One Shelf at a Time: Fourth Shelf

October 21, 2008 @ 2:13 pm | Filed under:

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.

Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature.

Socrates Cafe.

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.

Chesterton’s Heretics.

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.

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14 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Anna says:

    Goodness, I have so much I’d love to say!
    First: Boo to the Women’s Lit prof. Someone in my own life turned _The Red Tent_ into the same women’s oppression drivel and I was so disappointed. It’s a beautiful book about the way that women *support* each other!
    Love the Gaelic Proverbs.
    I really should read _Screwtape Letters_. Hmm.
    The Dragon books- I have a six year old who I’m trying to work into reading really good books. This may be a good start.
    When did your children read Wind in the Willows? Would it be a good read-aloud?

  2. Anna says:

    Ha! As I put _The Screwtape Letters_ into my TBR list, I realized that’s the one I have read already. _Mere Christianity._ So, I’m adding that to the TBR.

  3. mamacrow says:


    y’all drown in your tears!

  4. Melissa Wiley says:

    Re the My Father’s Dragon books: oh by all means give them a try! They are charming. And they were the books that catapulted Rose from just-beginning-to-sound-out into real, honest-to-goodness reading at age 5 and 1/2. I remember reading the first one aloud to her, and about halfway through she seemed to stop listening to the story b/c she was so busy scanning the page for words she knew–mostly the character names. When we got to the end, she wanted me to start right over at the beginning, so I did. And by the end, she was reading on her own. It was awesome.

    Re Wind in the Willows: deep chagrin here! NONE of my kids so far have enjoyed it as a read-aloud. It has bombed three times. I think Rose liked it pretty well on her own. Jane, not so much, as I recall, which is interesting considering her passion for all things Redwall (more talking animal adventures, with–forgive me, Jane love–clunkier writing). Maybe there wasn’t enough fighting evil enemies in WitW? (Cf. today’s post: my girls do love ’em some action!)

    And Mamalion, re Black Beauty/drowning in tears–you KNOW I’ll have to read it now, don’t you, just to see? LOL.

  5. Anna says:

    Well, darn. Maybe I’ll read WitW by myself!

    My Father’s Dragon is on the hold list at the library. I’m at the top, but it makes it easier to remember and faster to find!

  6. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh, don’t let US deter you from giving Wind in the Willows a try! Everyone else I know adores it. Dunno why it just didn’t click w/ my brood…to me, it seems so US.

  7. cici says:

    i didn’t really like WitW, either. FWIW.

    wanted to chime in with the hissing on women lit classes. My professor had a friend of mine in tears about Tess in Tess of the D’Ubervilles. My friend completely broke down in class about how much Hardy truly “loved” Tess and how the prof was mistaken about her as “the other”…took me awhile to come to grips with other female character books without reading into them “the other”…sheesh!

  8. cici says:

    oh – and thanks for the george macdonald…i’m running out of books for my 6.5 yo proficient reader…

  9. Anna says:

    Well, that is a good point. Thanks! I can’t wait to see more shelves!

  10. Meredith says:

    Am loving all your “shelf” posts, we have so many of the same šŸ™‚ Happy reading!

  11. emily says:

    I’d love to hear more about Don’t Know Much About History. For years I’ve felt like history is the one area in my education that was the weakest, and I’ve been looking for a book that is really “readable” but will help to fill me in on all of the history that I missed and/or forgot from my schooldays.

    Other suggestions are welcome!

  12. janewilk says:

    Oh, Mitten Strings for God is so wonderful. It looks like one of those sappy “women’s devotional” books, but it’s so NOT that! I loved it and found lots that resonated with me within it, especially when my daughter was very small. I hope you love it!

  13. Lori says:

    Emily, my son (a jr in high school) is reading Don’t Know Much About History this year in school…looks pretty good.

    I am doing US History with my 10 y.o. as well, and we are using This Country of Ours, which can be found online. I also enjoy the 4 volumes of Story of the World by Synge, which is at the Baldwin Project, too. Presented very “storytelling-ly”, but packed with interesting information and giving a good broad picture of history.

  14. Anna says:

    I came to bring a short update about My Father’s Dragon. The kids liked the first bit, at least. The best part about it is the Island of Tangerina, because my eldest has named one of our trees outside Tree-ah. šŸ™‚