Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading Outside My Reading List

One of the interesting things about creating a reading list is how many books I've immediately thought about adding to the list. Since I have several quick airplane trips coming up in February, and since I usually get a lot of reading done on a plane, I just ordered some books, some on the list, some not.

I ordered 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein after reading this review in The Washington Post. I confess that this book was already on my radar screen after hearing it reviewed (on Fresh Air? I'm pretty sure it was that NPR show). The Washington Post review made it sound like this book should be on my list for so many reasons: I love books about campus life, I love witty satire, I love books that dance with theology in a smart way. So, soon, this book will be on its way to me.

And if I like this book, the author has written several others. When I was young, I delighted in discovering authors with a long track record. So often I would fall in love with a writer early in his/her writing life, and it seemed like such a LONG time to wait until the next book appeared. Now, of course, the years zoom by, and the next book appears before I have time to read the last book. Sigh.

I'm tempted to add the Patty Smith memoir Just Kids to my list after reading this review by Elizabeth Hand in yesterday's The Washington Post. Hand says, "More than a 1970s bohemian rhapsody, "Just Kids" is one of the best books ever written on becoming an artist -- not the race for online celebrity and corporate sponsorship that often passes for artistic success these days, but the far more powerful, often difficult journey toward the ecstatic experience of capturing radiance of imagination on a page or stage or photographic paper."

Wow. One of the best books ever written on becoming an artist--well, that sentence will be the one that steers me to this book. That theme is one of my perennial favorites.

I often don't bother reading the books of authors who have been making the NPR rounds. By the time I've heard them interviewed on several shows, when I start reading the book, I feel like I've already read it. But perhaps I'll make an exception for this one. It's by the godmother of punk, after all.

So, here's a question for the day: if you were going to birth a movement (or be godparent to it), what would that movement look like? Let us all begin writing our manifestos! Or would it be the kind of movement that wrote manifestos?

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