The Wild Honey Buzz: Top 10 of 50 Books Read in 2021
Happy November! I just finished reading my 50th book of the year which is a record for me and I still have a month to go! In 2020, I read 48 books.
You can see my entire list of books on Goodreads.com along with brief reviews of each. For this blog, I am sharing the titles that I rated 5 Stars in the reviews, along with a couple of 4-star books that I really enjoyed, and I'm including the anthologies published this year that have my poems in them.
These are not listed in order of preference:
Hope, Pray, Don't Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio by Diane Allen
I am surprised that more people don't know who Padre Pio is or how closely he resembled Jesus in his ability to perform miracles, read other's thoughts, live a life of simplicity and austerity and bear the wounds of the cross. He lived until 1968 and bore the stigmata for 50 years (wounds corresponding to those left on Jesus' body by the Crucifixion). He was an Italian priest who lived and worked in a remote monastery in Southern Italy. This book is mind-blowing in its first hand accounts and testimonials of people who were healed or whose loved ones were healed by Padre Pio or experienced psychic phenomenon through their connection to him (one of his gifts was the ability to bi-locate or be in more than one place at a time).
The Fated Sky: Astrology in History by Benson Bobrick
The Fated Sky was a challenging read for me but an excellent account of the fascinating history of this ancient art and science. I especially enjoyed learning about the astronomer, Johannes Kepler, and his contributions to the field of astrology and how closely allied astronomy and astrology were almost to the end of the 17th Century. The book lists numerous accounts of deaths of monarchs that were correctly predicted by astrologers and discusses how astrology influenced the work of Hippocrates, Shakespeare, William Butler Yeats, Carl Jung and others. Of particular interest to me was the history of how some in the Christian church once embraced astrology and later demonized it, and the pivotal role that astrology played in the story of the birth of Jesus as the three wise men who were astrologers followed the star to Bethlehem.
Scriptorium: Poems by Melissa Range
I love the musicality of the poems in this collection and the superb way the author incorporates the Appalachian mountain dialect and vernacular in several of the poems. My favorites are "Flat as a Flitter," "Hit," "To Swan," "Crooked as a Dog's Hind Leg," and "Regionalism."
Killing Marias by Claudia Castro Luna
This book of poems is a touching memorial for the women and girls killed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A poem is written for each of the victims whose first name was Maria. In titling the poems, the author combines the name of each victim she found whose name began with Maria with a line from "The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary," a prayer which includes the many names of Mary the Mother of Jesus. Claudia Castro Luna is currently serving as the Poet Laureate of Washington State (2018-2021).
Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm by Isabella Tree
An excellent book to read in celebration of Earth Month/Earth Day. The book chronicles the amazing resurgence of rare species such as the turtle dove, nightingale and purple emperor butterfly to the 3500 acre Knepp Estate in England after the author and her husband discontinued intensive farming practices and allowed nature to take the driving seat. Wilding is an absorbing and encouraging read and a real treat for nature lovers.
Belonging: A Culture of Place by bell hooks
I love this book and the author's voice. She writes so beautifully about the unacknowledged experience of Black people in the rural South, of her childhood in Kentucky and her return to her home state after living away for many years. This is an important book about race relations, the importance of roots and a sense of belonging and the healing power of nature. She includes an interview with her fellow Kentuckian, poet Wendell Berry. I highly recommend this book; anyone with ties to the American South will find it particularly engaging.
Fast Feast Repeat by Gin Stephens
This is a great book about the benefits of intermittent fasting which the author defines as a health plan with a side effect of weight loss.
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebecca Taussig
This is an enlightening book and close up account of the many challenges that disabled people face living in a world of limited accessibility and frequent condescension. It also showcases their many triumphs and gifts to the world. I particularly like this sentence from the book, "All of our bodies carry a multitude of strengths and frailties, and sometimes those are one and the same."
A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman
After hearing about this spiritual classic forever, I finally got around to reading it! For me it was a "crash course" as I wanted to finish it quickly before its due date at the library, and it is a long book! I took notes so that I can go back and reflect more slowly on some of the more poignant ideas presented in it. There are many inspiring quotes and beautiful prayers in the book, and a primary emphasis upon forgiveness of oneself and others as the ultimate miracle.
Birth Lifespan, Vol. 1 (Anthology containing my poem, "Umbilical Cord")
I am honored that my poem, "Umbilical Cord" appears on page 25 of this anthology of poems and prose pieces around the theme of birth. This volume is the first of a planned series which will cover the lifespan from birth to death. The contributors are from all around the world. As the editor states in his preface, the book is about more than just birth and life, "it is really about journeys: beginnings and middles and endings" all of which are represented in my poem.
And lastly, two more anthologies which contain my poems and would be appropriate for holiday gift giving due to their titles and contents:
Dead of Winter: An Anthology (contains my poem, "Blood Verse")
I am honored that my poem, "Blood Verse" is included in this nicely curated collection of poems by many talented poets, including Martha Silano and others whose work I admire. The cover art beautifully reflects the themes explored in the poems.
Hot off the Press and now available from Tiny Seed Press:
Anthology Forest: A Collection of Poems Honoring the Forest (contains my poem, "Cedar Hill")
Tiny Seed Press is donating 50% of proceeds from this anthology to a reforestation project called "Arbolution Oaxaca" in Mexico.
What about you? What is the favorite book you read in 2021 and what is on your list of books to read in 2022?
I hope you enjoy these last two months of 2021 and that whatever you read will inspire, uplift, education and entertain you!