Saturday, August 26, 2006

On My Mind, and My Nightstand

So, I have a huge ongoing list. There is endless reading to be done, so I'm making an early New Year's resolution to put forth greater effort in attacking "Jordan's Reading List". Harold Bloom, a renowned literary critic and poet and professor of humanities at Yale University (not to mention a big fan of Joseph Smith Jr.) wrote a book about How to read. It is first on my list. He asserts that we must continue to read for ourselves if we are to "retain any capacity to form [our] own judgments and opinions". His book explores where we can find wisdom. From his preface:

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you, because it is, at least in my experience, the most healing of pleasures. It returns you to otherness, whether in yourself or in friends, or in those who may become friends. Imaginative literature is otherness, and as such alleviates loneliness.

Because there is little time and lots to read, Bloom helps us to not "squander our powers" and read wisely. A good place to start. His book is on my nightstand along with (also his) The Anxiety of Influence, A Theory of Poetry and standing next to Bloom are the following:

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe [a book club selection]
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi [a great book about Iranian women reading forbidden books]
A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L'engle [a good mail gift from Jill]

A sampling of works on my "to read" list:
The War of Art [other book club selection]
Art: A New History, by Paul Johnson [800 pages on the history of art]
Tests of Time, by William H. Gass [collection of 14 essays on writing]
The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa [a Portugese poet's poems and journals]
Love, by Toni Morrison [she always offers a good read]
Spring Snow, by Yukio Mishima [called the Japanese Hemingway, a love story]
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert [a beautifully articulated novel by the french author]
In the Country of Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett [takes place on the coast of Maine--I want to go there]
The Storyteller, by Mario Vargas Llosa [A novel about a write, my Spanish selection]
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro [they say it's better than the movie]
Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger [an 11-year-old boy goes on a trek to find his prodigal brother]
Good Grief, by Lolly Winston [takes place in a slow-paced town in Oregon--I wish I lived in a slow-paced town in Oregon]

So, it is a starting place. Now, I must ask to those of you who sat through this possibly dry blog...What are you reading and what do you recommend that I read?


Jill said...

This was NOT a dry post. I love reading about what other people think about reading and about the books they're interested in and why. It's all good.

I haven't heard those two Harold Bloom books, but I have his book about Shakespeare and have been familiar with him for a few years. I had no idea he was a fan of Joseph Smith Jr., that's cool. I'd love to hear more of what he has to say, so if you come across more great passages please post them or email me.

Your list of books to read looks good. I've read The War of Art and Peace Like A River, and loved them both.

I always recommend Angle of Repose, The Stone Diaries and Unless by Carol Shields, Girl With A Pearl Earring, Life of Pi, Gilead, and These Is My Words. (I think I have more favorites listed on my blogger profile.)

Jordan said...

Thank you, Jill, for all the recommends...I am going to keep a working reading list on my computer, I will addd the books you mentioned. Thanks!

TX Girl said...

I love this post today. I actually organized my "Must Reads" binder (has all of the book lists I have gotten from various places and is organized). It made me totally want to read as many books as possible- weird huh. let me know what you thinkg of the book. ... is it worth it? you know what I mean. I have Peace Like A River and you are going to love it.

So Jill I had to read Life of Pi for our book club. I still have not gotten through with the sucker. I seriously read it for months and months- I still haven't gotten past page 50. Do you have a tip to get through the book?

ingrid said...

Jordan! You are so inspiring...definitely not a dry post. I often find myself "reading" music and I spent 5 hours the other day indulging myself. I feel so enriched when doing so, but you have inspired me to read, read, read! I will start with Bloom's book! I too believe that it is important to read for ourselves if we are to form our own judgements and opinions. I also love delving into "otherness" while captivated by a good book.

Thank you for sharing your "reading" list and again inspiring me to improve. Your choices look yummy and intriguing!

Kristi Brooke said...

are you and jill seperated at birth or what.
aweseome list!

rebecca s. said...

Great post - fun to hear other's recommendations. I would add a few: anything by B. Kingsolver (Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer..), Crossing to Safety, About Grace, Crow Lake... man, where do I start. Can we do a virtual book group? I would love to read something together...

to Jill: I read your whole list on your site and laughed out loud at how similar our tastes are! I will definitely read the 2 or 3 that I hasven't read yet... thanks!

Tasha said...

I've been in a bit of a frenzy, I am in the middle of like 4 books, which means I feel quite chaotic... I need to narrow it down.

My book club just did To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of my very very favorite books. I would love to have a little girl named Scout! If that darn Demi Moore wouldn't have used it!

Jill said...

Hi Jordan, I'm just checking back in to tell you I ordered this Harold Bloom book today from Amazon and am so excited about it.

Also, Rebecca I was reading your comment and thinking "hey I love that book, I read that book, that's one of my favorite books too" so that's funny that you looked at my profile and recognized our similar tastes as well.

Jordan said...

Rebecca, love B. Kingsolver--read both of those, will add your other rec. to my list.

Tasha, phooey on Demi Moore, you should name a little girl Scout!!

Jill, I'm so excited! which one did you get, we could have an ongoing discussion--that would be helpful since he's not what you would call an easy read!

amy w. said...

I'm impressed by your nightstand list. I'm even more impressed that you find the time to do this with your busy toddlers. Good for you!

Jill said...

I bought the How To Read book, do you think I need the other one too?

Shawna B. said...

Love all the suggestions. I want to have a read-a-thon. Remember those? I always used to choose to read under my desk. Yep, I'm going to do it. I will soon be having a read-a-thon. Would you like to join me? I'll have really good snacks.

I'm currently reading "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" by Susan Vreeland for my Borg Bookclub with my sisters-in-law. I'm only a few pages into it, but it involves art, so that's very promising. The cover is very nice. I always appreciate an attractive cover. "The Alchemist" is next on the list. I've heard such great things about that book.

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite. Tyler bought me a beautiful leather-bound edition for my birthday.

I'm serious about you coming to my read-a-thon.

Jordan said...

Shawna, just name the date and I'll be there.

Love the Alchemist, good choice.

Jill, I think that one is a good start, let me know what you think. We took a little road trip and I started reading it.

michelle said...

What? Harold Bloom is a fan of Joseph Smith? I never knew that. I would love to read his book that you had highlighted.

I agree with Jill -- definitely NOT a dry post. I so enjoy knowing what other people are reading. In fact, at the beginning of your post I found myself thinking, oh I hope she tells what's on her list of things to read! So thanks for sharing.

I loved Peace Like a River, and Good Grief is a fun, light read. Let's see if I can recommend anything that Jill and others did not: The Secret Life of Bees, My Name is Asher Lev, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Cane River, Plainsong...

The Poisonwood Bible and Angle of Repose are two of my all-time favorite books. I get so excited when someone else loves the books that I love, it makes me feel like we're long-lost friends! Keep us posted on your list.