Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Books and Sex

Many of us blog from time to time about what's on the nightstands (or, in my case, in the bookshelf) next to our beds.

This entry is a slightly, but only very slightly, different version. This morning the priest who's guiding me through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises suggested that I read T. S. Eliot's play, The Cocktail Party. So I came home at lunch to find it. I figured there must be a Complete Works or Plays or something of Eliot upstairs and that I could put my hands right on it.

As I started rummaging through the library bookshelves, I came across all sorts of long-forgotten books, and I decided it was time for a new list. Where to begin? There are 36 shelves full of books up there, many of them double-stacked. Today's choices: the middle four books from each of the shelves behind the glass doors. (Yeah, it's an old house, remember?)

Poems of Anne Bradstreet -- marked January, 1973; Providence, Rhode Island. It must be from my American Poetry class in my junior year of college.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist who writes about her personal experience with bipolar disorder. My great-grandmother, for whom I am named, suffered from the same incursion into her mind, and I think I purchased this book at a time when I thought someone else in the family might be similarly plagued. (No, not me.)

The Magic Years by Selma Fraiberg. I picked up this classic of child psychiatry when my children's preschool teacher told me I needed to read about Laughing Tiger.

Something in the Water by Peter Scott, my daughter's AP English teacher. A novel set along the coast of Maine when German U-boats roamed the North Atlantic. I read it after a trip to Maine, so the landscape was emminently familiar.

The Wrong Stuff: The Adventures and Mis-Adventures of an 8th Air Force Aviator by Truman Smith. That one belongs to one of my sons, who started to learn to fly in high school.

Lenten Lands by Douglas H. Gresham. C.S. Lewis's stepson's story of his childhood.

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith. My daughter stayed home for school in 5th grade.

Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner. I suppose all teachers have read this one by now.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. One way to learn about medieval cathedral building!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Published 1994 -- I was reading Anne Lamott on writing long before she got famous on Christianity.

Bone Deep in Landscape: Writing, Reading, and Place by Mary Clearman Blew. My three favorite subjects. And what incredible powers of organization I have -- two books about writing right next to each other.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. A seemingly untouched volume.

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard. I think I'll keep this one out.

The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse. This looks like a very young reader's book. Probably my daughter's.

Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. No doubt from a college anthropology and women's studies course. See, this is why I save everything. I should reread this right now and so, probably, should we all.

Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. Where on earth did this come from? Aha -- the margin notes are all in the lovely daughter's handwriting. I knew I could fit sex into this entry somehow.

"Experience, though noon auctoritee
Were in this world, is right ynogh for me
To speke of wo that is in mariage. . . ".

And with that, I will simply note that I never did find the Eliot play that started all this, which apparently is also about "wo in mariage," and many other things besides, as is Brokeback and pretty much anything else worth reading.

Oh, and I did find Annie Proulx's Close Range on the same set of bookshelves. But not in the middle.


emmapeelDallas said...

This is a great list. I have two of the books on it: Great Expectations, and Selma Fraiburg's The Magic Years, a wonderful book that I read when my girls were 4 and 1.


Paul said...

The Wife of Bath knew the truth: some vessels are made of wood, but serve their master well.

Close Range? Well, Brokeback, of course, but how about that Half-skinned Steer? And then on to Bad Dirt.

You dinna seem to like my short story much. Or was it a memoir? Someone get Oprah.

lightyears2venus said...

My husband has been recommending An Unquiet Mind to everyone for the past year or so, so that title leaped off the list at me. Last weekend I went to an open house and an unusual, older-style ice bucket on the buffet table was identical to mine. My sister found mine at a second hand store years ago and the hostess rooted out hers at a yard sale. It's that same shock of recognition to see a familiar, but lesser known title on someone else's book list. And what a list! Your library sounds amazing. BTW another book my husband touts which I think you might find interesting is The Comfortable Pew by Pierre Berton. *debbi*