Last month I stopped by Open Books, which looks very modest from the outside but in truth is packed with thousands and thousands of books. I wanted to linger there for hours, lost in verse; I wanted to take as many home with me as I could carry. But I limited myself to two books, one of which was The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins:
By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.
One of my favorite novels last month was Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist. It's set in turn-of-the-century Washington State, and it's a thoughtful, slow, luxurious read:
There was an apricot tree in the orchard that was perfect for stepping up into. Once one of the girls did this, a curved branch invited another step up, and a branch above that dipped slightly in the middle, inviting a hand to grip it for leverage. [...] There was a type of heat and light that was direct and overhead and bleached the orchard of color. The orchard at noon on the hottest days. And then there were mornings when the air was blue and soft, and the leaves of the trees looked like velvet.
I also finished the Rabbit Angstrom books, re-reading the ones I'd already read years before and finally getting around to the ones I hadn't. Technically I started these a few months ago, but wanted to wait and recommend them as a series. I'm constantly reveling in Updike's prose. From Rabbit at Rest:
"Are we lost, Grandpa?" "We can't be," he tells her. In their sudden small plight he is newly aware of her preciousness, the jewel-cut of her eyes and eyelashes, the downy glaze in front of her ears and the gleam of each filament of her luxuriant hair, pulled taut into a thick pigtail adorned with an unreal stiff white ribbon. For the first time he sees she is also wearing symmetrical white barrettes, shaped like butterflies. Judy looks up toward his face and fights crying at the vagueness she sees there. '"This coat is too hot," she complains. "I'll carry it," he says.
We had invented time, and we could not kill it fast enough. After dinner, dancing, and baths, we read, wrote our poems and stories, brushed our teeth, and tumbled into bed, only to find the next day was exactly the same. [...] We shared our ideas like sweaters, with easy exchange and lack of ownership. We gave over excess words, a single beautiful sentence that had to be cut but perhaps the other would like to have.
How about you? Read any great books recently?