The end of the year is an irresistible time to reflect on all the fabulous art each of us read, watched, played, and listened to in 2019, and many of our staff wanted to celebrate those high points together. Narrowing down to only three favorites each has not been easy, but this grand finale has given us lots to debate — and we hope it offers the same to you!
Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2017 as their favorites.
If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: A Novel about Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem by Sonya Sones is referred to as “chick lit” in poetry format by a 50ish-year-old woman going through a tough time. I read this in two hours and had my own epiphany. Life changing? Maybe not for all, but definitely an interesting voice for those in the “sandwich generation.”
Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? Enjoy this book for either of the following categories:
A. Read a book written by a new-to-you author.
P. Read a collection of poetry.
– a mermaid escapist II
People come to poetry with all sorts of preconceptions: it has to be complicated, it has to rhyme, or it is just not for me. A crop of up-and-coming writers has helped new audiences find appeal in playing with expression, and Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Magic series sparks strong reaction. The Princess Saves Herself in This One taps into feeling and thought and trauma and joy in a way that speaks to those who struggle to feel seen or understood. It faces hard things without giving them additional power, and it clings stubbornly to youthful hope. With forewarnings both for sensitive topics and for happy endings, this inaugural collection offers energy and accessibility. Welcome to National Poetry Month!
“Poetry allows for us to lead first with the heart.” –Eve Ewing
If you don’t read poetry often and are curious to read more, Electric Arches is a great place to start. Eve L. Ewing, Chicago essayist and poet, frankly explores contemporary society, sprinkling a little magical what-if into stark reality. The structure and tone vary greatly from poem-to-poem, resulting in a rounded picture of Ewing’s life and heart as she opens the door into her experience as a black girl and woman. An extra bonus for those familiar with Chicago are the references Ewing makes to this city she has grown up in, painting pictures of places impactful to her, such as Logan Square and Fullerton Avenue.
Ever wonder what Walt Whitman’s voice sounded like? Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, or e.e. cummings? In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry invites us to be ear-witnesses to history and art in its purest form. This collection of distinguished poets reading well-known works bares inflection, meaning, and musicality of crafted phrase.
These days we might prefer professionally-trained narrators and seamless productions, but there is illumination to be found in hearing even familiar lines read in the voices of those who dreamed them into existence. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month by listening to the natural cadences of William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Maya Angelou, and a host of other extraordinary voices.