I’ve been on a bit of a staff recommendation binge. I guess I’ve just been reading things I really think other people should read. Other people including you.
Here are the most recent ones:
Words for Empty and Words for Full by Bob Hicok
I can’t really claim responsibility for this recommendation. I want to, because I love this book, but I can’t. I’ve been polling customers about their favorite contemporary poets and I’d never heard of Bob Hicok before someone recommended him to me a few weeks ago.
I’m a bit giddy about this guy’s poems. I haven’t fallen this hard for a poet since I met e.e. cummings in 9th grade. Not that Hicok and cummings have too much in common – – it’s just they give me the same kind of feeling. A take-out-all-his-books-from-the-library, I-hope-he’s-written-a-poem-about-everything kind of feeling.
It’s a good feeling. I recommend it (and this book) to you.
Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison by Ted Kooser
When Ted Kooser was recovering from cancer, his doctor told him to stay out of the sun. He walked every morning before dawn, and then wrote a poem about each walk, put them down on postcards and mailed them off to his friend, the writer Jim Harrison.
This book is 100 of those poems, organized chronologically. Reading through them is like traveling through the darkest months of the year with someone so warm and observant that you don’t remember to miss the sun. Kooser writes the kind of poems that revel in the ordinary as extraordinary, a feat he accomplishes quietly and simply, just through the elegance of his descriptions and the beauty of his metaphors.
I cannot think of a better book to carry around with you for a winter’s worth of walks.
420 Characters by Lou BeachThis might be the world’s easiest book to recommend. Here goes: Pick up the book. Open to any page. Read the story. Pick a new page. Read another story.
My work is done here.
Or it would be, if you were in the store.
But you aren’t. So – I’ll turn to a page for you
(it’s the first one I read):
THE ELEVATOR IS BROKEN. I lug a bag of groceries up the metal stairs to the eighth floor. Half-way there the soggy bottom of the bag breaks, releases a fusillade of cat food cans that go clanking and bouncing below. I sigh and sit, feel as empty as the bag. I stare at the white curdles of cottage cheese from the burst container, now on my shoes, and think this is what angel vomit must look like.
And here’s one more:
“LET ME IN!” The failed artist from around the corner, 6 ft. 4 in. of canned ham, and his wee wife, 5 ft. 1, a regular pill bug, was banging on my door. A bird had just shit on his head, an avian comment on his life. Drug-riddled and depressed, he was making lots of money in the video game industry, “What should I do?” he asked. I thought he should shoot himself, but didn’t say so. I handed him towel.
So many good books!