Poem for the Day: January 27th, 2022

American Deathbed by Jiarong Zhang

is boneboat. We make teeth 

from pennies for our American

toothfairy. We hide them under our

pillow next to our nectarine

acetaminophen. Dali mouths

opening to other mouths

form this neck of history.

I’m sucking my pregnancy

test like a popsicle. I’m

breastfeeding the sea.

You’re in bed with

your video game girlfriend

except it’s you on the screen,

you’re playing in the first person

your lips are kissing your feet.

You’re smoking a cigarette

in the deportees club.

You’re sitting on the toilet

beside your female-gendered

tub. I’m watching an old

woman crawl up the hill

of the city. I’m baptizing

myself in the acidachelake.

The sun is throbbing

into my throat. For who.

For who. I’m scalpel

-ing an ebony. You’re Fishhawk

Midnight. My naked legs

bent into the Geese

-Shaped V. Before we sleep,

you look out the window

to see what’s left of me. Out there,

beyond the American Deathbed,

you tell me there are lesions of

kindness. There are birds

jeweling our sleeps. There

are hyacinths, just purring.

I want my mother to see.

On the moon, you say

look closely to see

a child’s TV

playing infinitely on loop,

just purring with gravity.

I want the old song to play

of my father snoring in his

sleep. Mother yelling at me to

leave. In this twilight,

even anger is so pretty.

Live for me.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

I love how playful Zhang is with language in this poem. From the lesions of kindness to the hyacinths, just purring, every image Zhang conjures is haunting in its specificity while abstract in its execution. In the background of it all is an undercurrent of electricity waiting to zap the attentive reader. American Deathbed is one of those poems you can’t read just once, and the reader willing to give it the time and attention it deserves will not regret the decision.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: January 27th, 2022

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Human beings need loyalty. It does not necessarily produce happiness, and can even be painful, but we all require devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable.

Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: January 26th, 2022

Fresco by Richie Hofmann

I have come again to the perfumed city.
Houses with tiered porches, some decorated with shells.
You know from the windows that the houses
are from a different time. I am not
to blame for what changes, though sometimes
I have trouble sleeping.
Between the carriage houses,
there are little gardens separated by gates.
Lately, I have been thinking about the gates.
The one ornamented with the brass lion, I remember
it was warm to the touch
even in what passes here for winter.
But last night, when I closed my eyes,
it was not the lion that I pictured first.

© 2012 Richie Hofmann. Today’s poem is taken from the November 2012 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Richie Hofmann teaches poetry at Stanford University. His first collection of poetry, Second Empire, was published by Alice James Books in 2015. His forthcoming collection of poetry, A Hundred Lovers, is due to be released by Knopf on February 8th, 2022. His work appears elsewhere in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The Yale Review. You can read more about him and his work on his website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: January 26th, 2022

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese (Foreword)

Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still, it is never complete.

Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: I’ll Take Care of You by Maria Loretta Giraldo (Author), Nicoletta Bertelle (Illustrator), and Johanna McCalmont (Translator)

I’ll Take Care of You by Maria Loretta Giraldo (Author), Nicoletta Bertelle (Illustrator), and Johanna McCalmont (Translator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Blue Dot Kids Press in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions I’ll Take Care of You, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

This beautiful picture book introduces children to the interconnectedness of nature with a single refrain repeated throughout: “I’ll take care of you.”

This beautiful picture book introduces children to the interconnectedness of nature with a single refrain repeated throughout: “I’ll take care of you.” So says the Earth, the Water, and the Sky to the scared little seed that grows into a strong apple tree. So says the selfsame tree to the blackcap bird who takes shelter in its branches. So says the blackcap bird to her tender hatchling, whom she loves, nourishes, and teaches to fly. So says the blackcap bird to the seed that falls among stones once the apple tree sheds its blossoms and its fruit. The little bird watches over the seed which she entrusts to the Earth’s tender care. She sings to it and hopes for it until one day, a shoot breaks forth and the cycle begins once again.

I’ll Take Care of You is ideal for daycare, preschool, and local Story Time groups, who can reinforce the concepts introduced in the book by performing acts of care for one another and others in their community.

Thus the gift of care is shared and magnified among all of nature and her children in I’ll Take Care of You, and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this simple yet powerful tale. Nicoletta Bertelle’s warm and vibrant illustrations reinforce the themes of community and ecological harmony found in Maria Loretta Giraldo’s text, gorgeously translated from the Italian by Johanna McCalmont. I’ll Take Care of You is ideal for daycare, preschool, and local Story Time groups, who can reinforce the concepts introduced in the book by performing acts of care for one another and others in their community.

I’ll Take Care of You is due to be published by Blue Dot Kids Press on April 12th, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: January 25th, 2022

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey (Foreword)

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: January 24th, 2022

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, Ph.D., MSW

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., MSW, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Today’s quote is especially meaningful to me because I, like so many millions of people all over the country and around the world right now, am stuck in quarantine. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I tested positive for COVID-19 on January 15th. Since then, both of my parents have tested positive as well. I’m grateful to be able to have the time off work to recuperate and to have subordinates who can do the work while I’m not able to, but it’s also put a great deal of financial stress on me and my family because my job doesn’t offer paid sick leave and I have bills to pay and groceries to buy. I’m also extremely grateful that while all three of us are a little the worse for wear, we’re all vaccinated and able to ride out the storm together, at home.

