Hi, MSM, and welcome back to Shelf Care.
Technically yesterday was the last day of National Poetry Month, but even though May has officially arrived, I wanted to squeeze in one last book of poems–because poetry can be enjoyed all year round, not just during one month! So this week’s first recommendation is So Far So Good by Ursula K. Le Guin. Unlike the poetry books in my last two posts, this book isn’t a narrative. Instead, it’s full of more traditional poetry that plays with rhyme and rhythm. Le Guin is my all-time favorite author, best known for her science fiction. But she also loved to play with words, and so she loved poetry as well. Sadly she passed away in January 2018, and So Far So Good was her last book of poetry, written between 2014 and the time of her passing. What I loved about this collection is that it shows a glimpse into Le Guin’s mind in her final years. There are poems where she reflects on her family, ones where she muses on aging, and some that look back on her career. In some of the more serious poems she references history, philosophy, Greek mythology, and Arthurian legends. And then there are some poems that will just make you laugh–like the one about her cat, Pard. It’s a collection that really showcases her talent for the English language, and if you’re looking for something short but thoughtful to read, this is a great choice.
My second recommendation this week is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This fairy tale is deeply rooted in Polish folklore. It tells the story of a small village called Dvernik in the kingdom of Polnya. The village is ruled by a lord and wizard nicknamed “the Dragon.” He protects the people of the village from the evil of the Wood, a malicious, corrupt forest that spreads its evil across the kingdom through a dark magic. But the Dragon’s protection comes at a cost: Every ten years, he comes to the village to take a girl to live in his tower with him. No one knows why, but because he is so powerful no one questions him. The girls always return safely to the village, but they never want to stay home for long and often end up seeking a life of adventure elsewhere, without telling anyone much at all about the decade they spent in the Dragon’s tower. When this story begins, following a village girl named Agnieszka, a “choosing year” is approaching and everyone is sure the Dragon will pick Agnieszka’s beautiful and talented best friend, Kasia. But of course he surprises everyone and chooses someone else… I’m only halfway through the book so far, but it’s the first one that I cannot put down since we started our lockdown. As I’ve said in previous posts, concentrating is hard when we’re collectively experiencing such an uncertain moment in history. Uprooted is the first book that has fully distracted me for an hour or more at a time. The fascinating, magical world Novik built is truly an escape. It reminds me of Beauty and the Beast with a Polish folklore twist, and I cannot recommend it enough!
So there you have it for our fifth week of Shelf Care. If you’ve checked out any of these books and want to chat about them, or if you have any book recommendations for me, feel free to send me an email.
Ms. Lee Ann Kostempski, Library Media Specialist