Tag Archives: Adrienne Rich

Books I’m Thankful For

Not too long ago, author August McLaughlin, shared on her blog the Books I’m Crazy Grateful For in honor of Thanksgiving.  I loved her post and thought what a perfect way to pay an homage to the writers who’ve made a difference in her life.  I encourage all of you to share the books you’re grateful too and post the link in the comments, or link back to my post or August’s, after all, I’m always hungry for more great reads!  And Christmas is coming, I may need to add some titles to my wish list.

The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich:  If one could call a book one’s bible, then mine would be Adrienne Rich’s The Fact of a Doorframe, a collection of her poetry from 1950 – 2001.  On a trip with a friend’s family to New York, we perused the NYU campus on a tour since he’d applied.  I meandered through the stacks of books in the bookstore and happened upon this anthology.  If you’ve never read a Rich poem, you’re missing out.  She is everything beauty and savage combined, if you ask me.  She’s a herald for civil rights, namely women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and Jewish rights.  She put a face and reality to the hardships of being a mother in her non-fiction book Of Woman Born, which I wrote a semester-long paper on.  In fact, over the course of my college career, I believe I wrote no less than 10 papers on either Rich’s life or dissected her literary works.  I also filled a journal with my own poetry that was very clearly imitation in style of Rich’s.  I recall in an interview she said she was not afraid to write about the “monstrous,” I hope one day I may say the same.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving:  Goodreads compares John Irving as America’s Charles Dickens!  That’s big hype, but it’s a credit I may agree with.  I haven’t read enough Irving to speak of all his works, but this novel was one that deeply moved me.  For those of you familiar with the film, The Cider House Rules, is the story of a doctor, Wilbur Larch, who runs an orphanage and also practices abortion if the couple decides it’s best.  The story follows one of the orphans in particular, Homer Wells, who is educated by Larch on the practices of gynecology.  But Homer leaves it all behind to explore the world and winds up working on an apple orchard, a peculiar place where his services just may be needed after all.  I grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school where we were forced to complete catechism-noted final papers every fall on all topics such as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia.  I won first place for a paper I wrote about abortion.  Here’s the thing though, we were not allowed to write any opinion, we could only use the Bible and the Catechism as our reference books.  Reading The Cider House Rules years later in High School gave me the perspective of someone else, and transformed my views to be open-minded about the decisions someone makes regarding their body.  This is not a book that is solely pro-life or pro-choice, but it poses both sides in a way for the reader to (I hope) understand where each comes from.  And for those that have seen the film, it’s a really interesting adaptation with new characters in the book that were combined into one person in the film.  I highly recommend this one!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:  You should be seeing a commonality between Rubin’s title and this blog.  The Happiness Project is a monthly quest to change the way you both live and perceive the world around you, with the intention of finding more happiness.  While I will warn the reader, Rubin’s book is a condensed version of the actual work she did over the course of the year, so sometimes her seemingly simply advice fails to grasp the reality of the life change you may be making, it is still a book that will get you thinking and making positive changes in your life to be more happy.  Biggest change I made after reading this book, well folks, I started this blog.

The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick:  Of course The Mayflower would make my list!  Reading about the historical voyage and first fifty years of the Mayflower passengers was a wonderful view into the past of my ancestors.  I appreciate the research that Philbrick did because he truly tries to tell all sides of the story.  No group is in the utmost right or wrong, and that period of fifty years was a series of alliances, friendships, and wars.  I have great respect for all the individuals who fought so hard to make a new life for themselves.

What are the books you’re most grateful for?

For Huckleberry

In light of the recent book banning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, it got me thinking about books that have made a difference to me.  I certainly read the Twain novel in high school, and I recall it starting many open discussions in the classroom.  Introduced at the right age level, books like “Huckleberry” are a picture of history.  If we change the language of the book, how are we not also erasing a bit of history?  I already believe much of history is lost since it’s always written by only the ones that survive the times!  We need books like this one to arouse open conversations and tell us about our nation’s past.  I highly recommend you check out CMStewart‘s blog for more on the Huckleberry book ban.  Unabridgedgirl also has a discussion started on Mark Twain and book bans, too.

What I’d like to share with you is one author who I adore.  Frankly, her book of poems titled The Fact of a Doorframe is my Bible.  If that upsets anyone, I apologize, but I just mean, her words touch my soul.  Her name is Adrienne Rich and I could easily write an entire blog daily all about her.  I think over the course of college, I wrote like 10 papers on her.  She has many books out written about her experiences as a mother, a Jew, a lesbian, and a woman.  But it is her poetry which I find so haunting and illuminating at the same time.

I invite you all to check out her poem “The Burning of Paper Instead of Children.” This poem is the one I happened to flip to when I was perusing the campus bookstore shelves at NYU.  Of all the books I’ve ever thumbed through in my life, I have never had a book call out to me so strongly.  On what was a tagalong trip to New York while my best friend toured a campus I could never afford to go to, I found a saving grace in the bookstore.  For the next several years I emulated her writing as much as I could, but that’s beside the point.  I just wanted to share a work that inspired me and moved me so much, and I hope you all enjoy it too.  Rich was never afraid to write about “monsters,” as she called them.  And with all that’s happening over the book ban news burst, I found this poem again to be very fitting.

I hope she inspires you as she has me over and over again.  Happy reading!

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