bitty betty Books!


 037) The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, finished April 21

Early in quarantine, on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to try the baby out on Pooh. It wasn't a great success. For a long time she held a grudge. But eventually we returned to it, now and then—sometimes in great marathons, sometimes in single paragraphs.

Meanwhile, bedtime became chapter-book central—but Pooh continued on slowly, slowly.

These books are terrific. I love reading them. Even at this pace.

She liked it okay.

like all of coronatimes

038) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished April 22

First, fun fact no one will care about before we get started, I just learned that Mary Adrian was a pen name for one Mary Eleanor Penn. 

(Was that not fun?)

Anyway, this is an enormously important book to me, personally, to my childhood. I talked about this at some length back in 2011 so I won't repeat myself, but I loved it. I loved it.

This time, it was the little girl's turn. Every night, after books and prayer, she asks me to tell a story from my childhood. And one time I told her about The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard and she was immediately captivated. We had to finish Stuart Little first, but it had to be our next book. And so it was. And we rushed through it!

Every night was exciting, absolutely captivating. And every day she would tell her mother about mysterious sounds and amazing discoveries and whatever whatevers.

The book is far from a classic. Hardly anyone as ever heard of it. It's only easy to get a copy because no one else wants one. And yet—

It's terrific.

Reading it this time, I was fascinated by aspects of technique I don't remember noticing before. Example: the kids are lost in the desert for a significant portion of the book. They are in serious danger!

Anyway, that's all I have to say. All that and sorry for the watermark on the cover. There isn't a better image online and I don't want to pay Photobucket money to fix mine. Nor do I feel like rescanning it just now. I apologize.

postscript: just discovered the book is available in near-identical form (title's changed, at least one character has a different name)

under a week

039) The Garden of Enid—Volume One by Scott Hales, finished May 2

I wasn't so sure about reading this to the child (books with her are all I seem to be finishing lately?) and sure, most of the jokes are over her heard, but she's getting into Enid as a character and the talking CTR ring is Hil Ar I Ous.

Strong case to be made that this is MoLit's best comic so far. It's easily top five and probably top three.

sunday monday tuesday sunday

040) Tiny Writings by Danny Nelson, finished May 5

Something I must make absolutely clear before we go any further is that you must buy this book. You must. It is truly excellent and there is no way you will ever get your hands on it unless you buy it. Also, you should act now because Danny has a habit of suddenly removing his work from availability. Not books, so much, but I don't trust him. His ugly-duckling series was one of the most marvelous things I've read and it's not available now. I don't think it ever will be again.

I'm not saying this just because Danny's my friend, though he is. And not just because his poem "Creation" is so great that after making its debut in The Fob Bible it was chosen by the editors of both Fire in the Pasture and Dove Song for inclusion there as well, making it Peculiar Pages' most revisited work and with zero complaints.

What makes me mad is that Danny is one of our great talents but he's too dang reserved. He does most of his writing in small bursts for very private audiences which are then, sometimes, published in books with nearly no fanfare which hardly anyone will ever read.


The genesis of this book was a list of words, each of which became the title of a piece of flash fiction. Thus, there are fifty-two such short-shorts (one for each week of the year) plus thirty-one more (for each day of any month you like) which thirty-one include the nine originally written as proof of concept. And while a couple are jokey and another couple have a p-o-v-violating throwaway line at the end and a couple more delve into a genre without 300% confidence and while there are a handful of dumb copyediting errors that shouldn't have made it into print, those few errors do not change the fact that this is easily the best single-author (or, for that matter, multi-author) flash collection I have ever read. No contest. It doesn't matter what world Danny enters or how long he stays there, he peoples it with fully living souls engaged in important conversations and actions. Almost without exception, these stories are not small excerpts from a longer work you'll wish you could read—no, they are utterly satisfying and complete works, all on their own.

The stamina required to write these eighty-three stories is staggering. Orson Scott Card famously said that writing a short story is just as much work as a novel in that both require you to create a world entire. While that's an obvious exaggerration his point is a good one. And, let me repeat, Danny just did this eighty-three blanketyblankin times.

