Fun books to read: Adam Wonders

Cover: Adam Wonders, a fun book to read.

Moving verse from the heart and mind of Adam Elliott Davis.

Adam Wonders, a personal reflection on love and loss, works its way under the skin

Damascus, Oregon – September 23, 2015 — “Once in a great while—perhaps once in a lifetime—you meet a true Renaissance man.” Thus reads the editor’s inscription on the back cover of Adam Wonders, an unauthorized collection from the heart and mind of Adam Elliott Davis ($7.99, 112 pages, Dinkus Books, ISBN: 978-0-9893580-0-2).Adam_poetry_01

The soon to be released anthology offers an array of Davis’s poems and other musings on love and loss, collected over an eight-month period earlier this year. Largely untitled, the book’s poems and observations are identified simply by the date they were penned, as though they were diary entries. It is an effective presentation; the reader feels that the writer is sharing something very personal and private with her.

Davis, a long-time Damascus resident and alum of Sam Barlow High School, is a born storyteller whose talents stretch far beyond poetry alone. He is at once a film and stage actor, with an emphasis on musical theater, as well as a singer-songwriter, screenwriter, and film producer. The second entry in Adam Wonders succinctly sums up what underlies the author’s creative process:

Communication is a gift: to speak and be heard; to write and be read; to give lines, and receive them with no need for whatever is in between. Between the lines rest mysteries and conspiracies, pain, confusion, endless struggles between heart and head, and sometimes even beauty and love and magic. But on the page, in the ink, there is simply poetry, simply the heartbeat, simply the truth, and sometimes, that’s enough.

And for Davis, the ink on the page is indeed enough. His poetry soars with the joy of new love, dips with self-doubt, weaves with introspection, and plummets perilously with the fear, anger, and sorrow of loss. He has a particular skill for capturing the entire spectrum of human emotion in relatively few words. He is able to recreate a tender moment simply, without elaboration.

Sometimes when I see you, my brain can’t comprehend it. My mind grows quiet, and simply takes you in,” reads the March 13 entry. “The soft things and the fragile things, you are among them.”

Lest the depth of the emotion in this anthology become too maudlin or overwrought, Davis pokes fun at himself from time to time, even when the pain shows through. One poem is annotated with “sounds best when read with an Irish accent for some reason.” Another reads: “Whatever you break, break it gently, my darling, So I can fix it. —ancient handyman proverb.”

Still another says, “To Love, just throw your heart right at / A wall so hard it sticks. / At worst, at least you’ll leave a mark, / That’s really hard to fix.”

A stifled anger is evident at times: “Oh sweet mercy, / Would that I were / Made of weaker stuff! / For I would bite / Back upon the cruel fate, / With uncommon vengeance.”

Abject despondency resonates at others: “The mark of one given up on life is a certain vacant pleasantness. This is me smiling. Heaven take me.”

Yet Davis bounces back three weeks later with the entry “I couldn’t be happier. The people I love most are right here with me. This is why I’m here.”

Taken as a whole, this volume is a brutally honest ride through a brief period of the author’s life, as seen from the shotgun seat. Davis spares nothing; he hides nothing. The messiness of life is evident. He is completely vulnerable. This is the book’s secret to success. We can all relate. It feels like our own words coming from another’s mouth.

Fun books to read: The Living City

The Living City, one of many fun books to read

The Living City, a fun book to read

The Living City by Bookmaker Jake

Where do I begin? The Living City is a story within a story within a story. The book I purchased is one of a kind, literally. I watched Bookmaker Jake make the book throughout one day at the Wordstock literary festival in Portland. My booth was catty-corner from his.

The Living City is more than a book, it’s a way of life. And it’s one that Bookmaker Jake lives and breathes while selling his handmade books from recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, gas cans, pillows, chip bags, and insulation, to name a few. (Mine was bound and stitched into a carpet remnant Jake pulled out of a trash bin at the convention center upon his arrival that very morning.)

Jake’s books don’t have prices; each one has a story “booklet” that details the book’s creation, including photos of the process, along with an estimate of the material costs and the number of hours of labor involved. (This is “money” in Jake’s world, as well as in the Living City.) You, the purchaser, tell Jake how much you think that effort is worth to you. He, in turn, decides whether or not to accept your offer. (He accepts most offers, except perhaps for those books to which he has become particularly attached during the creation process.)

