New year, new column! I am so excited to start writing this new column I am calling the Book Nook. As much as I love writing, I’m always reading books. So I was able to convince the Powers that Be to allow me to write a column about books I’ve been reading.
At DIY MFA, we don’t do traditional reviews of books—and that’s totally fine with me because I don’t like writing traditional reviews of books. For the Book Nook, I am more interested in focusing on what I like or don’t like about books. And given that I don’t enjoy reading books I don’t like, I will also follow the second dictum of DIY MFA, which is not writing mean things.
A bit about my process:
- I read multiple books at once. I always have one going in print (to give my eyes a break from screen time) and one on my Kindle (because sometimes I can’t sleep in the middle of the night).
- I start and stop books at random. Just because I pick up a book doesn’t mean I read it straight through. Sometimes that happens: a book grabs me and won’t let go. Other times I’m just not feeling it, so I set it aside for a while and pick it back up later.
I guess my process is really only two bullets. I’ll leave it set apart like that because it looks more official.
Every time I come up in the rotation for the Book Nook, I will write a bit about what’s come across my desk. I’ll let you know if I’ve finished it. If I haven’t finished, I won’t tell you. I’ll let you know what I liked about the book and/or how I reacted. I’ll even keep a tally of my Goodreads goal at the bottom. I’m still feeling out the column and figuring out what my boundaries are, so I can push them.
Even now, I know I am pushing the web editor’s buttons because I’m running up against deadline and I don’t have a ton of books to mention. You see, that week between Christmas and New Years, I am like the Charmin bears, but with cheese. I don’t know what day it is or if days even exist any longer. And prior to that, I had Covid. Basically, I’m saying I haven’t done a great job of reading books or even keeping track of my reading the past few weeks. But I am starting the Book Nook, hell or high water.
I asked for the ability to add to this post in the coming days before it gets scheduled and was told I’m fired, so this might be my first and last Book Nook column.
On to the books I remember picking up recently (in no particular order)…
David Sedaris is hands down one of my favorite authors. I’m still reading this one because it is massive. I recently took a humor writing class taught by Sedaris, so I’m trying to really study how he writes. But I will say that it’s been fun to see how much ground he’s covered in his career. I can’t wait to read what’s next!
This is another I’m still reading. I’ve been on a comedy kick lately. What I love about this book is that it’s not a how-to, but all of the bits Seinfeld has written are arranged chronologically, so you can observe how his approach evolved over his career. It’s also fun recognizing some of them from the openings of various Seinfeld episodes.
I’ve read this one before, but now I’m studying it. I’m really into Eve Babitz and Anolik’s biography is amazing—it’s like sitting down for a gossip session with a friend—so I thought that it might be useful to read a bio to learn about her influences, then read some of Babitz’s own writing to see them in action. Possibly taking it a step further and trying my hand at a piece in the style of Babitz. We shall see.
I’ve been reading this book off and on for a while. The writing is amazing, but sometimes my brain is kind of foggy, so I have to set it aside until I can appreciate it. But I love how thoroughly she explores her topics in these essays. One of my favorites in this collection has been “Devil’s Bait,” which details a trip to Austin to attend/observe a conference for those afflicted with Morgellons.
This is another re-read. Sedaris is an inveterate diary keeper and he mines them for material in his collections. The first go around it was fun to see entries that were source material for published essays. On my re-read, I’m trying to really focus on his influences and any other useful notes I can glean. My mom purchased me an autographed copy for Christmas, so I was anxious to dive in.
I inhaled this book! She doles out plenty of writing advice, both general and specific to her process, which I loved. She talks about events in her life that have been major influences in her writing. She relates a lot of her experiences as a female poet that, as a female writer, were relatable or perhaps even cautionary. I cannot wait to read more of her work!
Speaking of! One of the gals in my writing group recommended this book. I immediately bought it. This one is craft-focused, whereas Bukowski in a Sundress was personal essays, and has loads of exercises. As such, I am consuming this one in sips. I don’t write poetry, but the exercises are easily transferable to prose writing. Yes, it might possibly inspire me to pick up some collections of poetry and maybe eventually even try my hand, we shall see. I love her approach and I have underlined so much of the text.
That’s what I’ve got so far.
Total Books Read 2021: 1
I set my Goodreads goal for 34 for this year. We shall see what happens.
Tell me in the comments below, what have you been reading lately?
If you decide to check out the books I mentioned, we hope you’ll do so via the Amazon affiliate links above. If you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!
Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA. Though she’s fallen off the wagon as a writer, she’s hoping to return to writing essays (perhaps even a novel!) through her involvement with DIY MFA. She is also Launch Manager for DIY MFA and a Book Coach. She resides in Smalltown, Oklahoma, with her husband and their cat, Joan Didion. You can follow her on Instagram at @LoriTheWriter.