I got back on the reading horse in July. Having a podcast really does push you into that “I must read all the things” mode. Plus bookclubs, because clearly I am unhinged on some tiny level.
Tarot Witch by T. Thorn Coyle — Coyle’s Seashell Cove Paranormal Mystery series has been my escape reading of late. A reluctant witch and her chosen family solve murder mysteries with cleverness and some magical help. It’s nice to be somewhere else for a reading escape. Coyle will also be a guest on the podcast for season three. This one was mostly in June but I finished it on the plane coming back from Nashville.
Weck Small Batch Preserving by Stephanie Thurow — the stereotype of witches collecting jars isn’t really a stereotype but a bit of truism. I personal have a fondness for snagging up ragtag collections of Weck jars on Mercari. It’s more fun than cracking open a case of brand new jars and I wind up with odd mixes of different sizes and shapes. So, this book popped up on BookBub for maybe $.99 a while ago and I snagged it. A few nice recipes and some glamour shots of sexy German canning jars.
The Art of Cyprian’s Mirror of Four Kings: An early modern experiment of Cyprianic conjuration by Alexander Cummins — this was partially a personal edification read and partly for a podcast interview. This isn’t the kind of magic I do, but I am fascinated by the history of grimoires and grimoire magic as both a witch and a writer. Cummins has a knack for making the esoteric understandable in a way that is also enjoyable to read.
An Excellent Booke of the Art of Magicke: The magickal works of Humphrey Gilbert and John Davis edited by Phil Legard with supplementary essays by Alexander Cummins — more podcast reading but also more self edification on the grimoiric magic front. The introduction, forward and essays do make it easier to navigate the original text. I kind of sped through it so this is one to go back and pore over.
The Starry Rubric: Seventeenth-Century English Astrology and Magic by Alexander Cummins — Anytime you read three academic books with subtitles in a month you should get a summer reading prize of your choosing. I am making this a rule. Though to be fair the Cyprian text is quite short and it, the Excellent Booke, and this book are all an interesting and enjoyable read. And it’s nice to occasionally crack those English master’s degree muscles and dig in to the citations. I’ve always had a passing pop-culture, pop-witchy-culture interest in astrology but I never really ‘got’ it. Studying more seriousness grimoire traditions and planetary magic have given me a better grasp of why contemporary astrologers view the planets and influences as they do. The phrase nothing is wasted on a writer comes to mind, but I think it might apply to magickal folk as well.
St. Raphael the Archangel by Vanessa Irena and Alexander Cummins — further pod research and I will fully confess to an academic skim on this one so I’ll have to make my commentary when I’ve had more time with it.
Well Met by Jen DeLuca — book club read — The illustrated romance cover than launched a thousand illustrated romance covers. If you aren’t privy to Romancelandia debates, for a long time only chick lit and rom-coms had illustrated covers. So the move to use illustrated covers on more subgenres has folks who think they are getting froth smack dab in the middle of a dark romance with abuse and sexual assault. Not DeLuca’s fault, definitely capitalism’s fault. No sarcasm. This was a fun romp (cover is appropriate) that made me really want to hit up a Renaissance Festival. The ending was emotionally satisfying but I do have to remind myself that these people are in their 20s for the most part and that’s why it isn’t that unrealistic for them to make uninformed leaps of logic.
The Witch’s Name by Storm Faerywolf — podcast read and a book I was already interested in. It is part of Llewellyn’s Witches’ Tools series. Faerywolf is probably the perfect person to write this book for obvious reasons. There are some really good suggestions in here about how to rename yourself for magical purposes and identity protection. I think it would be a great resource for anyone trying to pick a nom de plume as well.
The Satyr’s Kiss: Queer Men, Sex Magic and Modern Witchcraft by Storm Fearywolf — podcast read that I would probably not have picked up otherwise, as I would not assume from the title that I am the target audience. But, I would have missed out. My favorite part of the book was the histories of queer and magical queer ancestors. I think it’s important to note that being someone who practices magic, witchcraft, cunning … whatever you choose to call it is “queer” in the Oxford English Dictionary first meaning. Queer as a slur for other than straight people came later. I’ve seen some reviews of this book online that find it offensive (it’s a book on sex magic and has some chaos magic influence) or silly (utilizing gay man Bear energy for protection). I personally didn’t come away from it with either of those impressions. There was a lot that didn’t immediately apply to me but there were things that I found useful and valuable. YMMV.
Ozark Folk Magic by Brandon Weston — podcast read but, I loved this book and should have found it earlier. There is so much overlap in Appalachian and Ozark folklore and folkways, but there are things very unique to the Ozarks as well. The book is a guided tour through those folk traditions of the past that were captured in the early twentieth century but it doesn’t imprison them in museum glass. There are contemporary Ozark healing practitioners who deal with contemporary people with very contemporary problems and Weston does an excellent job of explaining that.
Ozark Mountain Spell Book by Brandon Weston — podcast read and the more recent book. This is really a Volume 2 or campion piece to Ozark Folk Magic. The first book is more of an explanation of how we got here and what people do today. The spell book is nuts and bolts. There is still explanation and background but the spells take center stage. I would really recommend reading them together if you are interested.
The Overstory by Richard Powers — book club read — I’m listening to this (the narrator is very good though I find the children’s voices in the Roots section a little jarring). We covered Roots and Trunk for July and we’re discussing Crown and Seeds in August. The Roots part of the book is short stories introducing the characters, their lineages or their lives, and how they are connected to trees. Trunk begins to weave their stories together and I have to say though I am enjoying the story, the writing in Trunk feels a bit diminished from the opening short stories. I have spoiled myself reading reviews and commentary, but I’m still looking forward to learning how these disparate people come together. (25 hours on audio for anyone interested.)