REVIEW: Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle

I've been meaning to write this review for years. I just don't know how I'm supposed to coherently explain my love for Madness, Rack and Honey. I'm not convinced there is a way. I'll do my best.

About Madness, Rack and Honey

I first saw Madness, Rack and Honey on @herpickings Instagram account, which is one of my favourite places to go to get recommendations. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the cover, and some of the quotes sent my heart in a tizzy. I loaned it from my library as soon as possible, and slowly devoured it over the following months.

Once I was finished, I quickly logged on to book depository and ordered myself a copy.

Madness, Rack and Honey is a collection of lectures from poet Mary Ruefle. It covers topic such as, theme, fear, Emily Dickenson, the moon etc. and it almost reads like a derailed train of thought. Sometimes you can't quite figure out where Mary is going, but like all good things, it's mostly about the journey and not so much about the destination.

This will be a short review, because there's only so many ways I can tell you that I absolutely adored the crap out of this book.

The Things I Loved in Three Examples

I think it best to simply show you what I loved, rather than tell you.

Number 1

"I remember reading Rilke's Duino Elegies again and again and again, until I "got" them, until something burst over me like a flood, and I remember, once again, weeping and weeping with a book in my hands." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

This is how I feel about Madness, Rack and Honey.

Number 2

"I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, “I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I wanted to say”; but I know now I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

My hands are in the air, I'm saying 'Preach it, sister.'

Number 3

"My idea for a class is you just sit in the classroom and read aloud until everyone is smiling and then you look around, and if someone is not smiling you ask them why, and then you keep reading - it may take many different books - until they start smiling, too." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

This sounds like everything thats good in the world.

And On The Flip Side

This is, by no means, a book for everyone. It's non-fiction. It's poetry lectures. If you're not a fan of books like Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, then Madness, Rack and Honey will not be your cup of tea. However, if you're a poetry fan and criticism nerd like me, you need this book in your life. Now.

Overall, My Favourite Thing

This is it. This book is my island book. The one book I'd pick if I had to read a single thing over and over for the rest of my life. It's like the whisperings of a kindred spirit. Though, perhaps a better word would be ramblings. There's no other feeling like reading an author who just gets you. It's like your heart is constantly overflowing, and you can't possibly read for very long at a time because you've so much emotion there's every chance your heart may just give up and stop.

Simply put, I loved Madness, Rack and Honey.

Star Rating

All the stars. All the stars in the infinite night sky. Absolutely everything. I give the entire universe, the whole galaxy to Madness, Rack and Honey.

On a scale of one to ten, I love it an eleven.

Thanks for reading!


Madness Rack and Honey Review -- The Riverside Library

Madness Rack and Honey -- The Riverside Library

Mikaela is an illustrator, writer and editor based in QLD, Australia. She's been writing novels for eleven years and editing for six. You can often find her with a coffee by the beach, pondering existentialism and the psychology of writing. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and takes pride in her paradoxical nature. She's also very much like a cat.

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