When “Required Reading” Is a Good Thing


In the back of the journal Copper Nickel there is a feature called “Required Reading.” Usually those words bring fear and loathing to mind (we were students for years, after all), but in this case it is recommended reading from each author published in that issue of the journal for you, the gentle reader.

What fascinates me is how infrequently any given title is recommended by more than one writer. In fact, on a list that sprawled almost five pages, top to bottom, a grand total of THREE titles garnered more than one recommendation.

These titles, of course, might merit our reading attention, as would any title recommended by a writer we particularly respect (or whose work in the journal left a deep impression). Here are the three titles that caught more than one author-reader’s attention:

Application for Release from the Dream  by Tony Hoagland (recommended by Joanne Dominique Dwyer and Yerra Sugarman). Hoagland is a known entity, not only for his poetry, but for his essays on poetry. This title is, I believe, his most recent release poetry-wise, and I will give it a look-see.

Bright Dead Things  by Ada Limón (recommended by FOUR–the most endorsements of any on the list–including Zeina Hashem Beck, Kevin Craft, Danielle Lazarin, and James Davis May). This collection I read last year, finding many of the poems laudable, so I’m one for three on my to-read list already!

The End of Pink by Kathryn Nuernberger (recommended by Jenny Molberg and John A. Nieves). A send-up of fact and folklore, of science and pseudo-science, this one looks like it might make a fun read. If it’s a fun AND rewarding read, I’ll be a happy camper (with a book by the campfire).

We come to books in many ways. Word-of-mouth, for one. Reviews, for another. Sometimes an author we admire gives another author or book the nod. I’ve read numerous titles that were mentioned in J.D. Salinger books and Ernest Hemingway books, for instance. And then you get recommendations from unexpected places. I think Copper Nickel‘s feature, which I stumbled upon as I read the journal, counts as one of those.

No matter. Leads are always welcome, whether they come to fruition (and literary satisfaction) or not!