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The Mirror & the Light

The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #3)The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mantel is a marvelously good writer and this trilogy has been a wonderful read.

My only criticism of this third volume is that there is too much in it, particularly in the beginning. I felt it either needed much more serious editing or (and this is the better option I think) it should have been two books itself, which I think could have easily been done.

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Incarnadine: PoemsIncarnadine: Poems by Mary Szybist
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

"What taste the bright world has . . . And for this, I did nothing, not even wonder."

Despite a few exceptions, most of these poems did not resonate with me. They seemed high concept in a way that I just didn't connect with. There were a few a liked and a few lines and phrases here and there. The quote above comes from "Here, There are Blueberries" which also contains these lines relevant to our current situation "You must live for something, they say, People don't live just to keep on living."

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The Religious Affections

The Religious AffectionsThe Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"God's nature or divinity is infinitely excellent; yea it is infinite beauty, brightness, and glory itself."

I'd read parts of The Religious Affections, particularly the good Part 1, before and had been looking forward to this spring reading the entire book. But it is really not the type of writing I can focus well on at the moment, so about 160 pages in, I'm abandoning it for now.

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Finally Comes the Poet

Finally Comes the PoetFinally Comes the Poet by Walter Brueggemann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A powerful and vivid description of the art of preaching. With interesting comments on the task of listening, engaging in conversation, and building communion. His unpacking of a few biblical stories is quite good, but then he is the greatest living commentator on the Old Testament.

This book was a gift from a retired minister whose newborn granddaughter's funeral I did this winter.

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Hagar Poems

Hagar PoemsHagar Poems by Mohja Kahf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"to stand alone at this frontier:
where the shape of the cup of morning is strange
and dome of sky, mat of earth have shifted,
where God does not have a house yet
and the times for prayer have not been appointed."

A magnificent collection of poems. The first section written about the Hagar story from the perspectives of Hagar and Sarah and modern day Hagars and Sarahs. And then a collection of poems about or from the perspectives of prominent women in the Muslim tradition. All bringing to light particularly feminine concerns.

"I used to carry around a little mosque
in the chambers of my heart
but it closed indefinitely pending
extensive structural repairs."

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C. P. Cavafy: Selected Poems

Selected PoemsSelected Poems by Constantinos P. Cavafy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I have gazed so much on beauty
that my eyes overflow with it."

I enjoyed Cavafy far more than I anticipated, and I expected to like him.

This book is organized chronologically, and I admired the early poems the best. Almost every one of the early ones I marked or annotated in some way for a great phrase, image, or impactful totality.

All of the poems are well-executed and fall along a couple of themes--glorying in the long, rich history of the Greeks and celebrating male beauty. Of course I delighted in the latter poems. Sub-themes include aging and memory and the contrast between Christian and pagan in Greek culture.

I believe this is a volume I will return to and cherish.

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Ghazals of Ghalib

Ghazals of GhalibGhazals of Ghalib by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My friend Kristen called this book "poetry-nerd crack." Indeed. This isn't rich poetry, but quick aphorisms that either bite or not. From profound sober wisdom such as "The fact of death is always in sight; it's shared by all this world's scattered pieces" to funny observations like "when you're in a bar, you can't stay too intelligent."

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