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Tag: good books

The Joy of Rediscovering Shirley Jackson

The Joy of Rediscovering Shirley Jackson

In preparing for a class on gothic elements in fiction, I pulled an old book from my shelves. I’d gone searching for Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, but I found myself drawn to We Have Always Lived in the Castle instead. Have you read this book? I don’t think I’ve read it in more than thirty years, but once I flipped it open I couldn’t put it down. Lordy, it’s amazing. It’s a slim book. My paperback copy comes in…

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We Read, Joyce Carol Oates. We Read.

We Read, Joyce Carol Oates. We Read.

Give anyone enough time and they will break your heart. I am a southerner. I live in Denver now, but I spent the first 21 years of my life in Mississippi. I first read Joyce Carol Oates’s short story, “How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again” as part of an English class in the Jackson, Mississippi public school system. I knew I wanted to read more and over the years,…

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Banned Books I Have Loved

Banned Books I Have Loved

It’s Banned Books Week and organizations from the American Booksellers Association to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (who knew?) are commemorating our right to read without censorship. When we think of banned books, we often think of books forbidden by the government ala the plot of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451,  but that isn’t really how books are banned in America today. Our books tend to be banned one school district or library at a time. And it’s often aimed at…

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How to Make a Nightmare

How to Make a Nightmare

Take one late summer cold virus. Stir in a generous helping of all the following symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, coughing, congestion, headache, backache, fever, exhaustion. Add copious amounts of unpronounceable over-the-counter medications: pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, guaifenesin, phenylephrine bitartrate, aspirin. For added fun, examine labels and research drug interactions while peering through dirty reading glasses. You are too exhausted to clean the glasses or find a different pair. Doze on the sofa while your husband watches a movie from the Netflix horror…

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Mama Knows Best? Not Always

Mama Knows Best? Not Always

This weekend my home state held its annual Mississippi Book Festival. I didn’t go. It’s a long way from Denver to Jackson, but my mother gave me a full report. She told me Ellen Gilchrist was super funny and charming at the morning session. No surprise. She told me about young adult author Angie Thomas and the road to publication for her debut The Hate U Give. I can’t wait to read it. And she told me about the powerful…

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For Freedom, Just Add Water

For Freedom, Just Add Water

My husband is a whiz at fast-forwarding through television commercials. I am not so quick to the button. When he travels, as he’s doing now, I see a lot of random advertisements while I’m watching Jeopardy! or the news. There is an ad running now that is both relentlessly terrifying and ridiculous. It’s an ad for something called Wise Food Storage. It opens with an extreme closeup of a man staring into the camera and declaring: You may not be…

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Break the Rules

Break the Rules

Last week I sat in the Memphis airport and waited to board a United Airlines flight. My dog was on my lap. My dog is a 10-pound, 10-year-old, double dapple miniature dachshund named Maui. Most people love Maui. She is small and cute and charming. When Maui travels with me she spends the plane ride in a soft carrier underneath the seat, but I usually keep her on my lap until we board. My flight took place just about a week after…

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It’s Raining. No, That’s the Sun.

It’s Raining. No, That’s the Sun.

Like so many people across the country and around the world, I marched this weekend. My husband and I joined the crowd of about 200,000 men, women, and children in Denver. We walked and chanted and laughed and waved as we ran into people we knew from various places. We failed to meet up with others, because the crowd was too large and cell service was spotty. It didn’t matter. We were all there together, whether we found each other or…

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Tragedy Plus Time

Tragedy Plus Time

As I mentioned in this space last week, I’m currently reading The Storied South, a book that compiles interviews from southern writers, photographers, musicians, painters, and scholars. In the sections featuring Margaret Walker and Alice Walker, both women talk about the influence of Zora Neale Hurston. It’s been many years since I read Their Eyes Were Watching God. I decided to read it again. I remembered it as a powerful story. I remembered the use of strong dialect. What I’d forgotten somehow was the…

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The Parade Passes By

The Parade Passes By

For Christmas, my mother gave me a book called The Storied South. It’s a collection of interviews, conversations, and excerpts from lectures compiled by southern folklorist William Ferris. I’ve been reading bits and pieces each day. It’s the sort of book that’s good to read in bits and pieces. Today, I was particularly struck by this observation from Margaret Walker: “It takes a lot of energy to write. You need more than physical energy. You need psychic energy. I have to get my work…

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