"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

07 February 2007

Books, Books, Books

Hooray for amazon and Eighth Day Books and school funding and a wonderful husband who rolls his eyes and makes remarks on having to add structural support to the house to hold all the shelves but lets me buy books anyway! I now get to anticipate for the next several weeks the arrival of the following, probably in several different and exciting shipments:

1. George MacDonald, The Complete Fairy Tales, including his essay on fairy tales and both "The Wise Woman" and "The Light Princess."

2. George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind, which I've read somewhere but never owned and must, must have on my shelf!

3. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited. I've been feeling obligated to find out about Waugh, and everyone says this is his best.

4. Eragon. We got Eldest at the used bookstore, and the YM loved it; read it in a matter of hours, I think. So now he gets to find out what happened first, and I get to read them both as a reward for letting him have the books for his own.

5. Dante: I'm finally getting Tony Esolen's translations of all three volumes -- Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. I know the translation will be eloquent and accurate, and I'm looking forward to the introductions, too, which will be eloquent and brilliant.

6. Mary Oliver's Blue Iris, because LuCindy mentioned it, and because Oliver is surely one of the best of contemporary poets.

7. Donald Hall's Claims for Poetry because I want to see what another great poet says about poetry.

8. Literary Essays of Thomas Merton, because it's Merton.

9. Wendell Berry's Standing by Words, because Berry either makes me very happy or very angry, both in good ways.

10. The Didascalicon of Hugh of Victor, on reading well, and, to help with it,

11. Ivan Illich's In the Vineyard of the Text, a commentary on Didascalicon.

12. Neil Postman's Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology; we read Amusing Ourselves to Death last semester, and this one sounds good.

13. The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. I haven't read anything else by Sven Birkerts, but this is a topic constantly before me as I try to teach attention to the word in a technological age.

14. The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment, by Daniel Taylor. Another unfamiliar author to me, but highly recommended by a colleague when we were discussing the dangers of dogmatism but the need for absolutes.

15. The Disciplined Heart: Love, Destiny, and Imagination, by Caroline J. Simon. Any reader of literature should think about the place of imagination in faith. This looked like a good help toward reflection.

16. Gregory Wolfe (editor of Image, a journal of Christian art), The New Religious Humanists. I read his collection of editorials from Image recently, and the one on religious humanism fascinated me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he fleshes out the idea.

17. Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. Neuhaus is an eloquent writer who loves the Lord. I hope this one arrives well before Easter for Lenten reading.

18. Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church. I'm always encountering saints and references to church icons in the works I read, so this color-illustrated book looks like it will be a pleasant education and resource.

and, finally,

19. the texts and workbooks associated with the LongRidge Writers Group Advanced Writing Program: Shape, Write and Sell Your Novel. I did their correspondence course in short fiction some years ago, and my instructor recommended I try this one. (I was always trying to write novels instead of short stories, anyway!) This is a 2-year (or so) course which takes you through the elements of fiction-writing (characterization, plotting, setting, dialogue, etc.), the first three chapters of a novel (including revision), how to query agents and publishers, and the business end of novel writing, all with a published novelist as your teacher and mentor.

So, time to brush the dust off some old files, decide which one to follow (or a new idea, maybe!) and have some fun seeing if I can craft something decent. If I finally decide this isn't my niche, it will still teach me a great deal which will help in teaching literature and maybe leading writing workshops if we ever get to create our creative writing minor.


amelia ruth said...

Wow, your list of good reads makes me feel a lot like a college drop-out. I picked up "Doctor Zhivago" yesterday, and then put it down in favor of "Shakespearean Detectives"--a collection of short mysteries based on the Shakespeare plays, and more full of interesting and useless facts than good writing. Oh well.

alaiyo said...

Oh, Amy, I feel like a college drop-out myself every time anyone else (including, quite often, students!) starts talking about books they've read. Too many books, too little time!

Interesting and useless facts may be more important than you realize right now -- enjoy them!