Friday, November 6, 2020

3 Favorite Books I Read this Year, Plus an Inspiring Song

Happy Poetry Friday! Today, instead of a poem, at the end of this post I'm sharing some song lyrics I've found especially inspiring during this challenging year. But first, I want to continue our end-of-the year series about a favorite book, poem, or quote we read in 2020.

Last week, Gwendolyn discussed as her favorite book, I See You, I See Myself: The Young Life of Jacob Lawrence, written by Deba Foxley Leach. (I've already added the title to my to-read list.) Unlike Gwen, I couldn't limit my favorites to just one title. I'm sharing three! The first two books are titles picked by the Not for Kids Only Book Club I'm a member of.

1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 

This book has won numerous awards, including a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and the Edgar Award Prize for Best Young Adult Fiction. Not only is Long Way Down a beautifully written novel in verse, this powerful book also deals with important issues that are especially relevant today.

2. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Dutton Books for Young Readers).

This novel, set in Depression-era Maine, is a 2020 title featured on Anderson's Bookshops Mock Newbery list. Despite the historical setting, this story about coping with unemployment and hardship is also relevant these days. The writing is quite lyrical, so I wasn't surprised to learn Lauren Wolk is a poet as well as a novelist. 

3. What Is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems by Michael Rosen (Candlewick Books). 

This engaging nonfiction book was first published in the U.K. in 2016, but wasn't released here in the U.S. until 2019 and I just discovered it recently. I'm still working my way through this one because I'm savoring and learning from each section. Michael Rosen includes many great tidbits in this book, such as the following:

"Poems are a midway point between poets and readers. The poet pours in one set of meanings. The reader picks up a poem and puts in another set of meanings, and the two meet somewhere in the middle. That's what reading a poem is all about. It's a conversation between two sets of thoughts: the poet's and the reader's."

In researching Rosen's book, I was surprised to learn the author contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and was hospitalized for three months. He talks a bit about his experience and ongoing health issues at the beginning of this video. I hope he eventually makes a complete recovery.   

Finally, as promised, I'd like to share some song lyrics that have inspired and encouraged me during these difficult times. They're written by Carrie Newcomer, a performer I discovered when someone shared this song with me earlier this year:

Excerpt from lyrics of "You Can Do This Hard Thing"
by Carrie Newcomer
Here we stand breathless  
And pressed in hard times.
Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines.
Impossible just takes
A little more time.
From the muddy ground
Comes a green volunteer.
In a place we thought barren
New life appears.
Morning will come whistling
Some comforting tune,
For you.
You can do this hard thing. 
You can do this hard thing.
Its not easy I know, 
But I believe that its so.
You can do this hard thing. 
©2016 Carrie Newcomer  

It's hard to believe Newcomer released this song in 2016. "You Can Do This Hard Thing" feels like it could be an anthem for 2020. 
You can read the song's complete lyrics on this page of her website by clicking the cover of the album, The Beautiful Not Yet. And you can hear her perform the song below or on YouTube here.

Don't forget to check out this week's Poetry Friday round up at Susan Bruck's Soul Blossom Living.
Posted by Carmela Martino


Bobbi Miller said...

O! I love these recommendations, and the poem is inspirationally perfect. Love this song!! Thank you!

Liz Steinglass said...

I loved Long Way Down. The Michael Rosen book looks wonderful! I will take a look. Thank you for sharing!

Linda Mitchell said...

A wonderful post! I did not know about Echo Mountain. Thanks for the tip!

michelle kogan said...

Thanks for the heads up on these three books Carmela, Somehow I heard of Michael Rosen's book, but am glad it's available here now. "Echo Mountain" sounds intriguing. Thanks also for the sensitive and lovely song-music helps in so many ways.

Alan j Wright said...

Always good to hear book recommendations Carmela. I already have the Michael Rosen book, it is a favourite of mine. I have been a passionate gatherer of his books for many years, so it pleases me to see his work promoted by others.I shall seek out the other titles you shared. Thanks again.

Linda B said...

I have other Rosen books, will look for this one, too, Carmela. It is new to me. I'm sorry about his having the virus & his long struggle. Oh, that song does seem to be for this terrible year of 2020. Thank you for finding & sharing!

Carol Coven Grannick said...

An inspiring post, Carmela - have read and loved books 1 and 2, and will absolutely buy 3! Love the song and will learn the music. Thank you! said...

Thanks for sharing this inspiring post. I have new books to add to my reading list--Yay! And the song could definitely be the anthem for this year!

Carmela Martino said...

You're most welcome, Bobbi!
Liz, I'm happy to introduce you to Rosen's book.

Carmela Martino said...

Linda M and Michelle, glad to introduce you to Echo Mountain. Hope you like it.

Carmela Martino said...

Alan, glad to know you already have Rosen's book. Thanks for stopping by!

Carmela Martino said...

Linda B and Carol--here I thought I was one of the few who didn't know of Rosen's book. I hope you both enjoy it, too.
And Carol, I think it's great you're planning to learn the music to Newcomer's song.

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Susan. ~ Thanks again for hosting Poetry Friday, and for stopping by!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Echo Mountain is one of my favorites of the year, Marti!

And, THANK YOU for sharing Carrie Newcomer's heart-grabbing song.
It's a keeper that will keep me keepin' on!

Carmela Martino said...

So glad the song grabbed your heart, too, Esther.