Category Archives: Authors

Summer Reading

Now that summer is here, I have begun to think about what I would like to read.  Typically I set a goal of at least five books each summer.  Today I am going to publish my list for this year, as well as a list of books I have read in the past which I highly recommend.

My 2011 Summer Reading List:

1. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin

I read A Wizard of Earthsea several years ago when I was in college.  It is one of the best fantasy books I have read. Actually, it is one of the best books I have read, period.  Since then I have wanted to continue the series, but as things go, I never got around to it.  Then, recently, a friend brought a few books over to our house for my wife to read while she is at home with Atticus.  I took it as a sign that I should fulfill my intention of completing The Earthsea Cycle.

2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I have read many, many selections from this landmark work by America’s most beloved poet, but I have never read it in its entirety.  It is with intention to more fully understanding the birth of American poetry that I will begin reading this book.

3. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard

I actually don’t know much about this book.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and I have heard Dallas Willard referred to as a contemporary-era C.S. Lewis.  That was enough for me.

4. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins

This is Billy Collins’s latest work.  I have yet to pick up my copy, but I have recently come into a little cash, so I think I will soon be buying it.  I have read the first several poems in the book, however, and I am extremely excited about completing it. The subject matter is similar to Ballistics, but while Ballistics was a bit morose and melancholy, Horoscopes for the Dead returns to Collins’s more familiar style of inserting humor and scathing sarcasm into his musings over heady topics.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia by John C. S. Lewis

I have read this entire series many times before, but it is a summer tradition for me.  I read through all seven books in one big go, usually in about a week.  My favorite books in the series are The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Horse and His Boy, and The Last Battle.  My wife loves The Magician’s Nephew.

That’s it for my intended summer reading list.  To finish today’s post, I would like to include a list of books I have read during previous summers.  I recommend these books for any taste and preference in literature. I list them here in no particular order:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is one of my all-time favorite books.  I believe that this is one of the most important American novels ever written, next to only Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, I recommend that you do so promptly.  My son’s name was inspired by one of the principal characters in this book.

2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

I believe this book definitely deserves a spot on the list of most important books ever written.  Samuel Clemens was writing during and after the American Civil War, and he was one of the most outspoken abolitionists of the era.  He has a sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek way of making his points, which has lead to him being accused of racism, and his most successful book to be protested in many, many schools and libraries. However, if one reads the book carefully and knows a bit about the author, his message becomes apparent: slavery and forced subservience is an abomination.

3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This is a fantastic Dust Bowl-era novel, and it is a quick read.  If you want to enjoy (?) a very sad story, this is the book for you.

4. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

I know that the market is saturated with supernatural, and especially werewolf, stories.  Even so, you should give this book a chance.  It is nothing…nothing…like the current most popular supernatural romance story.  I promise.  It takes place in south L.A. and is written in the style of old detective noir stories. There are gangs of werewolves who use their ability to run a methamphetamine ring, an unsuspecting and down-on-his-luck dog catcher, hippie surfers, confused detectives, dangerous romance, and lots and lots of violence. Oh, and the werewolves could more accurately be described as werepitbulls.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

I am not recommending this book because the film is scheduled to be released next month; I am recommending it because it is a really good book.  The only drawback is that if you haven’t read the entire rest of the series, this may not be a great place to start.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one, though, because Rowling’s treatment of her characters is meticulous, and the way in which she deals with the subject matter (primarily mortality, the fear of death, and the afterlife) is profound and mature.  It is the perfect climax and resolution to a series as magnanimous as Harry Potter.  And if you like a good villain, the Dark Lord Voldemort is probably my favorite antagonist ever written.  He is truly malignant, cold, and vicious, and he really shines in books six and seven of the seven-part series. Make no mistake: Harry Potter may start out as children’s literature, but by the end it is as dark, deep, and original as any of its canonized peers. Yes, you should certainly read them before you see them.