This is not only how Bookmaker Jake interacts with the world, it is how the characters in The Living City do, as well. You see, Jake is living the story he created, in the hope that he can make his fiction a reality. How awesome is that?

Jake tells his story better than I could even begin. Check it out at Bookmaker Jake’s website, the Storybank Exchange.

If you enjoyed The Living City, you might like to buy more fun books to read from Jake and give them as gifts, because they truly are one of a kind, every damn one of them!

Fun books to read: Skinny Dip

Skinny Dip, a fun book to read

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, a fun book to read

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

Imagine your husband throws you overboard on your anniversary cruise. Now imagine you survive to exact revenge. Going to the cops is too easy. Besides, it’d be your word against his. Wouldn’t haunting him be more fun? And you wouldn’t even have to be dead to do it. How could this not result in a fun book to read? Pure Hiaasen. Set in Florida, naturally. Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Skinny Dip, you might like these other fun books to read:

Fun books to read: Wool (Omnibus Edition)

Wool by Hugh Howey, five of many fun books to read

Wool Omnibus edition, by Hugh Howey: five fun books to read

Wool Omnibus Edition (#1–5) by Hugh Howey

No, I haven’t read these yet either. But they’ll certainly be a fun read, knowing that you’re reading a timeless sci-fi classic to be, almost before the pixels are dry (the first Wool short story was published in July 2011). Already #1 on Kindle (as of October 2012), it rates a stellar 4.46 after more than 5,000 Goodreads ratings!  Check out Howey’s post-apocalyptic world at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Wool Omnibus Edition, you might like these other fun books to read:

Fun books to read: The French Revolution

The French Revolution by Matt Stewart, one of many fun books to read

The French Revolution by Matt Stewart, a wacky, fun book to read

The French Revolution, a Novel by Matt Stewart

An homage to the wackiness that is San Francisco. And apparently that is Matt Stewart’s brain, as well. Not French, but at times revolting,  Esmerelda Van Twinkle loves to eat.  A former pastry chef, she’s now livin’ large—huge, actually—as a copy shop manager on upper Market Street, right in my old neighborhood. I even know the copy shop. A hook-up with a homeless man leaves a bun in her oven… How could that not lead to a fun read? Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed The French Revolution, you might like these other fun books to read:

 

Fun books to read: Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, a fun book to read

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, a fun book to read

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors by Benjamin Wallace

OK. So this one I haven’t actually finished reading yet. But how can it not be hilarious:  Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the people of New Hope are trying to find a new shortstop for their kickball team. Did they make the right decision? Will they be saved? What’s with all the “super-smart” bears? Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, you might like these other fun books to read:

 

Fun books to read: The Husband

The Husband by Dean Koontz, a fun book to read

The Husband, a fun book to read

The Husband by Dean Koontz

Ever had one of those days? Well, it couldn’t be as bad as the Kafka-esque experience of this guy, who, just minding his own business, finds he’s got only hours to come up with $2 million to ransom his wife from unknown kidnappers. Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed The Husband, you might like these other fun books to read:

 

Fun books to read: Nature Girl

Nature Girl, a fun book to read

Nature Girl, a fun book to read

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Revenge is sweet, especially when it’s served up by Honey Santana. She’s had it with predatory telemarketers and turns the tables to offer an all-expenses paid vacation to her backyard: the Everglades swamp. An unpredictable absurdist romp! Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Nature Girl, you might like these other fun books to read:

 

Fun books to read: Thalo Blue

Fun books to read: Thalo Blue by Jason McIntyre

Thalo Blue by Jason McIntyre, a fun book to read

Thalo Blue by Jason McIntyre

Most people worry about losing their mind. Zeb’s found an extra one: a sick, twisted one that is stalking him from the inside as well as the outside. But why? The fun is in finding out in this tale by a master of suspense! Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Thalo Blue, you might like these other fun books to read:

 

Fun books to read: The Cutting Edge

The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle, a fun book to read

The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle, a fun book to read

The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle

Ever had one of those jobs where you can do nothing but fantasize all day about killing your obnoxious customers—and they all but dare you to? Skye Summers does. Humor and suspense: a perfect combination. Check it out at Goodreads.

If you enjoyed The Cutting Edge, you might like these other fun books to read: