Quote for the Day: December 2nd, 2021

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.

John Grogan, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

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Picture Book Review: Unicorn Day by Diana Murray (Words) and Luke Flowers (Pictures)

Unicorn Day by Diana Murray (Words) and Luke Flowers (Pictures)

Review

Note: I did not receive any compensation from either the publisher or the author(s) to read and review the book discussed below. As of the time of the writing of this review, I do not belong to any affiliate programs which compensate me for sales arising from links included on this page or on any page created and maintained by The Voracious Bibliophile. Links are provided as a courtesy to the author(s) to help them continue producing their works. I am not responsible for the content and/or claims contained on sites linked away from The Voracious Bibliophile and the inclusion of such links do not imply endorsement on my part.

Bright and rambunctious with clever wordplay to encourage kids and their adults to sing along, with Unicorn Day you can’t go wrong!

This book has some of the best illustrations I’ve ever seen in a picture book. Bright and rambunctious with clever wordplay to encourage kids and their adults to sing along, with Unicorn Day you can’t go wrong! You see what I mean? It’s infectious. Another thing I loved about this book is the way it encourages tolerance and acceptance of those who are different.

During the celebrations, a horse masquerading as a unicorn is discovered when their horn falls off, and the horse starts to leave in shame. It really tugs at your heartstrings, especially if you’ve ever been ostracized yourself. The unicorns, not wanting to lose a friend, help their new friend reattach their horn and the celebration continues, adding non-hooved friends along the way to celebrate everyone’s individuality and uniqueness. Unicorn Day is for everyone!

Would it be too much for me to sing along with the unicorns, proclaiming proudly, “I’m on the right track, baby, I was horn this way.”

Also, it did not escape my notice that one of the unicorns featured on the book’s cover has a rainbow horn that looks not-too-subtly like a Pride flag. Would it be too much for me to sing along with the unicorns, proclaiming proudly, “I’m on the right track, baby, I was horn this way.” You see what I did there?

Unicorn Day was published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in June 2019 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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our kitchen is barely big enough for one person to maneuver around in, let alone two, so every holiday some inevitable bickering always ensues.

Right now I am sitting in my living room looking out at the milky-gray overcast sky. I’ve got reruns playing in the background and I’m daydreaming about the turkey dinner I’ll be eating later today with all the fixings. I can hear my parents in our kitchen hoisting the turkey which so bravely sacrificed its life so that we might feast today into the oven. Our kitchen is barely big enough for one person to maneuver around in, let alone two, so every holiday some inevitable bickering always ensues. Perhaps it’s wrong of me, but I love relaxing on my behind while others toil near me.

I’m not going to lie, these past few weeks have been really difficult. I’ve spent a lot of time crying, screaming, tossing and turning at night, and questioning so many of the decisions which have brought me to this point in my life. Work has been an absolute nightmare, as retail work in any capacity usually is at this time of year, and my psychologist has been recalibrating my meds, so I’ve been a veritable basket case. I don’t know if “basket case” is a politically correct descriptor anymore and it’s certainly not a clinical term, but it’s what I’ve been nevertheless.

I’m comforting myself by constantly taking stock of what I have versus what I lack, and the balance is always in favor of what I have.

Today, all of the things I’ve been struggling with recently remain with me in the background. But something different is in the air today. I’m trying to live in the moment despite how difficult that is. I’m comforting myself by constantly taking stock of what I have versus what I lack, and the balance is always in favor of what I have. Right now, I have everything I need. Right now, I don’t have anywhere I need to be or anything urgent to accomplish. I am safe and warm. My bills are paid. I am with family and if only for today, I am choosing to allow everything else to be noise that I can turn all the way down to the point where it’s nothing but a low hum.

I hope that wherever you are and whoever you’re with that you’re able to press pause and take a deep breath, knowing that you have everything you need to carry you to the next moment.

I hope that wherever you are and whoever you’re with that you’re able to press pause and take a deep breath, knowing that you have everything you need to carry you to the next moment. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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: November 25th, 2021

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

© 1995 Naomi Shihab Nye. “Kindness” originally appeared as part of Nye’s collection Words Under the Words: Selected Poems, which was published by Eighth Mountain Press in 1995.

