"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A year in books--Life ain't booked up yet

What have you read this year?

My goal has been a book a month, and while some months seem to elapse without one, others are crammed in. Some are short, some are long (Harry Potter, and Roads to Oz), and there are variations.

So far, this year, I've pretty well made my goal, pretty much in chronological order starting in January:
  1. The Shack
  2. Lincoln on Leadership
  3. Landscapes of New Mexico
  4. Roads to Quoz
  5. Okeefe and Adams
  6. Good Omens
  7. A New Earth
  8. The Worst Hard Time
  9. Poems from Dry Creek
  10.  Cezanne's Composition
  11. Turner to Cezanne
  12. The Dutch Italianates
  13. The Good War
  14. Teaching with the Brain in Mind
  15. Old Friend from Far Away
  16. Art and Fear
  17. The Rhino Ranch
  18. The Associate
  19. The Lost Symbol (to be finished soon)
You can tell I prefer non-fiction. Nothing like good journalism.

Our bookshelves are full of books we've read and treasure...including stacks of them around the house on the brick hearth near the fireplace, in baskets in different rooms. My art books occupy two shelves in my studio.   I've got a small collection of signed first editions, and all of Tony Hillerman and Harry Potter first editions. I carry The Art Spirit in my car so that I can just open it and read a little if I'm stalled somewhere or waiting on someone or something. Whitman is beside the bed--my textbook from long ago at Central State where I was an English major (before I repented).

My books are marked up too--with phrases and words underlined...good description, original thoughts, strong imagery. Like from The Cruelest Journey: "Our journeys choose us, not we them."

My wife reads more than I do...she has stacks of books by the bed on the table and floor that seem never-ending, as she reads several at once, usually every night before dozing off. She's got gobs of cookbooks scattered in kitchen cabinets, on top of the microwave and around the kitchen--the two most recent from Cafe Paschal in Santa Fe, and Low Country Cooking with 82 Queen in Charleston. When we go somewhere, we come home with cookbooks. We rarely read the same books.

It's no wonder we like bookstores, and especially McMurtry's Booked Up  bookstore in Archer City, a half million used books in a town of 1,200--site of his Last Picture Show journey that ends five books later with this year's Rhino Ranch. We were there in March on spring break--coming back from a vacation in Fort Wort--and both came home with musty, delightful purchases. I drink my Sunday morning New York Times coffee from a mug I bought there, with the Booked Up logo, a pig standing on a book, on the side. And Susan demands the Book Review first.

Education is never complete, is it? Life ain't booked up, yet.

3 comments:

  1. Great list, Clark. I read 'Teaching with the Brain in Mind," last year for a class. Very progressive ideas there. Love all the art books you read - and The Whitman Reader is my constant companion! I cannot imagine not reading fabulous works if one is able to do so! Well, anyway loved this post!

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  2. Forgot this:

    “A man is known by the books he reads.” Emerson

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  3. A Pratchett book on your list. Nice. Have you read The Truth by Pratchett about newspapers.... it's wonderful – give it a try if you haven't already.

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