Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Literary forms. Not so! There are a ton of literary forms, if you cast a broad net (and I do). Remember, it’s all about the title (and about literary forms in name only). Here’s what I’ve already started so far:
- Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
- The Lexicon of Real American Food, Jane & Michael Stern
- The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Ted Kooser
- White Papers, Martha Collins
- The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
The first three are nonfiction (loving Hillbilly Elegy), White Papers is poetry, and Foudini’s autobiography is fiction. Again I must say, one of my favorite things about these reading themes is that it is getting me reading some books that I’ve had around for ages. And while two of the books in progress have been in hand for less than a year (Hillbilly Elegy and The Lexicon of Real American Food), Kooser’s Repair Manual has been on the shelf for 6 years and Marcia Collins for 4. The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat has been around for 16 years, and who knows why I waited so long? I am finding it silly and fun. Sometimes, a book from the cat’s perspective is just the thing.
I’ve already picked my next poetry book, Fieldnotes, by Mark Weiss (patiently waiting for 14 years). I don’t know what I’m going to read next in nonfiction. Titles rising to the top are Field Guide to the Global Economy (it seems timely), Monsoon Diary (particularly appealing because it has a subtitle: A Memoir with Recipes), Notes from the Shore, and Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.
Fiction is more iffy. I’m still not in much of a fiction place, so who knows? One for sure is The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo (YA Newbery winner, and a local author), because I’m reading that for our March book group (of two).
If you still think you can’t find a book with a literary form in the title, leave no stone unturned. I also found the following literary forms lurking in titles on my bookshelves: ballad, book, story, report, novel, anagram, gospel, footnotes, journal, poem, notebook, narrative, riddle, haiku, question, record, and myth. Probably I missed some. And I’m sure there are lots more that aren’t on my shelf, but might be on yours.
Give it a shot. Why not? One book in March that has a literary form in the title. Maybe it will get you out of a rut. Maybe it will get you into a rut. Maybe you will discover one of the best books you’ve ever read.
Let me know what you come up with.