Exploring Poetry: Milk and Honey; Love Her Wild; Delights and Shadows; Mary Oliver

I've long said that I struggle with reading poetry; it's like my brain can't figure out how to look at the words on the page and make them make sense in my head. I've found recently, however, that this is less of an inherent inability than it has been a refusal to slow. down. and read more meaningfully, purposefully. And so I've made a more conscious effort to explore poetry of late. A few stand-outs, in no particular order:

Review: A Line Made by Walking, by Sara Baume

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission.

A Line Made by Walking, Sara Baume's second novel, takes its title from a 1967 artwork by Richard Long. He walked back and forth in a straight line across a field and photographed the resulting flattened path of grass--a testament to Long's existence. In Baume's novel, Frankie, a young woman struggling with mental illness and an unsettling shift toward adulthood, attempts to find her place in the world--and prove that place and her existence in it have meaning. Even the mud on the stoop left by her boots is comforting in its own way: "so I know I must exist after all--that I must still be here." 

#SJBookClub: Our August Book is Whipping Girl by Julia Serano

Halloooo, strangers. Just popping in quickly to remind everyone that, despite a brief hiatus, the Social Justice Book Club is still very much alive and well. We'll be reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity for our August book, and I. Cannot. Wait. I've had my eye on this book since I first saw that Seal Press was publishing a new edition in 2016, and have heard nothing but stellar things about its thoughtfulness and intelligence.

If you're already a member of the Social Justice Book Club Slack group, look for the #whippinggirl channel over there. If you'd like an invite, comment below with your email address or email me at ofabookworm AT gmail DOT com and I'll get you signed up.


I keep thinking I'll come back to writing here, and eventually, I know I will. But in the meantime, I'm working on my return to reading for pleasure and running for joy, and writing is taking a bit of a back burner. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

What We Are When We Are Not the Roles We Play

I have worked hard, in my adult life, not to identify myself solely by my job. I am more than the forty hours of work that I do each week, no matter how much I may love what I do during those hours. I also strive to be more than what I am to other people. Of course, I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a dog mom, a cat mom, a partner, a coworker, a volunteer. But those only describe me in terms of how I relate to other people; they do not answer the question of who I am.

For most of my life, I would tell you that I am a reader. For the last few years, I may have become comfortable with calling myself a writer. And in recent months, I've finally started to consider myself a runner.

What, then, happens when we remove those labels? In recent months, I've been on some kind of continual reading slump. I finish books, sure, but nothing clicks the way it used to, the way it did when I first came to identify as a reader. And short of deadlines I try not to miss (because I am on time), I haven't written much of anything, and what I have written has been fluffy at best. So I have not been much of a writer lately either.

I typically run several days a week, and recently completed my first ultramarathon, so I'm comfortable enough calling myself a runner. But I fell--hard--a while back, and found myself unable to run for over a month. Even now, I'm not back to my many-mile self, the one who wrote after running a 50k that I hoped to keep up 20-30 mile weeks. I'm lucky if I eek out 15 of late, and none of those miles are pleasant ones.

Which has me thinking: what are we when we are not the roles we play? What defines our day, shapes our selves, fills our time, sets our direction?

I don't have the answers, yet. Just the questions. So maybe for now I'm a seeker, or a questioner, or a breather. Or maybe I need to learn to end the sentence after "I am."

I am.

I am.

I am.

And just be.

Race Report: North Face Endurance Challenge DC 50k Trail Run

I didn't wear closed-toed shoes for four days after this event, but otherwise, felt pretty ok... (this is my doofy-tired-proud face)

There was a time, not so long ago, when I would have proudly stated that I had no interest in ever running any distance longer than a half marathon, thank-you-very-much. And then I ran 15.5 miles at a trail race in the fall, and I was hooked. Moving off roads and onto trails, up mountains, and over streams made something click for me. With very little convincing from some fellow trail running buddies, I signed up for my first take at an ultramarathon: The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k.

Week in Reading (and Mostly Running): May 8th

It's May! It's May! The lovely month of May! With my two big races* of the spring behind me, I'm hopeful that some (desperately needed) recovery time in the next few weeks will include books, books, and more books (and a little bit of television**). Here's what's on deck:

I seem to be on a kick for historical Essex-based novels about (possibly) supernatural forces. After finishing The Essex Serpent this weekend (review to come in Shelf Awareness for Readers), I'm just starting Strange Magic. The former was a quiet, contemplative novel that ruminated on good and evil, nature and faith, love and regret, and the human condition. The latter, so far, looks to be about 16th-century witch trials in Essex and a modern-day museum preserving their memory. My book clubs this month are reading Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie (a re-read for me) and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (a new book from a much-loved author). Maybe somewhere in there I'll work in something that's not for a deadline, but right now, it's not looking promising on that front...

I'm also re-reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (the Pulitzer-prize winning work by Matthew Desmond) for the Social Justice Book Club this month. It's not too late to join in if you'd like; sign up for an invite here, or if you're already in the Slack, just add yourself to the #evicted channel over there.


*I finished my first ever ultramarathon! 31.7 miles of trails on a 90+ degree day, and I didn't die. Full race report to come later this week. I followed that up with a "recovery" run at the Frederick Half Marathon, and plan to sit on my butt and sleep a lot this week to apologize to my poor feet.

**In the queue: The Handmaid's Tale, American Gods, and catching up on Timeless.


What are you reading this week? What else should I be watching? What are your favorite rest & recovery regimens?

Readathon Mini-Challenge: Pay it Forward

I'm super bummed I can't be participating in the readathon as actively today as I may have liked... but I'm so, so glad to be able to join in as a mini-challenge host! In keeping with the spirit of giving that Dewey was known for, and that this round of Readathon is embracing, I'm changing things up a little bit. Instead of competing for a prize for yourself, let's spread the love of books and literacy with reading-related charities around the world...