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: November 23rd, 2021

Self-Compassion by James Crews

My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes,
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

© 2021 James Crews. “Self-Compassion” was originally published by the Academy of American Poets for their Poem-a-Day series on November 17th, 2021. Crews is the editor of the forthcoming collection The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy, which is due to be released in April 2022 by Storey Publishing 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: November 20th, 2021

The Joy Luck Club: A Novel by Amy Tan

But she never looked back with regret. There were so many ways for things to get better.

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club: A Novel

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: November 16th, 2021

The Woman in Red (1935); directed by Robert Florey

I’d like to find one of those authors who write about how wonderful it is to be in love. I’d shoot ‘em just for the fun of it.

The Woman in Red (1935); directed by Robert Florey

I think it’s safe to say that Barbara Stanwyck had some of the sauciest lines in cinematic history and while The Woman in Red is lesser-known among the films she starred in during her long career, it is a gem well worth watching. If you haven’t seen it yet and choose to, do yourself a favor and keep a pen and notebook nearby to save some of the barbs to use the next time someone pisses you off.

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: November 14th, 2021

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.

Alice Walker

You know how sometimes you come across a quote or a line in a book while you’re reading or even hear a lyric in a song on the radio while you’re on your way to work and it’s like the stars align? You feel like the universe sent you those words because it knew you’d need them at that precise moment.

You feel like the universe sent you those words because it knew you’d need them at that precise moment.

Well, that’s how I felt when I first came across today’s quote. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a failure because I can’t be normal despite my best efforts. My therapist and I can’t quite find the right configuration of meds to make me not be a basket case all the time. None of my clothes fit and I’m continuing to gain weight despite all my work to curb that. The only clothes I have that fit me at the moment (aside from underwear and socks) are like three pairs of pants and my branded company shirts I wear to work.

It does, however, make me want to cry and scream and curse every time I go into my closet to try to find something to wear and find that clothes which were loose on me just six months ago are now so tight I can’t breathe in them.

Now, don’t misread me. I do not have a problem, aesthetically speaking, with being a fat person. I don’t think I’m disgusting and I’m not ashamed of the shape of my body. It does, however, make me want to cry and scream and curse every time I go into my closet to try to find something to wear and find that clothes which were loose on me just six months ago are now so tight I can’t breathe in them.

Now, I’ve not made a huge Facebook announcement coming out as gay or anything, but pretty much everyone that’s important to me knows.

Also, and I didn’t think I was going to say this here, but I’ve been really struggling with feeling like I’m accepted by certain members of my family. Now, I’ve not made a huge Facebook announcement coming out as gay or anything, but pretty much everyone that’s important to me knows. I’m out to all of my employees and I’m blessed to work for a company that’s extremely queer-friendly. All of my friends know and it’s probably been more than five years since I first came out to my parents.

Life doesn’t always allow us to be the most authentic version of ourselves with all people at all times.

But as Taylor Swift once sang in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, therein lies the issue. I never imagined being out in the first place so when I came out I wanted to be out out. Like drag show out. But here’s a hard truth: Life doesn’t always allow us to be the most authentic version of ourselves with all people at all times. So ever since I first came out to them I’ve been somewhat of a Hokey Pokey Homo: You put your right foot in (the closet), you put your right foot out (of the closet), you put your right foot (back) in (the closet, because you’re acting far too gay to be palatable to everyone), and you shake it all about (to “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga like the sad queer you are). I bought a purse a month or so ago that was super cute and it was on sale so why wouldn’t I buy it? and I thought my dad was going to have a stroke. To his credit, he didn’t say anything negative to me but I could still tell it made him uncomfortable.

That’s right, I’m contorted, bent in weird ways, and I’m still beautiful. And so are you. Make the world reckon with you on your terms.

So, if you’re still with me here: (A) depressed and anxious; (B) fat; and (C) super duper gay. And I’m going to add another one: (D) PERFECT. That’s right, I’m contorted, bent in weird ways, and I’m still beautiful. And so are you. Make the world reckon with you on your terms.

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: November 12th, 2021

This Room and Everything in It by Li-Young Lee

Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,
certain hard days ahead,
when I’ll need what I know so clearly this moment.

I am making use
of the one thing I learned
of all the things my father tried to teach me:
the art of memory.

