April 26, 2006

Small Book; Small Poems

I keep a small writing book where I write small poems. I think it's similar to the way fish won't grow beyond a certain size depending on the size tank they live in, or the way a flowerpot can sometimes limit the size of the plant in it. I only use one page per poem in that book. It's almost a form for me. It allows me to limit what I must and can write.

I paged through an anthology today and pulled out a few small poems that caught my attention this afternoon while I was sitting in the shade of my backyard. There's probably some early summer, hot day, sitting in shade, getting sleepy while you're reading theme that runs through the selections... but I don't want to look for it.


Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

Galway Kinnell


You love the roses - so do I. I wish
They sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!

George Eliot

The Eclipse

I stood out in the open cold
To see the essence of the eclipse
Which was its perfect darkness.

I stood in the cold on the porch
And could not think of anything so perfect
As mans hope of light in the face of darkness.

Richard Eberhart

Time and Again

Time and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke


My hands
open the curtains of your being
clothe you in a further nudity
uncover the bodies of your body
My hands
invent another body for your body

Octavio Paz

April 14, 2006

Some book recommendations for you

Have you ever tried any of the recommendation engine website online?

There's Pandora which let's you set up your own radio station online by putting in your favorite artists and songs. It plays those songs and artists and then starts to pick songs it thinks you will enjoy based on your favorites. I've done it and it works pretty well. It's free.

Well, now there's something similar for books.

You can just go to whatshouldyoureadnext.com and put in a book you like and the site will check their database of other readers' favorite books and suggest what you could read next. They compare it to "browsing the bookshelves of a very well read friend."

For the service to be more accurate, you should register (just an email address) and build your own list of favorite books.

I registered and entered a dozen, then asked for recommendations. I'd say that the results were pretty accurate to my taste because more than half of the recommendations were other books that I have read and enjoyed. (You can check THOSE titles off then and have them added to your list.) As your list grows, the recommendations get better - or more interesting. (So far, it really thinks I should read Fight Club.)

They also have "What have I read tests" they compiled lists of users' most popular books (according to the number of lists they appear in) by genre (Top 25 science fiction/fantasy, classic fiction, modern classics, non-fiction etc.). Try those and it will build you list of favorites up and it's faster than typing in titles and authors. To save time on that process: if you want to add John Irving's The World According to Garp (and I would definitely have to add that one) you can just type Irving and World Garp and it will find it. The search is pretty good.

I took one of the tests and it produced these results for me:

What have I read?
These are the 25 most popular modern-classic books at What Should I Read Next?
I liked it!I didn't like it!I want to read it!
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

It's a cool service and it made me think about my favorite books again. So what's their business model? Books come with handy links to buying from Amazon (US or UK - it's a UK site). If there's something you like and you buy your books from Amazon US or Amazon UK
through their links, they make a little bit (a few cents) on each purchase.