Linda Rodriguez’s third Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear (Minotaur Books), was published earlier this month. Her second Skeet mystery, Every Broken Trust, was a selection of Las Comadres National Latino Book Club and is currently a finalist for both the International Latino Book Award and the Premio Aztlan Literary Prize. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, which won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick and a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” which appeared in Kansas City Noir (Akashic Books), has been optioned for film. For her books of poetry, Skin Hunger and Heart’s Migration, Rodriguez received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Midwest Voices and Visions Award, Thorpe Menn Award, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, and Macondo and Ragdale Fellowships. She is immediate past president of the Borders Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, and International Thriller Writers. Find her on Twitter, on Facebook, and on blogs with The Stiletto Gang, Writers Who Kill, and her own blog.
Some of the books by my bed are constant residents because I love to reread them, usually poetry. These books sit with the stacks of books I intend to read because they have been highly recommended by people whose judgment I trust. These are usually novels. The nonfiction books others have recommended or that I’m reading for research sit elsewhere because I like to take notes when reading nonfiction. When I’m sick or stressed, it’s poetry to which I turn, however, so I always have some of those favorites at hand.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman is currently sitting by my bed because I recently took a remarkable MOOC, massive open online course, from the University of Iowa that delved deeply into Whitman’s quintessential work in a way that even my graduate work didn’t. In this country, Leaves of Grass is the bedrock from which most of our best poetry springs, and I find again and again new depths in Whitman’s work every time I reread it.
Rounding the Human Corners by Linda Hogan is my favorite of Hogan’s remarkable books of poetry. It offers visionary imagery and lyrical language, as one had come to expect from Hogan, but the Chickasaw poet is also a dedicated volunteer and consultant for wildlife rehabilitation and endangered species programs and writes with the naturalist’s eye and a profound sense of the relationships humans have with the rest of creation, whether we know it or not. Another book I often revisit is Hogan’s novel, Mean Spirit, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Award and appears on many lists of Best Novels of the Twentieth Century. This is a stunning and powerful work.
Claiming Breath by Diane Glancy is another of the evergreens that stay on my bedside table. This collection of essays is my favorite among Glancy’s many volumes of essays and creative nonfiction. She writes with a poet’s eye and ear and with a mystic’s sense of the world around her. This Cherokee writer has won so many awards in every genre—poetry, essay/creative nonfiction, short fiction, novel, memoir, stage play, screenplay—that she should hardly need any introduction, yet I’m always amazed at the number of well-read people who are unaware of Glancy’s superb work.
A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works by Levi Romero is a book packed with poems full of powerful emotion, good-natured wit, and a generosity of spirit. Romero takes the reader by the hand and introduces him to the world of families who have been in New Mexico since the Conquistadors and before them. This is a book written with a clear eye, yet it is always apparent how much love for this ancient community of intertwined families informs Romero’s work.
Beyond these books, the stack beside my bed varies from week to week, containing ARCs for reviews and blurbs, books others have recommended, and books by authors whose earlier books I’ve loved. But these books remain from month to month as aids to my meditation and musical delights in which to indulge myself.
Any new-to-you titles in this list you can’t wait to read? If so, what sold you?