June Books

June Books

Finally getting around to posting my reading list from June. Somehow I have this nagging feeling that I’m leaving something out. Oh well.

1. The Westing Game

After doing the Newbery medal winners meme and realizing how few I’d read, I decided to try to read one Newbery Medal winning book a month. My first pick was The Westing Game because Enbrethiliel was trying to convince Mrs Darwin to read it in the comments to Mrs Darwin’s post.

I wasn’t really expecting anything specific from this book and still it wasn’t what I expected. I somehow was quite surprised to find it was a mystery novel. Honestly, I had a hard time remembering who everyone way and I’m not sure I followed it very well. Too tired and distracted, maybe.

2. Poetry Magazine June 2013 Issue

Ok technically not a book, but I read it and want to write about it and it’s my blog. Someone got me a subscription to Poetry Magazine. I haven’t figured out who. And I really appreciate it, but kind of feel bad because most months I don’t even open it but it just goes on the shelf with all the others. The nice thing about it, though, is that it will be there when the fancy strikes me. Anyway, for some reason the June issue caught my eye and when I was pulling the plastic off I found myself opening the leaves and flipping through. Then I read the whole issue from cover to cover. It is a special issue on Landays, a form of folk poetry in Afghanistan. The short poems and photographs were captivating and it didn’t take long at all to read.

I call. You’re stone.
One day you’ll look and find I’m gone.

In Afghan culture, poetry is revered, particularly the high literary forms that derive from Persian or Arabic. But the poem above is a folk couplet—a landay- an oral and often anonymous scrap of song created by and for mostly illiterate people: the more than twenty million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Traditionally landays are sung aloud, often to the beat of a hand drum, which, along with other kids of music, was banned by the Taliban from 1996 to 2001 and in some places still is.

A landay has few formal properties. Each has twenty-two syllables: nine in the first line, thirteen in the second. The poem ends with the sound “ma” or “na.” Sometimes they rhyme, but more often not. In Pashto, they lilt internally from word to word ina kind of two-line lullaby that belies the sharpness of their content, which is distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love. Within these five main tropes, the couplets express a collective fury, a lament, an earthy joke, a love of home, a longing for the end of separation, a call to arms, all of which frustrate any facile image of a Pashtun woman as nothing but a mute ghost beneath a blue burqa.

It was a most interesting exploration of a poetic form that is new to me. And especially interesting was the proliferation of landays on social media, especially Facebook.

3. Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz

I wrote about it here

4. Teaching in Your Tiara: A Homeschooling Book for the rest of Us by Rebecca Frech, which I won in Calah’s giveaway

This was more of an introduction to homeschooling book than I expected, but it was a good introduction. I feel like I’ve been reading and writing about homeschooling for so long, even though my oldest is only seven, that much of the book was a rehash for me, though I highly recommend it for anyone getting started or who is just thinking about homeschooling. What I got out of it mainly was a fresh perspective and a little shot in the arm that made me think through some things I needed to think about, to refocus and stop running on autopilot. A good book for the end of the academic year when I want to take stock and start to plan for next year. Even though I don’t really stop school for the summer, it’s a good time to note progress and make plans.

I feel like I should say more, but honestly I wasn’t in book reviewing mode when I was reading. I was skimming for what it had for me right now.

5. The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid by Greg Willits.

Dom picked this one up at the Catholic Media Conference in Denver. I’m part way through and liking it so far. Guess I’ll write more about it in my July books list.



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