Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Hardly needs annotating: the comparative mythology classic, massively influential on literary analysis. I’ve only read chunks of it, never the whole thing. I took a college course called “Men’s Images in Literature” which examined different roles and types of male protagonists, and it was one of the best classes I ever took. We read Hamlet, Goldfinger (yes, a James Bond book!), The Maltese Falcon, Bill Bradley’s autobiography, Malcolm X, and I’m trying to remember what else. I remember how disappointed I was the following year when, after a transfer to another college, I took a women’s lit course and it was nothing like the Men’s Images class. Instead of unpacking archetypes and discussing the nature of the hero (or heroine), the professor took us on a bitter, angry stroll through the Norton’s Anthology of Women’s Lit (which is full of amazing reading, by the way), expostulating upon the way in which each and every piece in the anthology demonstrated the oppression of women through the ages.
I have digressed. Anyway, my point was that my primary experience with the Joseph Campbell book was in the men’s images class, as we examined how the various heroes in our texts did or did not bear out Campbell’s ideas on the journey of the hero. I think we own the book because I always meant to read the whole thing at some point.
How the Irish Saved Civilization. I remember picking up this one as a freebie choice in a book club. Had heard much about it, and have continued to hear much about it over the years. And haven’t read it yet.
Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis. Scott brought this one to the party, if I recall correctly. Like the book above, I think it’s been on my TBR list for about fifteen years. Sheesh.
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor. This was required reading in one of my college creative writing classes, and I was blown away by it. It’s a collection of Flannery’s essays on writing and other topics. I think I like her essays better than her stories, to be perfectly honest.
Amo, Amas, Amat, and More. A collection of Latin words and phrases often used in English discourse, with succinct explanations of their meaning. A useful resource for those of us who did not study Latin in our youth.
The American Sign Language Phrase Book. Spine much creased from frequent use.
Women’s Work. I picked this up as a reference during the early days of my Martha & Charlotte research, then later met the author at a friend’s dinner party.
Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Fun collection of commonly used phrases which come from the Bard.
The Big Little Book of Irish Wit & Wisdom.
Little Book of Gaelic Proverbs. “A cat in mittens won’t catch mice.” “A ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the fiddler.” “Beauty won’t boil the pot.”
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Love, love, love.
BBC Music Guide: Mendelssohn Chamber Music. Say, this must be a Scott book!
Phantastes by George MacDonald, and next to it my ancient, raggedy copy of his The Golden Key and Other Stories. Ah yes, now we’re coming into a section of favorite children’s classics (interspersed with other odds and ends). Gosh, I loved The Golden Key. I see it in frequent circulation among the kids these days, too.
Black Beauty. Copy from used book store: I’ve never read it.
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Board book version: what’s it doing on that shelf? Too high for little people to reach.
Mitten Strings for God. Newish, haven’t read it yet.
Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. Lots of fun.
On the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald.
The Light Princess, George MacDonald. Detect a theme?
What do you know! The Complete Fairy Tales of…George MacDonald!
Now comes a full set of Little House books. Laura’s, that is. This is the fancypants edition with the nice slick paper and the (sob) colorized Garth Williams art. My sweet editor used to send me a new set every time Harper came out with a reissue. We have a good many sets scattered around this house…
The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. You can read it for free at The Baldwin Project.
The Odyssey for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. Ditto.
Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre. Terrific little paperback how-to-draw manual.
An unnamed songbook full of hymns and folk song lyrics with chord changes.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
Stray hardcover copy of The Road from Roxbury.
My Father’s Dragon and Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Favorite series of every six-year-old to grow up in this family so far.
The Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber. Another Baldwin Project book.
Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield.
And a lovely hardcover copy of The Wind in the Willows. Phew. That was quite a shelf.
Click the “one shelf at a time” tag for the first three shelves.
Writing for a Living: Q & A
december 2: my annual Hanna post
Recently Read or Watched with Various Kids
Mr. Fleischman’s Wonderful McBroom