Saturday, July 11, 2009

15 Books that stayed with me over the years

  • The Greek Way (Hamilton) I read this in high school, and it gave me the crazy idea that I should try different things. (Try reading my resume...) The ancient Greeks believed in the well-rounded man who could recite a poem, play the lyre, make a speech, etc etc etc according to Hamilton. Jack of all trades master of none, oh well....
  • The True Believer (Eric HOFFER) I read this book right after I dropped out of born-againism around 1972. I think it made me wary of other fanatical things I might have fallen into....
  • Utopia Minus X (Rex Gordon) Science Fiction, and now out of print - people are codified and some people are classed X because they don't fit. Hmmm . Classifiable folks get to live in Utopia, the oddballs get launched out into space....
  • The Adogmatic State (Apostolos N Depastas) This one also reenforced the dangers of dogmatsm in a cultural sense rather than a personal one.
  • Working (Terkel) I didn't read this until later in my job-hopping life. Too bad. What a great project.
  • Times Arrow (Martin Amis) In this book, time runs backwards which is the only way the life of a Dr. Mengela makes any sense - he takes the dead, broken or tortured and turns them back into whole human beings.
  • The Road to Wellville (TC Boyle) OMG. This is the funniest book and makes you not want to take any claim at face value. Oh for a good colonic... haha
  • Does Poetry Matter? (edited by ?) This book is a series of essays by different people on the meaning and function of poetry. And yes it does too matter!
  • Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) Whitman goes with Turkel's Working somehow. Leaves of Grass is a celebration of the everyman...
  • Why I am not a Christian (Russell) Two other books on this line that influenced me were The American Religion, (Harold Bloom) and the Lucifer Principal (Howard Bloom)
  • Mount Annalouge (by Rene Dumal) Hmm. Holding the incongruous and eccentric, striving for metaphorical heights, but helping on the way up and down.
  • Owning Your Own Shadow (by somebody johnson) At some point in your life, you might find that this slim volume is worth a library of self help books. A novel I read around that time was The Man Who Would be Thursday by Chesterton? which featured the idea of a doppleganger
  • Pale Fire (by Nabakov) This is the first book I had read where the narrator cannot be trusted to tell you the truth. But you don't realize this at first. Slowly it dawns on you that the narrator is fabricating.
  • Einstein's Dreams (by Alan Lightman) ...a series of vignettes portraying different imagined mechanisms of time and their effect on a town or a few individuals -- written in a clean yet lyrical way.
  • Labinrynth (by Louis Borges) A collection of his short odd works. The Garden of Many Paths. etc My dog orginally chewed up seven of my hats, then abruptlly switched and pulled this book out of the book shelf and chewed it to shreds. I was so upset I bought a crate and crate trained her....)
  • On Writing Well (Zinsser) This guy's advice can enable you to trim Doughboy prose into a jaguar..... Other than the inestimable Jack Sanders, I can't think of anything that has changed my writing more. Hmm - a reread may be in order.
-- Mar Walker