I’m grateful to be able to have the time off work to recuperate and to have subordinates who can do the work while I’m not able to, but it’s also put a great deal of financial stress on me and my family because my job doesn’t offer paid sick leave and I have bills to pay and groceries to buy.

It would be nice if, instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on defense, the United States would invest more in social infrastructure, on programs that would lift people out of poverty and help them during times of crisis (like, say, a global pandemic). If we’re being honest, the pandemic would already be over (or at the very least would be more manageable) if we could have been paid to stay home while the government built up our healthcare infrastructure and shored up basic social services. It is easy to tell what a society values by what it spends its money on, and by who is authorized to make decisions for the rest of us.

It is easy to tell what a society values by what it spends its money on, and by who is authorized to make decisions for the rest of us.

Instead, we are now in our third year of the pandemic and our government cannot (or will not) even provide clear guidance on testing, quarantining, or living with the after-effects on infection. Instead, we’re thrown bones. We got a measly stimulus payment in March of last year that for most Americans didn’t cover (or barely covered) a month’s rent, and now the government has announced that it will mail out four COVID-19 tests to each household. That’s great, but not for multi-generation or multi-family households which are most likely to be BIPOC. So, just so we’re clear: $1,400 and four tests to be split up among however many people live in your household.

I’m reminded of a scene in Michael Bay’s 1998 doomsday science fiction film Armageddon, where deep-core oil driller Harry Stamper (played by Bruce Willis) is commissioned by NASA to help prevent an asteroid the size of Texas from colliding with Earth. He’s talking with NASA executive Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) about NASA’s contingency plan should something go wrong:

Harry Stamper: What’s your contingency plan?
Truman: Contingency plan?
Harry: Your backup plan. You gotta have some kind of backup plan, right?
Truman: No, we don’t have a back up plan, this is, uh…
Harry: And this is the best that you-that the government, the U.S. government could come up with? I mean, you’re NASA for crying out loud, you put a man on the moon, you’re geniuses! You’re the guys that’re thinking shit up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up! You’re telling me you don’t have a backup plan, that these eight boy scouts right here [gestures to USAF pilots], that is the world’s hope, that’s what you’re telling me?
Truman: Yeah.

We are all Bruce Willis right now shaking our discombobulated heads at the government.

We are all Bruce Willis right now shaking our discombobulated heads at the government. I mean, not to get on my soap box or anything, but what are they truly doing to help us right now? They won’t pass voting rights legislation. They won’t protect a woman’s right to choose from draconian state houses just waiting for Roe v Wade to be overturned (or weakened beyond repair), and they won’t help their most vulnerable citizens through the most dire public health crisis of our time. What are they willing to do? A concerned (and sick) citizen would like to know.

What are they willing to do? A concerned (and sick) citizen would like to know.

Despite all of this, I know that living through COVID-19 has made me a stronger person. It’s also made me grateful to be as privileged as I am with relatively good health and people who love me and can take care of me when I’m sick. I know that my life could have looked very different had just one or two things been shifted by a measure of a couple degrees. I hope that this is over soon. I am tired of people getting sick and dying, of getting sick and staying that way, of losing their jobs and their homes and their loved ones, of an indifferent government ran by charlatans, of a night that refuses to end. But still I rise.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy D. Snyder (Author) and Nora Krug (Illustrator)

On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy D. Snyder (Author) and Nora Krug (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

When On Tyranny first came out in 2017…I called it the “most powerful and timely book we’ve got right now,” and I stand by that assessment.

When On Tyranny first came out in 2017, I remember reading it in my bathtub, absolutely riveted and completely terrified. I remained that way, completely terrified that is, through the remainder of Trump’s presidency up until the present day. In the short review I posted on Goodreads at the time, I called it the “most powerful and timely book we’ve got right now,” and I stand by that assessment. In it, Snyder presented us with a model of political rectitude, elucidating the present by drawing parallels from the past in the hope that we might steer ourselves toward a more just and equitable future.

Democracy does not offer roadside assistance.

To return to my terror, I suppose Snyder himself would say that an alert citizen is a good citizen, but only if that citizen is proactive rather than reactive. Like most forms of social good, democracy does not self-correct when it encounters flaws in the mechanism. The people in charge of its maintenance, which is all of us, have to pull over on the side of the road, lift up the hood, and put in a little elbow grease to fix it. To further labor the metaphor: Democracy does not offer roadside assistance.

To lessen our chances of breaking down in the first place, however, it’s important to practice good citizenship at all times, not just in times of crisis. We should advocate for the causes important to us all the time, not just during an election year. We should lobby our legislators to pass laws that strengthen our democracy, that protect human rights. We should make calls, donate when and where we can, and show up to participate with our bodies every chance we get.

