BY JAEDA ENGBERG
With spring break and the unexpected arrival of COVID-19, March seemed to last an entire year. This resulted in a work from home status and lots of reading. Thankfully, I had prepared well in advance for this unfortunate and indefinite time of quarantining by checking out several books from the Fargo Public Library. Throughout the month, I could be found cozied under a blanket (plus snuggled with animals) with a mug full of coffee as my brain was fed with a wild variety of poetry and fiction.
Here is a list of what I read in March. All books can be found at the Fargo Public Library.
Bloom in Reverse by Teresa Leo, 5/5 stars
As implied by its title, this collection does life backwards. Starting with death and melancholy and ending with solace and love, Bloom in Reverse follows life after a friend’s suicide, a toxic relationship, and the relatable (and cringey) experiences of dating. All emotions and events tie together in some form or fashion, creating a beautifully mesmerizing book that will leave you thinking: Did I just read about my life? Well, that’s how I felt anyway. Just read this and come back to me with your review.
Blowout by Denise Duhamel, 4/5 stars
Blowout covers years of love, variations of love, from falling out of love to falling in love, ex relationships, desire, cheating, and healing. This relatable subject matter will be of interest to any reader, and Duhamel’s interesting conversational language will captivate you until the last page.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith, 5/5 stars
This celebrated collection sequences violence, the afterlife, queer experiences, racism, and police treatment toward black individuals. Smith’s daring and raw language encompasses the danger and outrage of living as a queer African American man in the modern world. Don’t Call Us Dead will make you cry, give you courage, make you angry, and make you proud of Smith’s strength and vulnerability.
Earthbound by Dee LeRoy, 3/5 stars
I was really excited about this book but ended up being let down. Earthbound is a simple tribute to the universe and nature. It is meditative and lovely, but I found myself drifting off and grateful that it was such a short collection. This may be for others, but it’s not the one for me.
Eye Level by Jenny Xie, 5/5 stars
Wow, this collection was stunning. Focusing on life as an immigrant, Eye Level embodies the fast paced, ever moving travels across the world as the speaker’s observations lead her to ask herself many pressing questions regarding life as an outsider.
Four Reincarnations by Max Ritvo, 5/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from Milkweed Editions, and I read it in one sitting as soon as I got it in the mail. Holy, this is one of my top five favorite books I have ever read. Ritvo passed away in 2016 at age twenty five from a long battle with cancer, and this poetry collection was published shortly after his death. Four Reincarnations is an intimate look at death, suffering, love, counting down the days in a hospital, and loneliness while battling a tragic disease.
The Smoke of Horses by Charles Rafferty, 5/5 stars
The Smoke of Horses consists of prose poems covering the mundane with slight twists of pure imagination. If you didn’t think deer, dead mice, a smoke detector, and more can be interesting and full of deeper meaning, then think again. Rafferty’s collection will leave you pondering your surroundings and the wild stories you can create just by looking around you.
Time of Useful Consciousness by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 5/5 stars
It’s no doubt that Ferlinghetti is an absolute legend. Published when he was 93 years old, Time of Useful Consciousness authentically takes readers back to the 1950s when the Beat Generation was thriving. Lovers of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and others will equally admire Ferlinghetti’s electrifying voice. I can’t describe this poetry collection. Just know that if you are a poet or avid and explorative reader, you should be reading work by all the Beats.
Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle, 5/5 stars
I’m a sucker for a great and original mystery novel. Going into this, I thought it was going to be another Gone Girl (which I loved but feel it has been overdone), but man, was I proved wrong. Dear Wife will have your eyes glued to the pages and your mind racing as to what phenomenal twist will finalize this book. Surprised you will be, but disappointed you will not.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, 4/5 stars
This was a little young for me, but an eye-catching read, nonetheless. Think of Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club and you get One of Us Is Lying. Filled with romance, cliques, mystery, and four suspects of a murder, this novel will have you finishing it in one sitting.