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I’ll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I’ll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.
The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can’t see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I’ll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
Now I’ve forgotten my
idea. The book
on the windowsill, riffled by wind . . .
the even-numbered pages are
the past, the odd-
numbered pages, the future.
The sun is
God, your body is milk . . .

useless, useless . . .
your cries are song, my body’s not me . . .
no good . . . my idea
has evaporated . . . your hair is time, your thighs are song . . .
it had something to do
with death . . . it had something
to do with love.

© 1990 Li-Young Lee. “This Room and Everything in It” first appeared in Lee’s collection The City in Which I Love You, which was published by BOA Editions Ltd. in 1990.

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: November 11th, 2021

The End of a Beautiful Era by Joseph Brodsky

Since the stern art of poetry calls for words, I, morose,
deaf, and balding ambassador of a more or less
insignificant nation that’s stuck in this super
power, wishing to spare my old brain,
hand myself my own topcoat and head for the main
street: to purchase the evening paper.

Wind disperses the foliage. The dimness of old bulbs in these
sorry quarters, whose motto’s “The mirror will please,”
gives a sense of abundance supported by puddles.
Even thieves here steal apples by scratching the amalgam first.
Yet the feeling one gets, from one’s own sweet reflection—this feeling I’ve lost.
That’s what really puzzles.

Everything in these parts is geared for winter: long dreams,
prison walls, overcoats, bridal dresses of whiteness that seems
snowlike. Drinks. Kinds of soap matching dirt in dark corners.
Sparrow vests, second hand of the watch round your wrist,
puritanical mores, underwear. And, tucked in the violinists’
palms, old redwood hand warmers.

This whole realm is just static. Imagining the output of lead
and cast iron, and shaking your stupefied head,
you recall bayonets, Cossack whips of old power.
Yet the eagles land like good lodestones on the scraps.
Even wicker chairs here are built mostly with bolts and with nuts,
one is bound to discover.

Only fish in the sea seem to know freedom’s price.
Still, their muteness compels us to sit and devise
cashier booths of our own. And space rises like some bill of fare.
Time’s invented by death. In its search for the objects, it deals
with raw vegetables first That’s why cocks are so keen on the bells
chiming deafly somewhere.

To exist in the Era of Deeds and to stay elevated, alert
ain’t so easy, alas. Having raised a long skirt,
you will find not new wonders but what you expected.
And it’s not that they play Lobachevsky’s ideas by ear,
but the widened horizons should narrow somewhere, and here—
here’s the end of perspective.

Either old Europe’s map has been swiped by the gents in plain clothes,
or the famous five-sixths of remaining landmass has just lost
its poor infamous colleague, or a fairy casts spells over shabby
me, who knows—but I cannot escape from this place;
I pour wine for myself (service here’s a disgrace),
sip, and rub my old tabby.

Thus the brain earned a slug, as a spot where an error occurred
earns a good pointing finger. Or should I hit waterways, sort
of like Christ? Anyway, in these laudable quarters,
eyes dumbfounded by ice and by booze
will reproach you alike for whatever you choose:
traceless rails, traceless waters.

Now let’s see what they say in the papers about lawsuits.
“The condemned has been dealt with.” Having read this, a denizen puts
on his metal-rimmed glasses that help to relate it
to a man lying flat, his face down, by the wall;
though he isn’t asleep. Since dreams spurn a skull
that has been perforated.

The keen-sightedness of our era takes root in the times
which were short, in their blindness, of drawing clear lines
twixt those fallen from cradles and fallen from saddles.
Though there are plenty of saucers, there is no one to turn tables with
to subject you, poor Rurik, to a sensible quiz;
that’s what really saddens.

The keen-sightedness of our days is the sort that befits the dead end
whose concrete begs for spittle and not for a witty comment.
Wake up a dinosaur, not a prince, to recite you the moral!
Birds have feathers for penning last words, though it’s better to ask.
All the innocent head has in store for itself is an ax
plus the evergreen laurel.

[December] 1969
Leningrad

© 2000 The Estate of Joseph Brodsky. “The End of a Beautiful Era” is taken from Collected Poems in English, 1972-1999, which was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2000. Brodsky was the recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature and was appointed the United States Poet Laureate in 1991.

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.