I have done my best to be a proactive citizen and I’d like to think that my efforts helped us to avoid another four years of Trump, at least for the moment. I’m holding my breath thinking that putrid orange tyrant will try to run again in the next presidential election. If he does, and heaven forbid, wins, God have mercy on us all.

On my not-so-good days, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we were doomed beyond saving, but I don’t like to back down from a fight. It’s not good for your digestion.

The good news is I’m not that much of a cynic yet. On my not-so-good days, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we were doomed beyond saving, but I don’t like to back down from a fight. It’s not good for your digestion. Actually, I’m not sure what pugnacity does for your digestion, but I’ve always found it winsome to follow the revealing of a questionable character trait with something ameliorative to make myself more palatable.

Timothy Snyder is not only a historian of the highest echelon, but a prescient prognosticator of our possible political futures.

I was so excited when I found out that a graphic edition of Snyder’s book was being released and having now read it, I can assuredly say it did not disappoint. Timothy Snyder is not only a historian of the highest echelon, but a prescient prognosticator of our possible political futures. I intentionally used futures, plural, because our course is not set. We the people, the body politic, are the cartographers drawing the map toward our future. What the future looks like is based on the collective decisions we make today to either defend or neglect democracy. Don’t let’s make it easy for the tyrants, orange or otherwise.

We the people, the body politic, are the cartographers drawing the map toward our future. What the future looks like is based on the collective decisions we make today to either defend or neglect democracy.

Nora Krug’s illustrations are sometimes macabre and at other times breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes they are both in equal measure. All of her illustrations are elegant in their simplicity and deftly executed on the page. Her inclusion of historical photographs, many of which were found in photo albums and other ephemera at flea markets and antique shops, add depth and pictorial veracity to Snyder’s narrative of the history of tyranny in the twentieth century.

Nora Krug’s illustrations are sometimes macabre and at other times breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes they are both in equal measure.

Although a review is not and should not necessarily be a summary of a work, I’d like to include here the twenty lessons Snyder gives in his book, if for no other reason than to pique the interest of would-be readers.

Snyder’s Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend institutions.
  3. Beware the one-party state.
  4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  5. Remember professional ethics.
  6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
  7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  8. Stand out.
  9. Be kind to our language.
  10. Believe in truth.
  11. Investigate.
  12. Make eye contact and small talk.
  13. Practice corporeal politics.
  14. Establish a private life.
  15. Contribute to good causes.
  16. Learn from peers in other countries.
  17. Listen for dangerous words.
  18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  19. Be a patriot.
  20. Be as courageous as you can.

© 2017, 2021 Timothy Snyder. All rights reserved.

On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century was released by Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press on October 5th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: January 23rd, 2022

The Alchemist (25th Anniversary Edition) by Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist (25th Anniversary Edition)

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo (Author) and Brittany E. Lakin (Illustrator)

Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo (Author) and Brittany E. Lakin (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Magination Press, the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Blossom and Bud, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Mr. Baxter’s flower shop is full of gorgeous flowers of every imaginable shape, length, and hue, giving Blossom and Bud plenty of opportunities for negative self-comparison.

Blossom and Bud begins in Mr. Baxter’s flower shop. Blossom is a long-stemmed sunflower ashamed of her height and Bud is just that—a bud—who hasn’t blossomed yet and feels self-conscious about it. Mr. Baxter’s flower shop is full of gorgeous flowers of every imaginable shape, length, and hue, giving Blossom and Bud plenty of opportunities for negative self-comparison. The other flowers, which remind one of the Technicolor hecklers in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, tease the two about their insecurities relentlessly.

What Blossom and Bud learn is that everyone, no matter their size or composition, has a place and a purpose unique to them and them alone.

At the end of the long day, Mr. Baxter goes home to rest up for what will be a big project starting the next morning. What our heroes don’t realize is that they will be central to this project. Mr. Baxter arrives in a joyful mood of rapturous anticipation, for a wedding is afoot! He pulls out a list of different flowers he needs, and there are two in particular that are especially important. He needs a long-stemmed flower to be the center of the bride’s bouquet and a bud (our Bud) to be the groom’s boutonnière. What Blossom and Bud learn is that everyone, no matter their size or composition, has a place and a purpose unique to them and them alone.

Dr. Sileo’s lovely tale, beautifully illustrated by Brittany E. Lakin, is sure to delight and inspire children of all ages to accept themselves for who and what they are, and to celebrate their differences with pride.

Blossom and Bud was released by Magination Press, the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association, on April 13th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Dr. Frank J. Sileo, PhD, is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement, LLC in Ridgewood, New Jersey. In addition to Blossom and Bud, Dr. Sileo is the author of twelve other books, eleven of which are children’s picture books exploring topics related to children’s growth and development. You can read more about him and his work on his website.

Brittany E. Lakin is an award-winning children’s illustrator based in the United Kingdom. She is represented by Plum Pudding Illustration and has done work for Firefly Press, Magination Press, and Worthy Kids, among others. You can read more about her and her work on her website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.