Blog,  From My Bookshelf

From My Bookshelf: Choice, Summer, Light, Maine (Book Haul)

Four books have recently made their way to my shelves (okay, I found them at Goodwill – they didn’t just walk into my apartment and climb onto my shelves), so I’m sharing them in another edition of From My Bookshelf.

Poet’s Choice
Edited by Paul Engle and Joseph Langland

  • Time Reading Program Special Edition, 1966

This American poetry collection was compiled with the help of the poets themselves; each poem is followed by a statement from the writer briefly explaining the importance of the poem to them. I’m quite interested in finding out if there’s something to gleam from the poets reflecting on their work or if there will be just a lot of self-important commentary…

From the introduction: “Poem after poem in this volume expresses the amazement of being alive in the middle years of this extreme [20th] century. This amazement is not merely wonder that somehow we have avoided that monstrous total destruction whose threat is announced each day when the newspaper lands on our doorstep. It is also the fine and primitive surprise that men feel at the details of their daily living.”

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Kelly O’Connor McNees

  • GP Putnam’s Sons, 2010

I am interested in this novel because the author has used historical facts about Louisa May Alcott to create what sounds like a consuming family and love story. Plus, the cover and end paper designs are lovely.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O’Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa is twenty-two and bursting with a desire to free herself from family and societal constraints so she can do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

Ordinary Light
Tracy K. Smith

  • Vintage Books, 2015

I don’t have a great track record with memoirs (or anything in the non-fiction category), but Tracy K. Smith is a poetry/literary VIP so I couldn’t pass her memoir by.

In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America. Shot through with lyricism, wry humor, and acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family. 

A Place Called Maine: 24 Authors on the Maine Experience
edited by Wesley McNair

  • Down East, 2008

I have to admit that I have certain thoughts about this publisher (well-known here in Maine, and maybe? New England) that have created some pre-conceived notions about what these Maine experiences will be like (in addition to the tone of the summary). Nevertheless, I hope to find at least one Maine writer among the pages of this collection that I enjoy.

What is it like to live and write in Maine? Who better to ask than the authors who reside there? And who better to select those writers than Wesley McNair, the state’s premier anthologist?

The writers McNair gathers here include newcomers and natives from the coast to the northernmost border. Their personal stories relate everything from adventures and misadventures with neighbors, to encounters with wildlife, to weathering a cold climate, to affirmations of community and the natural world. Through their unique observations and insights, they transform Maine into a state of mind. 

Are you familiar with any of these books? What was the most recent addition to your bookshelves (physical or digital)? Let’s chat in the comments.

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