NO graphicA favorite poem I picked out to read in school assembly when I was a kid was “No!”, by Thomas Hood, a Londoner. (No, I don’t know if he described things this way because he was wearing a hoodie. I think he was in a fog.)

It starts like this:

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon!
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –
No sky – no earthly view –
No distance looking blue –
No road – no street—no “t’other side this way” –

And ends like this:

No fruit – no flowers – no leaves – no birds –

NO Reading

Hood has inspired me to pick out a few books for this month that start with the word “No!”

No Impact Man: The Adventures of A Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan
Beavan tries to live for a year having no impact on the environment. In New York, no less.

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara
The last book in Shaara’s trilogy about World War II, this story covers the Battle of the Bulge up to the liberation of the concentration camps. Gens. Eisenhower and Patton figure largely, as do regular soldiers like a Sgt. Buckley and a Private Benson. You are there.

No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley
An enthralling, white-knuckle story of the tragic 2008 climb on which 11 people died and others were injured. The author is a journalist who interviewed survivors, Sherpas, and family and friends of those who died; his book is a bit controversial because he relegated conflicting accounts of events to an epilogue.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy’s western is set in our own time on the desert landscapes of the Texas/Mexico border. A drug cartel, a hired killer, and a philosophical sheriff make for a literary thriller in McCarthy’s hands. Also a major movie.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
OK, I’m cheating a little, but I had to put in the first book in McCall Smith’s delightful series set in Botswana. If you’ve never met detective Precious Ramotswe, here’s the place to start. (See my blog post, Botswana and Beyond)

No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
The inhabitants of a Jewish village in Romania in 1939 decide to cut themselves off from the outer world and imagine that they can forget history, and change everything. Based on the (magically realistic?) stories of the author’s great-grandmother.

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
Greenwald is the Guardian reporter who broke the story of the extensive National Security Agency collection of information on our citizens which was leaked to him (and documented by) Edward Snowden.

No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell
Rendell’s Inspector Wexford is now retired, but gets involved in the investigation into the death of vicar Sarah Hussain, a biracial single mother who sought to modernize the local Anglican church. Sounds interesting, no?

No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain
The book is more than a companion to the TV series, since you get a behind-the-scenes look at the crew and the shoots, and hundreds of fine-quality fotos. The worst meals Bourdain ate? Warthog in Namibia, and fermented shark in Iceland.

God, No! Signs You May Already Be An Atheist and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette. 
Yeah, I’m cheating again, since “No!” is the second word in the title, but who’s counting?


Author Bio:

Vaughn Harrison works at Half Moon Bay Library. She has no pretensions to negativity.

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