Spring Quarter

Late getting this up as it’s some days after the summer solstice, but here it is: my spring quarter reading. I read a lot of poetry, and books I find comforting, as COVID-19 hit the world and my state of Washington went into heavy quarantine. I got reacquainted with Galileo, rereading Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo with translation and introductions by Stillman Drake, and came across new wonderful poets, taking advantage of sales and promo codes given from independent presses during this time. It’s been a lovely quarter, so without further ado, here’s the list, presented by order read. 

Agatha_H_cover_volume4Phil & Kaja Foglio’s Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (Girl Genius Novel #4) 
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Page Count: 456
My Rating: Five Stars

Adventure! Romance! Mad Science! The long awaited fourth book of the series, the Foglio’s latest installment is as enthusiastic as ever. Perhaps not a series for all, Agatha H. is pure escapism, stuffed with cute clank robots, steampunk landscapes, fantastical engineering, love triangles, talking castles, battles, laugh out loud humor, and (my favorite) Jägermonsters. Focused on Agatha Heterodyne, the last of the infamous Heterodyne family, this latest adventure takes place in Mechanicsburg, where Agatha takes her seat of power and goes against the Wulfenbach Empire and all of Pax Transylvania! I love this series, it’s everything I look for in a story, and it’s so much fun.

Dreamland_cover_RandallDavid K. Randall’s Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Publisher: Norton & Company Inc.
Page Count: 304
My Rating: Three Stars

Spurred by my interest in the COVID-19 dreams flying around, I plucked Dreamland off the shelf after it had sat there for several years and dug in. A journalistic endeavor, Dreamland is full of fascinating trivia and stories of sleep in all its variations. Though the lowest star rating on this list, I nevertheless really enjoyed this book and found it helpful in understanding my own sleep oddities while simultaneously being entertained by Randall’s lighthearted narration and style. Read my full review of Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep up on NIP. 

Screenshot 2020-06-25 at 01.22.14Amy England’s The Flute Ship Castricum 
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Page Count: 86 
My Rating: Three and a Half Stars

Perhaps one of the most unique poetry collections I’ve ever read, England’s The Flute Ship Castricum is imaginative and wending, full of dreamscapes and conversations, inciting wonder and question. In an unusual 6.5 x 8.5 inch binding, the poems and prose present in England’s volume are full of motion, sensory and idiosyncratic, creating a feeling that one is walking while reading. Ecstatic in some places, and reflective in others, my favorite line of Amy England’s from this collection would be: “To love a place forever, don’t spend too much / Time there.”

Dirt_Eater_Rottenman_coverEliza Rotterman’s Dirt Eaters 
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Page Count: 33
My Rating: Four Stars

The smallest chapbook on this list, Dirt Eaters feels familiar, full of wooded imagery and earthy tones. Yet, there is power here—unexpected power—as Rotterman’s verses and stanzas suddenly break through as though a needle slowly, slowly, slowly being pushed in. At first, there is just pressure, then a puncture, then the burning probe. Little, but it packs a punch. I very much felt this volume, and I look forward to reading more of Eliza Rotterman’s work in the future.

AnamCara_JD_coverJohn O’Donohue’s Anam Ċara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Page Count: 256
My Rating: Four Stars

A mystic’s book, full of meditative reflection and prayer, Anam Ċara like many spiritual reads can sometimes feel repetitive and circular, but this is often by design. Though typically I enjoy philosophy over mysticism, sometimes one seeks the quietness that faith-based or more religious texts reside in. O’Donohue’s book embraces solitude and careful, non-invasive thinking; not terribly interested in answering every question, Anam Ċara embraces uncertainty, darkness, aloneness, and in essence, is about learning to enjoy your own damn company, a lesson that many of us are still struggling to get. Achieving, maintaining, and understanding friendship and companionship with others, with nature, and with self is the chief study of this volume. A recommended read if you are finding the isolation and uncertainty of the present times difficult. One does not have to be a true-believer to find wisdom and aid in O’Donohue’s words. Full of lovely prose and calm contemplation, Anam Ċara is a fine book. Read it, and be soothed. 

Screenshot 2020-06-25 at 01.31.05Adeeba Shahid Talukder’s Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Page Count: 110 
My Rating: Four Stars

Building on Urdu and Persian poetic tradition, Talukder’s Shahr-e-jaanaan looks to pay homage to these traditions while simultaneously striving to challenge them. Swinging between extremes of all consuming esteem to entrenched despair, Shahr-e-jaanaan is a collection of classical ghazal and total rebellion from the norm. A lacey, but probing volume, Talukder’s writing orbits around love and separation, as the earth revolves on its axis and circles the sun, creating light and darkness. Read my full review of Talukder’s Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, up on Nothing in Particular. 

Next_Ancient_World_Hecht_coverJennifer Hecht’s The Next Ancient World
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Page Count: 78
My Rating: Four Stars

Poetry from an academic, clearly, Hecht’s collection is explorative, probing, reflective, formulaic, and aloof, creating a life of deep ruminations—but the tree is upside down—with the branches and leaves growing underground and the roots reaching upwards into the sky. Hecht’s The Next Ancient World feels experimental, yet there also exists the carefulness in which Hecht chooses her words, and the exactitude of her placements. A wonderful volume that I highly recommend, The Next Ancient World is a creation story, as Hecht time-travels forward, snatching pieces of the future, and brings them to page.

Drake's_DiscoveriesandOpinions_Galileo_coverTranslation and Notes on Galileo Galilei, Stillman Drake’s Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo
Publisher: Doubleday Anchor
Page Count: 302
My Rating: Five Stars

A reread, perhaps I found myself drawn to Galileo again because of his time spent in imprisonment, and of late, I’ve felt rather cooped up and trapped; or, perhaps I’m reading Galileo again because he took great pleasure in wine, and I’ve also been taking more pleasure in wine lately, being all cooped up; or, maybe because Galileo loved music, and he often played lute in his cell, because I’ve found myself strumming my ukulele more and more since quarantine started; or maybe, maybe I’m really just reading Galileo again, because Galileo is what I read when I am sad or overwhelmed, not because of any kinship but rather because I would have liked to have known him, and not in any sort of scientific, academic way, but I rather would have liked to have known him in a personal, friendship way: How’re your children? How is your wife? Do you still miss Florence? Won’t you stay in Padua? Stillman Drake’s Discoveries and Opinions is a simple volume, that is less about Galileo’s indispensable work and more about his relationships, his character, his life. And those are the things I love about Galileo; not what he did, not what happened to him, but who he was. 

Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there, and stay brave. ♥                            


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