Welcome, Atticus

As many of you may already know, I have recently welcomed my son into the world.

His name is Atticus Michael Hylton.  He was born on Thursday morning, and everything went very, very well.  My wife is already almost fully recovered, and my daughter is fascinated with her new little brother. He is calm and easy to please; most of the time he is content to let us hold him while he snuggles up and watches us.

When my daughter, Clara, was born, I did not think I had the capacity to love anything the way I loved her from the very first moment she took breath into her lungs.  As my son was growing in the womb, I worried that I had reached the limitations of my ability to love.  It is a good thing that God’s compassion, wisdom, and grace is eternal and infinite, and that he will frequently give to us a measure of His love so that we may share it with others. As soon as my son opened his eyes, I loved him dearly; I loved him fiercely.

The greatest thing about having children is that it can give one a small glimpse through the eyes of God.  We can learn, in part, what it is to create.  It can be learned, in part, what it means to truly love.  We can come to understand what it means to desire and yearn for someone else, a creature who is flesh of our own flesh and spirit of our own spirit. We know that we would go to whatever ends are required to cover our children with our love.

In honor of my son’s birthday, I would like to share with you a song and two poems.  Please enjoy.

To the Future

He, the unborn, shall bring
From blood and brain
Songs that a child can sing
And common men;

Songs that the heart can share
And understand;
Simple as berries are
Within the hand:

Such a sure simpleness
As strength may have;
Sunlight upon the grass:
The curve of the wave.

William Soutar

***

Words for My Daughter

Come, the cap of birth is dry,
my labouring is done, your cry
has split the world’s roof.

Be comforted, the womb
returns to wrap around you.

Sweet darkness, velvet-blood
from which you came, as night
will cup you again, again

move you outward into light;
a brilliance to be danced in

is life. Your staggering steps
will grow to trust this earth;
it meets both sure and unsure feet.

That shifting pain will shape
the edges that define you.

Know the body that confines
is a new kind of freedom
to find the fullness of you.

Move through yourself. See,
the future is with child

and needs your labouring.
Be done with pasts, walk away.
I’ll watch. I’ll guard your back,

blinded by my own time. Go forward
from the shadows mothers cast.

As old women shrink, rich fruit
seeds into the garden.
I have been. Now you. So live,

we have both shed our tears
for miracles, for coming new.

In birth-sleep heavy at my breast,
love child, first comes the dream
and then the making true.

Janet Paisley


Taking a Sick Day

I don’t have new content today, at least not in the way of “Hey, come check out my new post on [PS]!”

I got pretty sick this week, and I have been trying to prepare things at work should I have to suddenly leave when my wife goes into labor. As such, I haven’t had much time to write.  I have several pieces and thoughts in the works, but I am only about half way through all of it. I know, I know: “excuses, excuses…”

I would like to take today’s space to share a few things with you:

If you haven’t been over to Popgun Chao$, you really should stop by.  I greatly enjoy Cody’s analysis of comics and sub-pop culture.  I don’t even think you would have to be a comic expert to enjoy his articles; if you’ve ever heard of any major super-hero, there’s something here for you.  If you’re not in to comics, there’s something here for you.  In fact, you could start here.

You should also go by Andrew Eaton’s blog.  He’s begun a discussion on a pretty interesting article about reading the Bible from a literary perspective.  Go over and get involved.

This is a really cool website: In Bb 2.0

Currently I am reading Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.  If you are unfamiliar, it’s a novel about South Africa under Apartheid rule during WWII. The prose is brilliant and poetic; I’m only about half-way through, and it has already brought me to tears. Swing over to your library or book store and pick up a copy if you’re looking for a good summer read.

Recently, my school’s TSA chapter raised over $2,000 for the American Cancer Society.  I pledged to shave my head if they raised over $2,000.  I will be donating my hair to Locks of Love, and the event will take place late next week.  I am impressed at the level of giving and the spirit of generosity that was displayed by our students, faculty, and community during the course of this fundraiser.  I am proud to work among such people.

