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Author Andrew Solomon’s Ten Favorite Reads Includes Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Sandburg

By Harriet Staff


The author and frequent New Yorker and New York Times correspondent Andrew Solomon is featured in One Grand’s column “My 10 Favorite Books” this week. His picks? Elizabeth Bishop (“I would love to think that I’ve ever thought anything as clearly as Bishop has thought each of her poems.”) mixed with a dash of Freud, James, and Sandburg. More:

“Middlemarch,” George Eliot

This book has the virtue of being the most perfect novel ever written. It manages to blend the miniature world of an uninteresting town with a profound reckoning with the human heart in all its vagaries. Here we find courage, pettiness, self-deception, love, profundity, triviality, sadness, joy, munificence, greed, theatricality, restraint, wit, pomposity, despair, hope. It’s seductively readable, free of pretension and written with a rare cleareyed kindness.

“The Complete Poems,” Elizabeth Bishop

A life’s work may occupy shelf upon shelf, or all the genius may be distilled down to a concentrate of wisdom, and I would love to think that I’ve ever thought anything as clearly as Bishop has thought each of her poems. My favorite lines forever:

“It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:

dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,

drawn from the cold hard mouth

of the world, derived from the rocky breasts

forever, flowing and drawn, and since

our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.”

“Random Family,” Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

There has been no finer nonfiction written in the last century than this penetrating examination not only of a particular family and its travails (written with the complex plot of a Tolstoy novel), but also of the ways in which our society is broken, of a system that congratulates itself as democracy and yet is intractably inequitable. This book has no agenda and makes no argument; it simply reveals the truth of the country in which we live, and allows us to formulate our own call to action.

Learn more about Solomon’s reading list at New York Times.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, August 8th, 2016 by Harriet Staff.