A DIY Manual for Humans

Top Reads 2016

A Little, Aloud with Love, ed. Angela Macmillan

I feel a little proud of this one, Aunty-proud, because I saw it grow from the early days through to publication and life in the wide world. The third in The Reader’s A Little Aloud series, this is a gorgeous collection of prose and poetry for reading aloud to someone you love, put together by my long-time best friend and colleague, one of the three founders of The Reader, Angie Macmillan.

From Angie’s introduction, in which she describes a shared reading session in a Care Home where she as group leader is the only member under the age of eighty-five, to the final poem in the book, Anne Bradstreet’s quietly affirming  ‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’, there is much good reading, good sharing,  in this lovely volume. Shared Reading group members, the afterword following the Bradstreet poem tells us, have taken the poem home to give to their partners. And in the Care Home group, Angie notes,

The poems and books that are important to us at The Reader as the tools of our trade are the ones that make connections at a deeply personal level. Everyone in the nursing home could make such a connection with Burns’ great poem (‘My love is like a red, red rose’) and thus we came together in shared experience both of the poem and in something understood between us.

The book finds many kinds and phases of love, giving all of us something to connect with, recognise and share. You might read this with your sister as much as your partner, with a work colleague or your old, old mother-in law.  You would share  excitement and underlying anxiety in Mr Rochester’s garden-at-night-proposal to Jane Eyre, or perhaps the not knowing where or what  love is in George Saunders’ unpredictable (always unpredictable, George) ‘Puppy’.  Anyone in a domestic love relationship will enjoy the terrific daily love in the pair of poems  on ‘Holding Up’ –  U.A. Fanthorpe’s  ‘Atlas’  (‘There is a kind of love called maintenance/which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it’) and Michael Blumenthal’s ‘A Marriage’.

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you…

But then,
something wonderful happens:

a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

A Little Aloud, with Love helps us hold up the ceiling by giving us words for the everyday of love as well as the grand dramatic moments.

Reading a poem or one of the prose pieces each week, it will last you and your beloveds all year.




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