My 2015 in Books

This has been a busy year for me as both a reader and writer. Because I spent so much time revising and publishing my children's book, Ms. Avocado Solves a Mystery, that project sits front and center when I reflect on my year in books.

Many of my friends and family were surprised that I was writing Ms. Avocado because my life as a writer over the past decade has focused on poetry and book reviews. However, my work as both a poet and reviewer were tremendous assets when writing my kids' book because through those genres I spent lots of time thinking about and playing with structure, conciseness, and clarity. Ms. Avocado was a fun project and expanded my view of myself as writer. Not to mention, poetry does play a role in the book, as the lead character, Ms. Avocado, spends some of her time writing poems and the book shows glimpses of her writing journal.

I am also an avid mystery reader, and I gobbled up stack after stack of mystery books. Of the novels new and old in the genre I read this year, these are the ones I recommend: Finders Keepers by Stephen King, Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs, Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King, At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie, and Murder She Wrote: Coffee, Tea, or Murder? by Donald Bain.

That said, I did not abandon poetry. 2015 was bittersweet on this front, namely due to the loss of my mentor, Jane Hoogestraat, shortly after the publication of her collection Border States. Her work clouds out everyone else's at this point. I did think Richard Siken's War of the Foxes was very good, and there are a bunch of books (namely collections by Mark Doty, Saeed Jones, and Mary Oliver) I hope to read sometime soon, but I keep thinking about Dr. Jane and her poems.

Before I forget, I also have to thank Door is a Jar Magazine for publishing my poem, "A Song Plays."

It's been a busy year as a reader and writer, full of joys and some sorrow. However, I have enjoyed so many wonderful book projects over the past 12 months. We live in a wonderful time to be a reader and writer, where you have so many outlets to share your work and a gluttony of great books to read.

I hope you had a delightful 2015 with the written word too, dear reader. There is so much to be grateful for.

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