Lastly, here is the plug for guest writers.  I don’t want to have to say it again, but I will; please don’t make me beg you to send in submissions.

Thanks, and I love you all.  I am enjoying myself as I write for this blog, and all of the encouragement and positive feed back has truly been a blessing.

God is good.

Please come back on Tuesday, as I expect regular content to resume once I finish up this week.  Thanks, as always, for reading.

-Mike


April is Full of Blessings

It’s National Poetry Month, so today I have decided to put up some things I would like to share with you. Today’s post is a bit long, but I hope it will be worthwhile.

To begin with, I would like to recommend a few poets and books of poetry you should check out.  The first is my absolute favorite collection of poetry, Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins.

This a great introduction to poetry. If you have struggled with poetry in the past, this is the book for you.  Billy Collins has a way of starting out a poem in a way that is light and humorous, often times irreverent, and by the end of the poem turning the tone around on the reader, plunging suddenly into sorrow, beauty, and, yes, even love.  Sailing Alone Around the Room is a collection of poems from Collins’s previous volumes, sort of a “best of,” if you will.  I highly recommend this book for someone who is dabbling with poetry as either a reader or a writer.  To see the man in action follow this link. He has also just released a new book, Horoscopes for the Dead (Make sure to read the news story below).

Another book I really appreciate is Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays.

This is a general collection of the works of the late Robert Frost, who is famous for the poems “The Road Not Taken,” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” two of the most celebrated poems in the American canon. Robert Frost is probably a poet you have heard from before, whether you realize it or not.

One final book I would like to recommend is Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr.

This book may be for the less-novice poetry fan, but I don’t think it is terribly dense linguistically.  What it is thick with is imagery and commentary on faith, and beautifully, beautifully expressed reflections on growing up, making mistakes, and finding Grace. My favorite poem from the book is titled “Disgraceland,” and I can barely get through the last three stanzas without tearing up. A good friend of mine loaned me this book, and it took me a while…most of a year…to return it.  Thanks, Andy.

Because it is National Poetry Month, there has been a lot in the news concerning poetry.  Here are a few stories that have appeared this week, in case you are interested:

Poetry has the Power to Inspire, to Foster Community

I really enjoyed this editorial because it gave me a good idea.  I wondered, after reading it, how I could share poetry this way in my apartment community.  I then realized that there are bulletin boards over the mailboxes and in the laundry facilities.  Now that I have had this realization, I find that it is my neighborly duty to plaster them with my favorite poems…

Poetry’s Role in Literacy Development

The English teacher in me couldn’t resist putting up this link.  It makes sense to me that learning short, repetitive verses would help foster in children’s minds patterns for sounds and the feel of language. My daughter’s favorite books, the ones she chooses for herself, are typically the ones that she can “recite” along with us.  Typically these are the ones that are written in some form of verse.

Collins Values Approachable Poetry, Not Pretension

This is why I appreciate this man so very, very much.  He has worked to grow an awareness and appreciation of poetry in America.  He used his post as Poet Laureate to promote poetry and literacy programs in public schools and libraries across the U. S.  I cannot wait to get his new book, Horoscopes for the Dead.

Okay, I’m done cramming things into this post.  I’ll finish up with a few housekeeping items.

I am working on adding a “submissions” page to the site. It would be a place for anyone who would like to contribute something to Poor Scribbler to submit their writing.  More to come.

As always, I am looking for feedback on the page. If there is something you would like to see or something you would like me to write about, please let me know.  If you have any complaints about the site, I want to know that, too.  I really want this to be a place to come enjoy, so I need to hear from you! Sign up, comment, and enjoy!

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has helped to make my first week doing this a successful one.  I’ve had a lot of traffic, and it humbles me to no end.  Thank you.  It has been uplifting.

See you on Tuesday. Blessings.

-Mike