Snuggle up with a blanket and a good drink because the time has come. On Monday, May 7, the UNG Press is launching its very own reading challenge! This reading challenge consists of 52 book prompts; one book for every week of the year. Instead of assigning specific titles, the prompts are open-ended, so you get to choose what book you want to read.
We have prompts celebrating summer, the back-to-school season, and holidays, like the Fourth of July and Halloween. This challenge allows you to read whatever you’d like at your own pace. It’s all fair game.
Think you’re up for the challenge? Come back on May 7 for the full list of prompts. Tweet us at @TheUNGPress using the hashtag #YearoftheBooks to share your progress. We can’t wait to see what books you’re reading!
The Crowdsourced Poetry Project is under way! We have three lines so far and are excited to see more contributions to our sestina. Go to our Facebook page to submit your contribution for the next line. Our poem so far:
I began to ask myself the questions
With answers hanging in the air
What is here is noise, above which we can hear
For those of you who don’t already know, the Press is doing an experiment in creativity where we are hoping to harness the wisdom and imagination of the public to create a stunning poem. We have chosen to use the sestina for our form, mostly because it requires no rhyming or syllable counting, making it more accessible to contributors, while its use of repeated end-words gives it just enough complexity and structure so that it won’t spin off into a wild dervish. A sestina is a poem of six stanzas that are each six lines long and then a final, three line envoi. The stanzas all end with the same six words as the first stanza, though in a very specific order. In “Sestina: Altaforte” Ezra Pound uses these words at the ends of the first six lines: peace, music, clash, opposing, crimson, and rejoicing. According to the form they reappear in the second stanza in a new order as: rejoicing, peace, crimson, music, opposing, and clash, and so on throughout the next four stanzas. The repetition of these words both allows and forces the writer to use them in new ways and with new meaning imbued each time, creating a rich tapestry of language where the pattern continues to reveal itself throughout. Please join us in our quest to crowdsource a poem; the results are sure to be interesting and possibly very beautiful indeed.
For me, summer is a time to let my brain completely relax, meaning no tough, educational, or enlightening books. I like easy-to-read, relaxing stories that take me away from the boredom and heat of the summer. These are just a few I’ve chosen for this summer’s fun reading list.
1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Yes. Yes I do enjoy reading Young Adult and Teen novels. The Mortal Instruments series was suggested by a friend, and I finally broke down and bought the first one after staring at it on several trips down the puny selection of books at our local Wal-Mart. And it was totally worth it. You get thrown into the world of demon-hunting right from the get-go. Clary, 15, and her friend Simon go to a teen club where Clary sees some pretty unusual-looking people that Simon can’t see. Clary follows them, and discovers the world of the Shadow Hunters, with the handsome Jace being the ringleader for the group of teens. From there, the reader is taken on a fast-paced adventure that doesn’t stop when the book does, meaning now I have to go out and buy the rest of the series. I would say “Curse you, Cassandra!” but I’m kinda more than a little okay with buying the rest of the series. As soon as my college-student bank account allows me to.
2. Me: Stories of my Lifeby Katharine Hepburn
As much as I love to indulge in the guilty pleasure of teen fantasy, I realize that sometimes it’s good to get back into the “real world.” For me, that means old movies. Okay, so that’s not really the real world, but I do love everything about old Hollywood, and love reading the autobiographies of the stars that lived the life. I bought Kate’s autobiography at a discount bookstore to take on spring break last year, which I did, but somehow it found its way to the back of a bookshelf containing To Be Read books, and as they continue to pile up, Kate gets farther and farther to the back of the pile, and therefore has yet to be read. So I intend to read it this summer. In Me, Kate shares with us just a small piece of her life, and how she became Katharine Hepburn, a woman who defied tradition, got blacklisted, and ended up one of the biggest names in Hollywood history.
3. Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy
Because every girl enjoys a little romance. Set right after the civil war and in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, this particular book focuses on the story of Grace Calhoun, a young woman on the run from her abusive adoptive father who forced her and other orphans to work in his mills, who ends up teaching in a small town in Texas. The blight of her classroom is a family of five rowdy boys, a set of twins and one of triplets, and their loud, single, rancher father. Obviously, these two are made for each other, but they have yet to figure this out. Long story short, Grace ends up hiding from her father in the back of this rancher’s wagon, where she nearly freezes to death, and spends the night inside his home, literally a one-room cave, thawing out, along with the five boys. The preacher hears about this impropriety, and forces marriage, much to the chagrin of the rancher and Grace. (On their way out of the cave, we learn that the preacher and his wife know that there was no impropriety, but simply decided to play matchmaker and force marriage on the two.) The story that Mary writes will keep you in stitches as she unfolds the story of the unlikely pair.
4. Mirror Mirrorby Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire is a literary genius; his retelling of the Wizard of Oz story from the vantage pint of the Wicked Witch of the West was absolutely fantastic, and inspired a Tony-award winning musical. In this story, he recounts his version of the Snow White story. I bought this book at a discount book store as well, and had it on my TBR pile (not “stack”, “stack” indicates a few books, whereas “pile” indicates the barely organized chaos that is my TBR collection), and somehow it managed to get itself lost under all of that insanity, only to be recently rediscovered in the process of packing up and moving apartments. And being a sucker for fairy tale retellings, it got bumped to the top of the pile again, to be devoured as soon as I am settled in my new place. And I can’t wait to see what Maguire’s word craft holds for me this time.
5. Love on Assignment by Cara Lynn James
The second installment of the Ladies of Summerhill series, Love on Assignment follows Charlotte, an aspiring journalist in the year 1900, set out to go undercover as a governess for a widowed pastor/professor in town who writes religious columns for a competing paper in town. She is all set to reveal his secrets and destroy him, only to discover that he lives up to his columns, and there is no dirt to tarnish his reputation. Of course they end up falling in love, only to have their relationship jeopardized when he learns that she has been deceiving him all this time, but they find a way to work it all out and live happily ever after. I read the first of this series, Love on a Dime, because I downloaded it free for my Kindle, and I saw this one at the dollar store for $3. This series focuses on women writers in the early days of writing as a profession for women, and that is what caught my attention. In Love on a Dime, the lead is a dime novelist writing under a pseudonym because her family wouldn’t approve, even though she inserts religion and scripture references into her writing. This time period is fascinating, and the concept of female writers is so new and unexplored.