Ignoring shipping, it's the same price both morally and immorally, a mere nine ninety-nine. It's the perfect too-late-to-read read. It's the Mrs Winston of books with weird covers.

a couple weeks

041) Whispering Death! by R.A. Christmas, finished May 6

Bob heard that I was reviewing his previous collection in Dialogue and reached out to see if I would blurb his latest work. I said yes although the review's since come out and who knows how he feels now.

Happily, I like this one much more. I'm not sure if he's actually getting better or if I'm just getting better at reading him but, regardless, I thought this collection was, you know, good.
It has two primary threads. One is the names-changed autobiographical account of Hank---mostly with his wife June but also exploring her other wives and June's absence, following her death. The second is further poems about the god Dog, a polygamous monotheo, and his son, First Pup, and their many worlds to be watched over and saved. In Leaves of Sass, the Dog poems felt like tired jokes to me. But in Whispering Death! their wit is genuinely funny and paired with a weariness that makes anything silly about the poems part of their holy point.

Christmas is in his eighties. He's outlived plenty of the world he grew up in, from people to words to sodas, and part of what this collection does so well is show how the old don't quite fit in. They say the human body replaces every atom every seven years. Ol' Hanks' one of the few atoms left and he doesn't recognize the body as well as once he did. (The poems on geriatric sex nearly move this from subtext to text.)

At moments, a couple poems reveal a near maga sensibility, but the speaker in these poems is trying, even if he knows his ultimate success will come with his death:

But Hank knows that to finally
end racism everybody his age
(eighty-one) probably had to
die. That's his white story. 

But this distance and the chaos of the journey that brought him to it also grants him the ability to see clearly our failings as well. Read "Rameumptom Rebooted" and try to feel innocent, oh Saint.

Note that, as implied, my copy was provided by the author in exchange for a blurb which will say some of the same things you see here. The book itself is not yet released but will be soon. Christmas's books are available exclusively through Lulu. 

maybe two week

042) Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, finished May 9

I'm not sure I've laughed out loud reading a play this much before. Certainly not in a very, very long time. It's utter madness and, as with the last time I spent real time with a Shakespeare comedy, I can't understand why it hasn't been turned into fine animation. Animation is the natural home for these plays. Can you imagine?

Anyway, I'm excited to spend time with it with my students the rest of the month. I expect them to queer it every which way. Should be fun.

from thursday

Previously . . . . :


books from this year

1, 2, 4, 5, 6

001) The Sun Has Burned My Skin: a modest paraphrase of solomon's song of songs by Adam S. Miller, finished January 3
002) You're a Pal, Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 4
004) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 9
005) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 17
006) Shem in Zarahemla by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 19

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 3

007) iPlates: Zerin's Sacrifice by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 21
008) iPlates: Alma in the Wilderness by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 24
009) Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, finished January 27
010) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished February 4
011) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, finished February 4
003) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, finished January 6

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

012) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, finished February 5
013) My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, finished February 15
014) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, finished February 16
015) Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, finished February 18
016) A Desolating Sickness: Stories of Pandemic edited by D.J. Butler, finished February 21
017) Nothing Very Important and other stories by Béla Petsco, finished February 22

18, 19, 20, 21, 22

018) Muppets Present "The Great Gatsby" by Ben Crew, finished February 24
 Uncanny Avengers: Counter-Evolutionary by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna, finished February 28
 Guts by Raina Telgemeier, finished March 2
 The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by D. Manus Pinkwater, finished March 4
022) Ghosts by Raina Telgemeieir, finished March 5

23, 24, 25, 26, 27

023) Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian, finished March 11
 Memoirs of an Invisible Man by H.F. Saint, finished March 12
 Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, finished March 20
 The Invisible Saint by Curtis Taylor, finished March 25
 Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, finished March 25

28, 29, 30

028) Scrap Mettle by Scott Morse, finished March 26
029) Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse, finished April 1
030) The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse, finished April 1

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36

031) Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do by James Thurber and E. B. White, finished April 1
032) Boys Who Became Prophets by Lynda Cory Hardy, finished April 11
033) George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall, finished April 12
034) Stuart Little by E.B. White, finished April 14
035) Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, finished April 15
036) Have It Your Way, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 15


final posts in this series from
2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012
2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020


the most recent post in the books-read series *


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