Reading is an infinite activity. Our government, through its agent, The Library of Congress, insures this. In the Library of Congress, books are everywhere and new ones are coming in all the time. The shelves are sagging with books of all sorts - from He Doesn't Know I Care to A Modest History of the Universe. Comic books to encyclopedias. books written by dedicated men and women of literature, compulsive egoists, celebrity Bar-B-Que masters, and people who didn't even realize they were writing a book.
Imagine how large this library must be. Curiosity trembles at the thought of this much information. Eyelids grow heavy and breathing slows. The mind can not encompass the existence of this many books. This is why we must read them one at a time.
Reading is an activity that can help put our feet on the ground, while at the same time, it is taking us to places faraway. It expands our vision. If you live in Minnesota, reading can give you a sense of Texas or Tasmania. And, if you live in Texas or Tasmania, you can learn the difference between Minneapolis and Saint Paul and other fascinating things, which you had no idea could make a difference. Outer Space is just pages away and you can come back any time you want. The past exists in the present and you can be a part of it. The opportunities are limitless.
Reading calms us down. Although it can be done, reading while walking or driving is not recommended. It is a reflective act. And reflecting at stoplights or on sharp curves can be dangerous. When we read, we are (most of us) sitting down. This, in itself, is beneficial. It keeps us from constantly doing errands. We leave behind the world as we know it and travel instantly to places we have never been and to places that may never have existed. This saves not only time, but also airfare. If you get lost, you can just go back a few pages and orient yourself. Unlike Television, which is anything but reflective, we can travel at our own pace and to wherever we want. On the way, we need not worry about hamburgers or our cars or whether we're on the correct long-distance plan.
Reading is a cooperative act. As a reader, you and the author together, design new buildings, create hairdos, and resolve conflict. You can toy with affections, fly an airplane, and outwit the enemy. You can help bake a cake, bait a hook, or beat the system. It's endless. Just when things seem to be falling into that ditch called Routine, you can revive yourself with a new adventure, a new skill, a new direction.
One of the few things from school that made a lasting impression on me was summer vacation. And when summer vacation was approaching, we would be presented with a reading list that contained suggestions of books of all sorts. This was the kind of homework assignment I could understand. No pressure - just suggestions. No tests. No reports. Just the pursuit of knowledge and happiness.
Teachers, freed from the daily restraints of the school system and the need for discipline, seemed to finally relax. They included books that they liked. Old favorites. Books that were important to them as people, not just as teachers. Reading the list excited me. All those possibilities.
Any list of books can only be a partial list. the ones that come to mind at the moment. The ones that have made themselves known. The ones that have jumped off the shelf this afternoon. The lists on the other page may be of interest to you.
Remember - No pressure, no tests, and no reports.
Reading is an infinite activity. Some books can help our writing by showing us how someone else has done it. Some can be directly instructive
On this page, I am including a list and description of books that writers involved with the school may find interesting and helpful.
I am providing a link to amazom.com, not to be completely commercial, but because this can make the process of obtaining the books easier and faster. There are all kinds of books that deal directly with the subject of writing. Here, in no particular order, are some that I have found interesting and valuable.
Becoming a Writer - Dorothea Brande
Aspects of the Novel - E. M. Forster
The Sounds of Poetry - Robert Pinsky
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular - Rust Hills
A Poetry Handbook - Mary Oliver
A Writer's Time - Kenneth Atchity
The Writing Life - Annie Dillard
Woe Is I - Patricia O'Connor
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire
The Writer's Digest Guide to Good Writing
The Triggering Town - Richard Hugo
100 Things Every Writer Needs To Know - Scott Edelstein
Writing For Your Life - Deena Metzger
One Continuous Mistake - Gail Sher
How To Read a Poem - Edward Hersch
Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
Cosmicomics Italo Calvino
3 Plays - Thornton Wilder
A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway
Harold and the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson
A Prayer For Owen Meany - John Irving
Alba - Delacorta
Sixty Stories - Donald Barthelme
Wise Children - Angela Carter
Hotel Eden - Ron Carlson
Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazzard
The Horse's Mouth
Weather Central - Ted Kooser
Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing - John Gierach
The Mezzanine - Nicholson Baker
My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
Buddhism - Plain and Simple - Steve Hagan
Pigs Have Wings - P. G. Wodehouse
Mysteries and Manners - Flannery O'Connor
Collected Poems - Kenneth Patchen
Fires - Raymond Carver
War and Peace - Tolstoy, Trans- Constance Garrett
The Incredible Voyage
So Long, See you Tomorrow
Crow With No Mouth - Ikkyu
Steppin' Out - Astaire Sings - Fred Astaire
Today - Art Pepper
Jerry Garcia Band
Louis Prima Hits
12 Shades of Brown - Junior Brown
Buena Vista Social Club
Quanta - Gilberto Gil
True Life Blues - The Songs of Bill Monroe
Shot of Love - Bob Dylan
World Out of Time - The Music of Madagascar
Knockdown Calypsos - Growling Tiger
Temptation's Greatest Hits