"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.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Turning the pages of a year, book by book

I always look at what people have on their bookshelves, because what they read tells you much about them. 
I'm excluding the administrators' official bookshelves, properly arranged and there to impress visitors. I suppose I'd include professors' bookshelves, because there are favorite books there, books that have long histories of research or teaching, though many of them are free textbook copies or books that have been forgotten. I'm primarily referring to personal bookshelves.
So I guess you can tell something about me this year by the books I've read. I'd lost track of the books I'd read this past year, as fall seemed to buzz by, and a feared I'd not made my goal of a book a month. But when I started gathering them up for this post, I was surprised, with 11 more. 
In August I'd completed two books, the eighth and ninth of the year. Thus the year's total is more than 20.
So what does this list tell you? 
  • Non-Fiction:
1. Fresh Air Fiend, Paul Theroux
2. The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner--about areas of the earth where there are an unusually large number of people in their 90s and 100s.
  • Spiritual:
3. 4.5.6. --How God Changes Your Brain, The Meditations of John Muir, The 21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, Living the Questions--the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity,
  • Poetry (I'm working on a story about poetry in Oklahoma, and find it difficult to write about poets without reading their books):
7. The Smell of Good Mud, Lauren Zuniga
8. Nocturnes and Sometimes Even I, Carl Sennhenn
  • Self help(?):
9. I Don't Know, in praise of admitting ignorance
  • Fiction:
10. The Lovecraft Anthology, graphic collection
  • Writing:
11. Several Short Sentences About Writing, Veryln Klinkenborg--my favorite NY Times columnist ("The Rural Life"), and the book I'm adopting for my feature writing class this fall--the first book I've required in over a decade.
  • Uncompleted (Probably never to be completed):
1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss, about punctuation
2. Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Constance Hale, about verbs.
  • Underway
1. And at this time last year, I was wading through Across the Wild Missouri, history by Devoto about the fur trade--I'm still wading through it.
2. Misplaced, to my chagrin, maybe disappeared is better, first edition gift from son Vance, All the Little Things, fiction by Wallace Stegner. I began it, and laid it down and cannot find it.

Obviously, I need to read more fiction. To quote by former student and friend Sheri Guyse, @MyJRNY, speaking to my twitter class last week--"Read fiction, it'll make you a better story teller."



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