Book Spine Poetry


Well, winter is over for sure. It’s definitely spring! Among other things, that means that I have piles and piles, stacks and stacks of books! They’re all over the place–on most every surface. I’m a reader. I buy them–on line and in book stores; I reread from things I keep on my shelves; I read for pleasure, for relaxation, for information, and probably out of habit: I just love to read.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Nina Katchadourian. She’s an artist of an unusual stripe. And, I don’t know where or when, but she’s who introduced me to the concept of BOOK SPINE POETRY. So every time I get ready to actually make sense of my bookshelves that have been piled high, sort of in the order I’ve read them (no I don’t always read every single one from beginning to end when I take it from the shelf–some I do, some I eventually do, some I never so, and some just were never meant to be read that way in the first place).

BOOK SPINE POETRY, is simple. Interesting, too, because it reminds me what I’ve been thinking over the past months. These books are all on a chest close to where I read the most: in bed.


Sometimes the spines read like poetry all by themselves–sort of like the refrigerator magnets where one can simply juxtaposition words. This pile, not so much.

I’ll make it a poem:

From a bad beginning
the reptile room could be seen
through the wide window,
where people in the trees frowned
at the antics of Tomcat Murr.
His life and opinions were like stories
out of Anton Chekhov.
The evolution of his art seems
like complete plays on his words
when told by the kindness of strangers.
Taken altogether: a biography complete!

Ooooo. What was I doing with these books. Well the top 3 are all Lemony Snicket books–I was looking at them for form, primarily: how they were put together. And I also re-read the first book, and dipped into the other two. I remembered that the form was interesting and wanted to take another look. One thing I’d forgotten was that the Snicket series includes definitions of words as part of the story.

The People in the Trees I keep picking up and putting down. It’s interesting, but not as interesting as other things.

Tomcat Murr came off my shelf when a friend asked me if I knew about it. It’s another book that is worth a look ever so often to remember its form. As a writer, form is always important. (Another book I re-read for form this winter is Olive Kitteridge. It made it to a stack in another room.)

Tennessee Williams is one of a group of genius writers, often expatriate, coming out of WWII. They’re all worth reading. It’s said by many that TW was the best of them. There’s much of his work I haven’t read: I’m catching up. My favorite of the group is Capote, actually: Capote writing before he wrote In Cold Blood.

Then there are the three Chekhov books–one about him as an evolving writer/artist, his plays (I’ve read more of his stories than plays and wanted to do something about that), and a good biography (most important if you want to understand a writer).

My reading life has come to have its own celebration of sort. It’s a fun ritual as I take down my stacks to make a library sort of sense of them again; shelve them in sensible categories.

Just for fun, I’m including the rest of my stacks from this chest. It was a long winter.

My love of children’s’ literature and fantasy is apparent. Some books that are notably missing, probably the ones I spent the most time reading are McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. Why not on the chest? Well, they’re actually ON THE BED. I’m re-reading them for the umpteenth time. This morning I asked myself why I kept re-reading those books, and I was able to answer myself once I decided to put it down on paper: it’s complicated, but there are reasons.

M L S Baisch



Take time to read . . . something! No one loves a blabbermouth.




It stands to reason that if you’re a writer you’re a reader. Right?

One would think so. On the other hand, I recently saw a quote from a famous writer/person (I think it was Einstein, but that seems unlikely as I write this) who stated: Eventually, a writer needs to quit reading and just write. That’s a paraphrase.




  • If you’re a fiction writer who hasn’t the foggiest notion of recent Pulitzer prize winning fiction . . .
  • If you’re a children’s writer who has a clue about recent Caldecott books . . .
  • If you’re a biologist who doesn’t read science journals . . .
  • If you’re a politician who doesn’t read white papers . . .

What, exactly, does that say about you?

I suppose if you’re already read everything important that (you think) has ever been written, and all that’s left to do is to churn out an e-book a month . . . . There really is nothing left for you to read.  Go for it.

I’m actually appalled that the perfectly good NaNoWriMo trend has been recast as an obsessive occupation: If you do it in the month of November you should do it every month.

No one loves a blabbermouth.

Mona L S Baisch

Stephen King

Stephen King

PS I prefer the Stephen King quote: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”


Pondering . . .

I ran on to a quote that hasn’t left my mind since I read it a few days ago.

In art as in politics, well-meant, noble-sounding errors can devalue the world. – John Gardner from On Moral Fiction

He goes on to explain, at some length, that creative efforts that work to tear-down, no matter how wildly they are lauded by the public – whatever the audience (film, music, literature, sculpture, painting), is not really art. Art, by definition, uplifts.

I thought I’d let that wander through some other minds besides my own. Download at least the free chapter from your Kindle bookstore: ON MORAL FICTION.