Sunday, July 26, 2009


Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose.

The order of titles is of no significance whatsoever.

Well, the first 15 that come to mind... and leaving out the ones I have worked on or the ones about my tribe... I know there are lots more, and maybe some even more important, but this is what comes to mind right now:

1. The Bible (I read it still pretty often)
2. Never Cry Wolf (Farley Mowat)
3. Sand County Almanac (Aldo Leopold)
4. Ceremony (Leslie Marmon Silko)
5. The Sacred (Anna Lee Walters and Peggy Beck)
6. The Sneetches (Dr. Seuss)
7. Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse)
8. Hostage to the Devil (Malachi Martin)
9. Dialogues with the Devil (Taylor Caldwell)
10. Grimm's Fairy Tales (complete)
11. The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation (The Findhorn Community)
12. Desert Solitaire (Edward Abbey)
13. Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
14. Black Elk Speaks (John Neihardt)
15. Little Big Man (Thomas Berger)

Lance Michael Foster

Today I’m going to cheat. In lieu of thinking up a subject, I’m going to use Lance’s meme. Normally I don’t like memes, because they come from that pesky approach to blogging that treats it like a parlor game and assumes that the whole point of writing is creating a “friends” network as though the world were Facebook. I’m developing a real hot button about people who assume blogging is not really writing and publishing. Not disciplined, not necessary, not paid and therefore not worth anything.

There’s an additional problem with this particular meme, which is a list of memorable books from over the years, because it is so easy to say, “Omigod! You read THAT? You value THAT piece of shallow trash?” I’ve never gotten over a telephone conference call interview from the Unitarian church in Davis, CA. It was a “first cut” for a candidate list for their pulpit. One of the members asked what my five most favorite books were. I told him (what choice did I have except to say I wouldn’t?) and his response was “Oh, no, you shouldn’t read THAT! Read THIS!” At that point they came off MY candidating list. Just another set of bullies.

But I like Lance and my guest just left, so it will take me a day to recover my train of thought and catch up on sleep and find all the misplaced things. To compromise I won’t tag others -- tag your own darn self.

Here’s my list:

1. Parlicoot: An English storybook for kids about a little creature who is unique but lonely for a playmate just like himself.

2. Riders of the Purple Sage: I love the Ed Harris movie, too. And even though Zane Grey turned out not to be (ahem) shall we say, not exactly Lassiter, the whole genre, but particularly that first book, deeply influenced me.

3. The Boy and his Dog Are Sleeping: Nasdijj turned out to be Timothy Patrick Barrus. I’m not shocked and, in fact, Tim has become a close friend and co-writer.

4. Dirt: the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth (William Bryant Logan): This is a sort of foundational set of essays about ecology.

5. Doing Local Theology (Schreiter): Catholic theology at its best, demanding deep thought about just what the symbols and liturgies are REALLY about and then finding the same in other traditions.

6. The Sacred and the Profane (Mircea Eliade): A dependable war horse that one can always ride into battle.

7. This House of Sky (Ivan Doig): Hey, why do you think I’m living in Valier? (There are other reasons as well.)

8. The Snow Leopard (Peter Matthiessen): Perceiving the unseen in what is there.

9. Biography of a Grizzly (Ernest Thompson Seton): Did I tell you the working title of “Bronze Inside and Out: a Biographical Memoir of Bob Scriver” was “How I Slept with a Bear and Found God”?

10. The Princess and the Goblin (George McDonald): McDonald was a Universalist minister so marginalized by his beliefs that he had to write fairy tales to support his family. Too bad that’s no longer possible. In the meantime the princess was my model for ministry -- except that the thread didn’t go where I thought it would at all! Which was the point.

11. Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maude Montgomery): The story of that idealistic redhead is for me now suffused with the idealistic persistence of a woman who had a trapped life and finally escaped through suicide.

12. The Old North Trail (Walter McClintock): My favorite book about the Blackfeet. In the eyes of critics, sometimes it’s politically correct -- some times it isn’t. But it’s always authentic.

13. All the Little Live Things (Wallace Stegner): More autobiographical that some of Stegner’s other books, though all his novels are a little bit that way, mostly coming to terms with his father. (I should send one to Tim Barrus.

14. When the Legends Die (Hal Borland): I’ve read this book out loud to classes maybe half-a-dozen times. They remember it long after they’ve forgotten everything else. Me, too.

15. Any Wendell Berry poem, essay, novel. Sure, I know Patrick Burns ( got after us for thinking this stuff was realistic when it’s clearly fantasy to think we can all live happily with forty acres, a mule, and a good literary agent, but I love it all anyway. Except he really DID have to change his attitude about obliging wives meaning you don’t have to buy a computer.

That’s only 963 words, but sod it. Good enough for a July Sunday morning with the lawnmowers snarling everywhere.


Julie said...

A Wrinkle in Time, The Fountainhead, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, 1001 Arabian Nights, Linda Goodman's Sun Signs, The Nun's Story, Siddartha, The Story of O, Crime and Punishment, Story of a Soul (Autobiography of Therese of Lisieux), Ancrene Wisse, West of Jesus, Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life, Henderson: The Rain King, & The Soloist. None of these were school assigned readings.

Diggitt said...

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
A Forest Journey, by John Perlin
Collapse, by Jared Diamond
The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss
Half Magic & The Time Garden, by Edward Eager
Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy
Sherlock Holmes (everything together)
Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
William Bartram's Journals
Virginia Woolf's essays
Up Front, by Bill Mauldin
The Melendy Quartet, by Elizabeth Enright
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice
Albion's Seed, by David Hackett-Fischer
Mary Oliver's poetry, all of it

I am thrilled to find someone else who's read The Sneetches, much less loved it.

Vagabonde said...

Some of the books I can recall quickly are in French and I don’t know the titles in English:
Le Petit Prince, de Saint-Exupéry,
Le Grand Meaulnes, Alain Fournier,
Letters from Egypt, Lady Luce Gordon
Boujour Tristess, Françoise Sagan
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Les Allumettes Suedoises, Robert Sabatier
The House of All Sorts, Emily Carr
The Voyager Out, Virginia Woolfe
Cloud Hidden, Alan Watts
Walking in the footsteps of Buddha by by Thich Nhat Hanh
Le Deuxieme Sexe, Simone de Beauvoir
Our of Africa, Isak Dinesen,
Phra Parang, Peter Pannapadipo
My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David Neel
Round the Bend, Neville Shute
Prison Writings, Leonard Peltier
I think that is 16 though.

Vagabonde said...

I forgot to tell you that I just wrote a post about my visit to the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I don’t write as well as you so you may find many faults, and in the history too. If you care to look at it click on this was kind of long, so I’ll write more posts later on my stay there.

prairie mary said...

From Ray Djuff in Calgary, who writes about Glacier Park. (By permission -- he sent it via email.)

1: Kootenai Brown – His life and Times by William Rodney
2. Hollywood’s Canada by Pierre Berton
3. Eyeopener Bob by Grant MacEwan
4. The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell
5. The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill
6. The Murderers Among Us – Simon Wiesenthal
7. The Colditz Story by P.R. Reid
8. The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stefan Lorant
9. White Niggers of America by Pierre Vallieres
10. Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette
11. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
12. Nuttall’s Standard Dictionary (1936)
13. Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic (1947)
14. Many-splendored Glacierland by Warren Hanna
15. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Hope this gives you some insight. Probably a lot.

Art Durkee said...

Fifteen Books in Fifteen Minutes?

Whisky Prajer said...

I've been collecting titles from this exercise, and you've given me two: Local Theology and Sacred & Profane. My 15 are here.