Friday, July 23, 2021

Poetry Friday: "Books" by Billy Collins

I'm in the middle of a buddy read. Well, to be more precise, I'm a third of the way into a buddy read. My daughters and I are reading this trilogy (a reread for three of us, a new read for Ramona): 

Ramona has never read this series. What?? 

But she decided this was the summer to dive in. So Anne-with-an-e, Betsy, and I decided to jump in and reread them, too. Not that we need an incentive to stay in close to touch with the now-married-and-living-elsewhere Betsy, but we all decided that buddy reads would be a fun aspect of our in-touch-staying. And we're just about ready for our discussion of the first book. I can't wait! 

The Hunger Games series has a long history in our house. Some of my thoughts on the entire series are here

Ramona here, dictating to Betsy:

I personally have never read The Hunger Games, but, I don't want to have anything to do with it. At all. Whatsoever. Because I do not want to have anything to do with it, I very much loathe Karen Edmisten. So I say farewell to all of you, and I love you very much.

Dramatization. I really actually love Karen Edmisten.

Obviously, she was not allowed to read them at that age, so she greatly disliked how much everyone else was talking about them. I can't blame her for feeling like she wasn't part of the club. But now, she's in the club. She's almost finished with the first book and can't wait to get to Catching Fire. And I can't wait to have all sorts of rich discussion again. 

As Stephen King said, "Books are a uniquely portable magic." 

Billy Collins captures the magic, too, in his practically-perfect-in-every-way poem, "Books." 

by Billy Collins 

From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the library humming in the night, 
an immense choir of authors muttering inside their books 

(Read the whole thing here, at the Poetry Foundation.) 



penelope said...

Ooo! Have fun with the family Hunger Games read!! My now 19yo read them for the first time last year (a good year for it). (Have you read Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and what do you think of it? {we quite liked it — very dark, tho, of course}).

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I love that your family is continuing to read together even after Betsy is married. This in my mind is the foremost homeschooling goal: to continue to read with my kids and talk about books even after they've flown the nest.

This morning we sat around chatting for a bit before my scouts took off for a weekend camping trip. We were talking about Star Wars Clone Wars series, which I'm finally watching, much to the delight of my children; but into our conversation came Lord of the Rings and The Warmth of Other Suns and Enders Game and the Vietnam War and the Revolutionary War and a bunch of other books. It's such a delight to have these big conversations about books and life. And and the end as they were gathering themselves to go, 15 year old Bella sighed contentedly and said the conversation was just what she'd hoped for when they'd watched the episode.

Karen Edmisten said...

Penelope, I agree that 18 is a great age to read and discuss these books! I haven't read Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes yet, but I'm hoping we can all cram that one in when we finish the trilogy. I think my oldest daughter has already read it though. I'll keep you posted. :)

Melanie, that story made me smile and tear up. That's what it's all about. Love the way all those connections happen in the midst of small-turned-big discussions. Thanks for sharing that.

Karen Eastlund said...

Thanks for this post, the link to Billy Collins and to your discussion of the Hunger Games. I have not read them but I know my daughter-in-law has, and probably my oldest grands. So now I have some inkling about them, and I agree that it is good to have these conversations. Thanks again.

Margaret Simon said...

In all honesty, I could not read all three of these books. Fantasy is not my favorite genre and dystopian falls below fantasy, but the Billy Collins poem says it all when he writes "reading ourselves away from ourselves." And reading alongside others in your family is such a great bonding experience.

KatApel - said...

Dare I admit that I have never read The Hunger Games? For reasons that Margaret has given. But I also agree about reading alongside others in your family - and some of my most cherished memories (and frequently referred to) are shared literary discussions with my boys. So - enjoy!

Alan j Wright said...

Karen, like some of the others I confess I have not read The Hunger Games...
Like Margaret, fantasy and dystopian genres are not my immediate go-to genres.However, I just took receipt of another Billy Collins book this very week- 'Nine Horses.' I love it so much I want to record my readings of these poems for my wife to listen to. Hopefully she will appreciate this little gift. Love 'Books.'

Mary Lee said...

What fun that Betsy is now a part of the family Hunger Games club! (I wonder if I can convince my brother to be a book club of two with me...) And add to all that, Billy Collins. There are so many lines in that poem that I want to memorize. I think I'll copy it into my notebook. Thank you!

Karen Edmisten said...

Karen, Margaret, Kat, and Alan, I totally understand not being into fantasy and dystopian genres! They're not my immediate go-to genres either. I would probably not have read these books if my girls hadn't expressed an interest. Between homeschooling (and we were the kind of homeschool in which "talking about stuff" was a huge part of our curriculum) and just wanting to know what my kiddos were consuming, I ended up reading loads of stuff that I may never have otherwise picked up. Sometimes I loved the experience, sometimes I thought, "No more of that for me." :)

This series isn't a "must-read" for everyone, but they sure made for some fantastic discussion with my teens. The books became part of the family lexicon, albeit without Ramona. Then she finally expressed interest this summer and the rest of us wanted to dive into some book talk with her, so we're rereading. :)

We're definitely all on the same page here about Billy Collins. He's sublime. :)

Alan, what a marvelous idea to record poems from NINE HORSES for your wife! That's a beautiful gift.

Karen Edmisten said...

Mary Lee, yes, you should totally convince your brother to be in a book club of two! I have a friend with whom I sometimes do buddy reads. It's totally informal — we just check in with each other now and then and say, "Should we both read this one?" It mainly happens in the summer, but it happens organically at other times of the year and grows out of recommending books to each other or simply sharing what we're reading. One of us mentions a book and the other says, "I'll read that next and then we can talk about it!" :)

Denise Krebs said...

Karen, this is so precious! I love the idea of your daughter waking you to discuss the book at 2:30 a.m. So awesome! I don't think I would have been quite as willing, but I did go to a lot of midnight premiere movies of Harry Potter books with my daughters before they could drive themselves.

I hope everyone has a great discussion!

Tabatha said...

Ha ha, Karen, you reminded me of this: I, too, love that you discussed it with Betsy at 2:30am (& that Alan is recording Billy Collins poems for his wife!). One time, four of us read Persuasion by Jane Austen, which was delightful.

Karen Edmisten said...

Denise, the older I get the fewer 2 a.m. book talks there are. :D We did some midnight movies, too, in the HP days. Such fun! But not sure I'd be able to stay up for them these days. :)

Tabatha, I remember that! (Riveting!) Love that photo of you guys lined up with the books!

tanita✿davis said...

Cracking up at Ramona, years later.
I just really hated being left out of anything my sisters were doing either, and I LOVE that someone is just putting a toe into the big, deep philosophical questions that book poses. What fun!!

Karen Edmisten said...

Tanita! I thought I had already responded to this. I've got to stop responding to people in my mind and thinking it's reality.

Yes, no one could blame her, right? It's not fun to be left out of all the big conversations. You were the Ramona of your day. :)