book notes: November

The Discovery of Poetry by Frances Mayes
I came across this book in our university library, while looking for a new textbook for my poetry class. Students come into the class with some basic knowledge about poetry, having had my intro to creative writing class as a prereq, so I can start off on a little bit deeper level than I would with a student who may have never read modern poetry. I think this book is great for beginners and can be built on for more experienced writers. I’m using it as somewhat of an outline for the class, since it covers everything I want to cover with my poets—image, rhythm, sound, forms of poetry, meter. I like that this book has a good mix of modern poems and traditional poetry, a wide variety of poets represented, and “in your notebook” writing exercises sprinkled throughout. So hopefully this will go over as a good textbook and that my students will enjoy it as much as I have!

Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
I always find Fitzpatrick’s books challenging but worthwhile. A few chapters into this book, I was in despair—I can’t possibly Do all the things I need to do as a parent!!—but Fitzpatrick did this purposefully, reminding gently that we indeed can Not do it, only Christ can change a heart, no amount of good or bad parenting. She encourages parents to point every act of discipline or every conversation that you can to Jesus. Sometimes the situations she gives and the scripts of what you could say kind of seemed impossible to me—but she does go on to say later in the book that maybe you won’t have time to give the thorough answer she gives for an example (my one criticism of the book would be that I wish she had given us parents, as readers, a little grace with these methods nearer the beginning of the book—I could see a lot of readers putting this book down, saying “this is impossible!”). I plan on reading this book maybe once every year or two, just to brush up on what she teaches.

On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
A student gave me this book as a gift, and I’m so glad she did—I’m not sure if its something I would’ve picked up on my own, but I had been wanting to research vaccinations further, since I felt uncomfortable about them. There’s so many stories and opinions that I hear about it from other moms, blogs, articles, all contradicting, and, since I’m no scientist, its hard to know what is fear and suspicion and what is truth. That is exactly where Eula Biss starts off—she is a poet and a mom, like me, and also like me she wants to know what all this talk about vaccinations is about. She researches the history of our nation’s fear of vaccination, the history of vaccination in itself, the cultural associations with vaccinations, irrational and rational. She writes about herd immunity and our responsibility to society, our mistrust of the government, our feeling that vaccinations were only for the Other, not for Us. Biss is pro-immunization—but even if you aren’t, I recommend reading it because it’s entertaining, well-researched, and beautifully written.

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