Out there on the Facebooks and the blogs and the Internets I have been seeing a lot of people asking me what I have been reading this summer or letting me know what they have been reading these past few months. I have to wonder if this is some kind of trick question. Are these people trying to get me admit something they think I don't want to admit? I just don't know.
I will say this: What I have been reading, with the exception of The Odyssey, has been hit and miss. I have bought a lot of poetry books and only some of them have been really good enough for me to want to go back and read again in the future. Some have been so bad as to make me wonder why I bought them in the first place.
You see, I take recommendations seriously, and perhaps I am a bit naive when it comes to that. I will buy a book for all sorts of reasons. I will buy a friend's book in a heartbeat, and I am very happy to look back and see most of my friends (read blogger/writer acquaintances) have delivered the goods. I will buy a book at the suggestion from one of the writers I know, and for the most part I have been pleased. I will even buy a book based upon an interview I read, and I seem to be a little less successful here but not enough to quit.
Where I get myself into trouble is when I buy a book based upon people gushing an endless stream of hyperbolic praise. And even though I tend to do that very thing on my blog when I review a book, I really need to hold back my impulse to buy without a little more investigation because I am really beginning to notice the burn marks from all the times i have been unhappy with a purchase.
Having said all of that I think the best I can ever say to anyone is to be a patron for the arts and damn the torpedoes. Yes, I have bought more than a few stinkers in my day, but as Collin Kelley has said so well, most 'quality' questions in poetry can be attributed to taste. What's more, I am one to talk. I have been incredibly lucky with three chapbooks and one full length collection to my name so far. My next full length collection is making the rounds right now and I have to tell you it will most likely be out there for a long tome yet, seeing I am not the sort of poet who gels with the contest system. In fact, that may have to change if I want a real shot, the way the publishing world is going. That is, unless anyone of you wants to just up and publish my book because you think I am that awesome. Anyone? Nope. Didn't think so.
So while I think it's interesting to ask what everyone has been reading, I hope you all will forgive me if I sit this round out. And maybe, just maybe, the better question to ask is, "What books did you buy?" or, "What presses have you been supporting?"