books, books, books!

November 19, 2022

Pretty soon we will start seeing the annual best-of lists, but for the moment we still have plenty of book recommendations jumping off the shelf. Here’s another batch:

books for fall…

October 29, 2022

The poetry books, and lists of recommended titles, just keep coming!

Cozy up with a poetry book (or two)… and happy reading!

This is a guest post by Sheila Sondik

Do you have stacks of unread poetry books? If you’re reading this blog, I’d guess that you do. The poet Nicole Sealey pledged to read a book of poems every day in August 2017 and has inspired other poetry lovers to do the same every August since. I decided to give The Sealey Challenge a try this year.

I did it! I read 31 books in August! A half dozen or so were by friends, some were by very well-known poets (Ada Limón, Ilya Kaminsky), and the rest were mostly new to me. So many exciting discoveries from my own bookshelves! I was swept up in the glory of poetry.

The most delightful surprise was finding Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida, a book I don’t remember acquiring, a discard from the Penetanguishene Public Library in Ontario (in spite of its winning the 2004 Governor General’s Award for English-language Poetry). The whimsical Hiroshige print on the cover may have been what led them to misclassify it as a juvenile book. That print was what caught my eye, and the contents are filled with references to Bashō and his trip to the far north of Japan, as well as a Tanizaki short story. One section of this book is written in the haibun form, combining prose and haiku-like poetry. A multipage prose poem features a full-fruited persimmon tree, passed by chance on a drive. That reminded me of our persimmon tree in Berkeley, which gave our family so much joy. There are also many poems in Roo Borson’s book that were written walking along rivers on repeated visits to Australia. Before the pandemic, I visited Australia several times to see my grandchildren. The Sealey Challenge worked in its mysterious way to bring me to many books like this one that have special meaning for me.

There’s no bureaucracy overseeing The Sealey Challenge. Just gather your stash and read. I found it fun to join the Facebook group to get a glimpse of what others were reading. I posted a weekly photo of what I’d read. The only thing I might change next year is to read some longer collections, that may need more than one day to complete. After all, who’s counting?

. . . . .
Sheila Sondik’s Sealey Challenge list, alphabetically:

Hifsa Ashraf, her deep-rooted scars
Hifsa Ashraf, Wildflowers
Rick Barot, The Galleons
Allison Blevins, Letters to Joan
Roo Borson, Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida
Marianne Boruch, Bestiary Dark
Cid Corman, nothing doing
Geffrey Davis, Night Angler
Giorgio de Chirico, Geometry of Shadows
Deborah Digges, Rough Music
Nava Etshalom, The Knives We Need
Linda Gregerson, Canopy
Joan Naviyuk Kane, Dark Traffic
Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains
Danusha Lameris, Bonfire Opera
Ye Lijun, My Mountain Country
Ada Limón, The Carrying
Ada Limón, The Hurting Kind
Nancy Chen Long, Wider Than the Sky
Amy Miller, Astronauts
Jim Moore, Prognosis
Joan Murray, Dancing on the Edge
Hoa Nguyen, A Thousand Times you Lose Your Treasure
Bethany Reid, Sparrow
Masayo Saito, Snow Bones
Caroline N. Simpson, Choose Your Own Adventure
Judith Skillman, Oscar the Misanthropist
Sarah White, Iridescent Guest
Charles Wright, Caribou

. . . . .

Sheila Sondik is a Bellingham printmaker and poet. Her poem “At Tennant Lake” was a Merit Award winner in this year’s Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Her website is


October 18, 2022

It’s a little terrifying to know how many poetry books there are to read. But we wouldn’t want you to miss out, so we’ll keep supplying these lists of recommended titles. (And by the way, we’ll hear soon from a poet who did the big gulp: 31 poetry books in a month as part of the Sealey Challenge.)

more to read

September 27, 2022

Looking for something to read? Here are some more suggestions:

Feel free to add your must-read poetry titles in the Comments.

The Washington Center for the Book and The Seattle Public Library have just announced 39 finalists in eight categories for the 2022 Washington State Book Awards (WSBA) for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2021.

In poetry, the finalists are

  • Broken by Water: Salish Sea Years (Turning Point) by Gary Thompson
  • Dialogues with Rising Tides (Copper Canyon Press) by Kelli Russell Agodon
  • More American (Grid Books / Off the Grid Press) by Sharon Hashimoto
  • Self-Portrait with Cephalopod (Milkweed Editions) by Kathryn Smith
  • Stray Birds (Kelson Books) by Andrew Robin

Congratulations, poets!

See the complete list of 2022 finalists as well as winners and finalists from previous years, and stay tuned for the 2022 winners, to be announced on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2023 book awards, for books published in 2022.

more books!

August 9, 2022

Here are more recommendations and titles for your Sealey Challenge pile:

Happy reading! And if you have a favorite new poetry book to recommend, do leave a comment!

The Sealey Challenge

July 17, 2022

The Sealey Challenge, started by poet Nicole Sealey in 2017, is back again for 2022. The idea is to read a book or chapbook of poetry each day of August. There’s no charge, no rules, and no signup, but LOTS of great book recommendations for August and all year round.

Visit the website and follow #TheSealeyChallenge on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This is the perfect time to prepare your pile of 31 books. Here’s a list of titles posted by Jordan E McNeil. Here’s the Sealey Challenge page on Goodreads.

summer reading

July 16, 2022

We hope that your summer calendar has lots of space for reading and that your summer reading list has plenty of space for poetry. Here are some current recommendations:

Summer is also a good time for catching up with the book suggestions you may have missed. Here are links to some past what to read now posts.


July 3, 2022

Well, The Rumpus beat us to the headline “What to Read When You’ve Made it Halfway Through 2022” but they didn’t include all of the book recommendations, so here you go:

Happy reading! And if you have a poetry favorite, new or old, leave a comment for the benefit of other readers.

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