Good Books

A good book is one that clarifies where you are in life and allows you to take a step forward.  Looking back, these books all  mark important stages in my life:

•  Grimm’s Fairy Tales

•  My Friend Flika/Thunderhead/How Green Was my Valley

• Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

• Words For the Wind by Theodore Roethke

• Leaves of Grass by  Walt Whitman

• Tales and Sketches by Nathaniel Hawthorne

• The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

• Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

• Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

• Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig

• Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

• Moby Dick by Herman Melville

• Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

•Lost in the Funhouse by John  Barth

• To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

•Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

6 thoughts on “Good Books”

  1. Several of these books are classics, and most of your readers will have absorbed a few of them. However, I am not at all sure I can equate art with making steps forward. For example, reading James Joyce is worthwhile, and fascinating, but being in the company of a great mind has never made my mind great. An experience of art does not have to take you anywhere specific. For me, art is not for art’s sake exactly, but nor is it a kind of complex instruction manual. I suppose the diversity of texts is really important in that reading can have all sorts of conscious and unconscious effects. Maybe you read in a purposeful way, whilst I read because the words are there.

    1. As an English teacher with seven years of college, I’ve read an awful lot of books, but these seemed most meaningful to me when I read them because they helped me understand myself at the point I read them. I don’t have that kind of emotional reaction to most books I’ve read. But, yes, I only read books in a purposeful way. I exercise for entertainment or watch TV. I tried to write another entry between the entry on does anybody read anymore and this list of books, but I couldn’t make sense of enough that I wanted to post it.

  2. I like your list! There were a few that were new to me, but I’ve read most of them. I had forgotten about “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance,” and want to re-read that one.

    I’m also planning to re-read “The old man and the sea.” I was forced to read it in school as a teenager, but I don’t think I was anywhere near old enough to appreciate it. Teenage boys were hardly Hemingway’s target audience. I think it might have more resonance now.

    1. I’ve written about both of them earlier on this blog — back in the days when I was more ambitious.

      They both represent different stages of my life, as do all of them. I suspect they are somehow “layered” into my personality, though undoubtedly modified by later life experiences.
      experiences I had

  3. You might enjoy Primo Levi’s “The Search for Roots.” He offers samples from books that shaped his life, and introduces them with short explanations. One of your books is on his list, too.

    1. Surprisingly that is one of his books my public library doesn’t stock. It must be out of print since Amazon only lists it through third-party sellers.

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