Thursday, January 19, 2006

a third wander through the book treasures

And, I think there will be a fourth, if not a fifth. I could never really decide on a favorite color, either--so much to choose from.

In no order, save as they come to mind, some more of the quirky or influential books of my life:

Middlemarch, by George Eliot, surely one of the best novels ever written.

The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James. I love all of Henry James, with his thick, clotted cream sentences and his characters so delicately poised, and the deep tension of scenes in which much is revealed by the placing of a teacup. In my store, alas, it is rare that I can get anyone to read James these days. "Too many words".

Riders in the Chariot, by Patrick White. As with James, I do love almost all of White's work. He wrote a number of novels, and even won the Nobel Prize, and had a passionate life long relationship with another man, and kept little pug dogs...This one, though, is my favorite, with its disconnected, passionate, spiritual, crazy, heartrending characters. And that writing.

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And more than Walden, his letters, and his journals, which I have in two enormous volumes (still available, I think, from Dover in hardcover and very expensive). Walden was probably the most important book in my life in shaping a world view and desire for a life that made sense. The journals are wonderful, full of bits of nature lore and walks in the pouring rain.

The novels of Iris Murdoch. I think Nuns and Soldiers is my favorite. They have much repetition, once you gulp down several in a month, but are somehow deeply engaging, strange, poignant. I once summarized the typical plot of one of these as A loves B who loves C who is involved with D but actually wants to be a priest or desires turnips instead of humans. It is an overstatement--but not much of one.

The novels, and other writings, of Colette. Such sensuous detail. Yum. (and she also kept pugs. Interesting. No, I have never had a little pug, or any other little dog. All the dogs that come into my life are enormous.)

The novels of Virginia Woolf, and her letters, and particularly the little paperback Diary of a Writer or whatever it was called--excerpts from her journals, came out years ago. Of the novels I loved best The Waves. You have to surrender to them.

The writings of Virginia's friend Vita Sackville-West (many of her blithe, offhand garden writings have been collected in various books, some with lovely illustrations). Vita was an intrepid gardener-and quite a traveler as well, and a very engaging, vibrant writer. The book about her marriage (Portrait of a Marriage) is also interesting. (Yes, I am a Bloomsbury lover).

Frog and Toad are Friends (by Arnold Lobel). It's an early reader. I love Lobel. Frog and Toad have a special place in my heart.

More anon...


At March 14, 2006 12:28 PM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

Miss J,

I have been enjoying your lists... Lots of overlap.

And I, also, count Frog and Toad as reading pals. I like "Grasshopper on the Road" as well. ("Up with Morning!")


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