Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
(Front Street, 2001, 112 pages)
The Nelson kick continues…
I loved this George Washington Carver biography told through poems. I feel like he’s a figure people think they know but he’s done so much more than many realize. I had no idea what his backstory was or all the things that he did. His story is inspiring – this quiet, religious, nature-loving intellectual was dedicated to doing what he could to help improve the lives of farmers through his research. He was also committed to the students at Tuskegee University and worked diligently to see them succeed.
This is a beautiful portrayal of his life that will only encourage you to learn more about him. Not to mention it will inspire you to continue reading the fabulous work of Marilyn Nelson 🙂
Portrait of a Nation: Men and Women Who Have Shaped America; 2nd edition
by the National Portrait Gallery
(Smithsonian Books, 2015, 312 pages)
After the unveiling of the Obama portraits I was inspired to learn more about the National Portrait Gallery and the works that are displayed there. Portrait of a Nation highlights men and women from many walks of life who have been influential in American life. This includes historical figures, presidents, performers, celebrities… Each portrait is partnered with a brief biographical blurb about the figure explaining what led them to be incorporated into the collection.
One of the main things I came away with when reading this book was a list of artists whose work I wanted to explore in greater depth and whose biographies piqued my interest. Even if you can’t make it to the National Portrait Gallery, it’s worthwhile to get a glimpse at some of the pieces in their collection.
The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
by Neal Bascomb
(Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004, 322 pages)
Three athletes, three countries: thrilling.
The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink by Olivia Laing
(Canongate Books, 2013, 340 pages)
After reading The Lonely City in December I fell under the spell of Olivia Laing. In The Trip to Echo Spring she decides to try and figure out the connection between the work of a few noted authors and their alcoholism. I was initially surprised because Laing chose to focus exclusively on men, but she acknowledges this within the text and has her reasons for limiting herself to one gender. The authors she focused on are: John Berryman, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams.
Laing draws connections between the authors, their work and their drinking by following a route through the United States that has her stopping in locations that had significant impacts on all of the authors. This book is a combination of biography, history, literary criticism, and personal memoir. I was taking notes as I read because I felt like she just gave me a taste of all the men she profiled and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to dive into their biographies and read more of their work.
I’d definitely recommend the book, especially if you’re someone who appreciates reading about literary figures and their “processes.”
Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas by Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas
(Bloomsbury, 2017, 368 pages)
Just Stanley shootin’ the sh*t.
MLK: A Celebration in Word and Image by Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Beacon Press, 2011, 64 pages)
Intimate look at MLK’s life.
Love in Vain: Robert Johnson, 1911-1938 by J.M. Dupont; art by Mezzo
(Faber & Faber, 2016, 72 pages)
Paying homage with phenomenal illustrations.
Munch by Steffen Kverneland; translated by Francesca M. Nichols
(SelfMadeHero, 2016, 280 pages)
Excellent research; event better artwork.
The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy by Bill Hayes
(Ballantine Books, 2008, 250 pages)
Gray and Carter: equal collaborators.
Peacock and Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny by A. S. Byatt
(Knopf, 2016, 192 pages)
Masterful writer, connecting two aesthetics.