Book Review: Suicide Hotline Hold Music: Poems by Jessy Randall


Author: Jessy Randall
TitleSuicide Hotline Hold Music: Poems
Publication Info:  Red Hen Press, April 2016.
Summary/Review:

Jessy Randall, the Curator of Special Collections at Colorado College, and blogger at Library Shenanigans used her librarian skills to track me down and offer me free copies of her books in exchange for an honest review.  While I’ve never quite figured out how to review poetry, I’ll give it my best shot!

This is a collection of humorous poems on various topics from childhood, to work, to parenting, to popular culture. And pantsing.  There’s a heartfelt poem pantsing.  There is also a selection of “poetry comics” – simple drawings and diagrams where a picture says 1000 poetic words.  This is funny stuff.  If you like humor and poetry, this is for you.

Recommended books: Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton and Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein
Rating: ****

Book Review: There Was an Old Woman: Poems by Jessy Randall


Author: Jessy Randall
TitleThere Was an Old Woman: Poems
Publication Info: Unicorn Press, December 2015
Summary/Review:

Jessy Randall, the Curator of Special Collections at Colorado College, and blogger at Library Shenanigans used her librarian skills to track me down and offer me free copies of her books in exchange for an honest review.  While I’ve never quite figured out how to review poetry, I’ll give it my best shot!

In this volume each poem starts with a line from a Mother Goose rhyme, usually “There was an old woman…” and then goes off entirely different direction.  Usually there’s an anachronism putting that old woman in contemporary times with modern sensibilities, with no shortage of feminism.  Sometimes it’s a lot more absurdist or has meta-commentary on nursery rhymes.  But each poem is quirky and funny.  I enjoyed this book

Recommended books: Cow Poetry and Other Notes From the Field by M Frost and The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs


Author: A.J. Jacobs
TitleThe Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
Narrator: Geoffrey Cantor
Publication Info: Highbridge Audiobooks (2004)
Books Read by the Same Author: The Year of Living Biblically
Summary/Review:

A.J. Jacobs sets out to “become the smartest person in the world” by reading the Encylopedia Britannica in its entirety from A-to-Z.  If you think this is a book about a man reading an encyclopedia and listing the facts he learns, well that’s exactly what it is.  But to be fair many of the facts are interesting and/or funny.  In between encyclopedic entries, Jacobs narrates his personal life.  This includes his relationship with his wife as they try to conceive a baby.  Then there’s his absolutely hilarious father who is also greatly interested in learning.  And Jacobs has a nemesis in his brother-in-law who is an even bigger – and more confident – know-it-all.  Along the way Jacobs attends adult education courses on speed reading and memorization, visits the Britannica publishing offices in Chicago, and appears on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?   I expect that Jacobs might be a tad bit annoying if you met him in person, but in his writing he is funny and charming and this is an enjoyable book for nerds like me.

Recommended booksThe Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester, Book Lust by Nancy Pearl, Dishwasher by Pete Jordan and Because I Said So! by Ken Jennings
Rating: ****