Posts Tagged ‘Billy Collins’


I finished my book bingo card this week. For an old favorite, I chose Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins. And for a book I haven’t read by an author I like, I chose Monologue of a Dog by Wislawa Szymborska, and interestingly enough, Billy Collins wrote the introduction. They are both incredible and it was nice to return to poetry after not reading any for a long time.

For a biography or memoir, I listened to Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl  by Stacy O’Brien. O’Brien’s story would be incredible if she only wrote about Wesley, the barn owl she adopted when he was only four days old, loved, raised, observed, lived with for nineteen years. But her own story is also incredible, from her musical childhood to her incredible fight against a mysterious, debilitating illness. I didn’t love the narration, honestly. I also don’t think audiobooks on my commute are the best idea — I’m probably going back to podcasts.

And for any book in a series, I read Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidant by Susan Elia MacNeal, which is a Maggie Hope novel. MacNeal gets into several interesting side plots, including an intriguing nod to Roald Dahl‘s life, as well as the continuing saga of plucky Maggie Hope, this time visiting the U.S. as part of Churchill’s team for the famous meeting with Roosevelt just weeks after Pearl Harbor. I enjoyed it, but realized when I was finished that I don’t think I read the previous title in the series so I’m going to have to go back.

It was fun to finish my card, but I’m looking forward to just reading things because the mood strikes, or someone recommends something, or a book catches my eye.

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Once again the Concord Monitor asked columnists and readers to add to the cacophony of holiday book recommendations. I’m not much of a fan of this sort of general advice for gift-giving — it’s personal, and without some idea of the tastes of the person you’re shopping for, how can I make a suggestion? But in the spirit of cooperation and community I played along. My suggestions are pasted below. For all the recommendations the Monitor ran, take this link.

I stand by the advice I gave last year in this space: Visit your local independent bookstore and public library for expert book suggestions. A gift card from your indie bookstore and a stocking stuffer from the Friends of the Library sale shelf (plus a library card application, if your giftee doesn’t have one), with the promise that you’ll spend an afternoon together browsing and enjoying a café treat, is a return-proof gift sure to appeal.

That said, here are four widely appealing recent books that would be great gifts for teens through great-grandparents:

Richard Blanco’s For All of Us, One Today is a brief memoir of his experience as inaugural poet. He writes movingly of his life, his family, his writing, and why poetry is important to our national conversation as one people in a diverse country.

Billy Collins’s new collection, Aimless Love, is brimming with his trademark wit and quirky perception, and is especially appropriate for those who fear they don’t get poetry.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence is a tremendously fun, sweet-not-syrupy, thought-provoking coming-of-age book. Told from a teenager’s perspective (but not a Young Adult book), this novel also addresses parenthood, aging, friendship, and end-of-life issues, as well as the power of books (and libraries!) to bring people together.

Shopping for a voracious reader? I suggest (and hope to receive) the literary almanac A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year.

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