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull


I'm ten chapters in, reading it out loud, and having the listeners say, "Another chapter, please..." Catmull spins a story out of the four winds, rich in family love and folklore. I've spent many an hour on the edge of a forest; Catmull captures that threshold feeling of possibility that moves this story of two sisters, lost in the woods. She has an uncanny sense -- a bird's eye view of things -- that undergirds this magical tale.


I'll have more to say when I've finished it, but I've read enough to know that I recommend it for your Christmas list. 

What I'm reading...A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens

I love Wallace Stevens. I count The Man with the Blue Guitar  and The Idea of Order at Key West as two of my favorite poems. They talk to me, as a writer. Stevens struck a chord with me very early; decades later, he's been a constant companion. Some of Stevens' poems seem impenetrable. That's never put me off; I always think of the last two lines from MacLeish's,  Ars Poetica : A poem should not mean / But be whenever a poem leaves me wondering. I find out what I can, and what's necessary sticks with me.

Finding out much about Stevens work became much easier with Eleanor Cook's, Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens. Cook is a Stevens' expert; this work takes Stevens' poems in chronological order and provides annotations and references. It's wonderful; I can't thank Eleanor Cook enough!


A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens - Eleanor Cook (Princeton University Press)


Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose (Library of America) - Wallace Stevens


What I'm reading...this Kindle Single is Hot off the Press - Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space

What I'm reading...

I saw Charlie Rose interview Lisa Randall and I immediately wanted to read her books. She has a speaking style that's very interesting; she is able to convey the excitement she sees in particle physics in layman's language -- no small trick, that -- and she is almost bursting with the information she has to pare down. The containment and delivery of bite size bits of info, minus the math which is the road itself, is an art form.

Lisa Randall: Knocking on Heaven's Door - Great Teachers

Physicists Anxiously Await News of the 'God Particle' - NYTimes

Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World, by Lisa Randall

Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, by Lisa Randall

What I'm reading...

I start out my day with poetry. Wallace Stevens is always on hand. There is a richness there that constantly informs.  I return, again and again, to his poem, The Idea of Order at Key West:



I also love The Man with the Blue Guitar. Stevens helped me understand the way an artist sees the visible world and gives it a mixture of voice and silence in witnessing it.



I first encountered Stevens' poetry in an anthology that included three of his poems: The Man with the Blue Guitar, The Emperor of Ice Cream,  and  Anecdote of the Jar. I didn't know what to make of them, but I was intrigued. Several lines stayed with me, which is the way poetry works with me. So I read more of his poems and I continue to read and reread them and understand them in different ways. Just as rereading a novel at different times of your life brings forth a whole new book, poems keep renewing themselves, or I come to them new. Over the years, in some strange alchemy, the lines feel grafted to my bones. I like to read his poems out loud. The experience is something like listening to music you love with headphones on; by giving it voice the work becomes embodied. It's a different sort of concentration and it allows more of the poem to sink in.