Though summer dies, our reading lists live on
Didja hear the good news? School started today!
Credit: Anne Taintor, patron saint of the first day of school
AT LAST I can get some reading (and writing) done!
In the summertime, most people read mysteries, fluffy romances, and “triumph of the human spirit” memoirs by washed-up celebrities. I also hear that dirty books have been invented out of whole cloth by some pseudonymous Twihard, which must really piss off Jackie Collins.
Me? I’ve been plowing through a lot of books about death.
If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! by Sheldon B. Kopp
This caught my eye in the piles at Value Village because it sports possibly the ugliest cover in the history of the written word. You don’t need me to tell you that its publication date is 1974, a truly dark year in Western design culture. Normally I am loathe to read self-help books written before the Clinton years, but so far this one is pretty swell. Here’s one of Sheldon Kopp’s koans: “we are all already dying and we will be dead for a long time.” That’s the kind of reality check I need when my crazy children are trying to convince me that setting the alarm clock for six a.m. to catch the bus on time the first day is The Worst Thing Ever.
Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
To the person who left this book in the Little Free Library on Park Avenue and East 58th Street: thank you. THANK YOU. I love it, though it’s really too smart for me. I can’t describe it better than the blurb from the Philadelphia Inquirer that graces the back cover: “a delicious mix of personal reminiscence, family history, literary criticism, and philosophical speculation.” And lots and LOTS of brooding about death. And God, and the lack thereof. Speaking of such things…
Atheist Voices of Minnesota: An Anthology of Personal Stories, edited by Bill Lehto
See anything interesting on that cover, folks? Look closely, over on the lower right hand corner. BAM! I was happy to learn that my essay “An Atheist Grieves” (YES OF COURSE IT’S ABOUT DEATH) was selected for inclusion in this new anthology, but I was totally gobsmacked to see my name on the cover, especially in the company of beloved Minnesota blogger PZ Myers. But the less-famous writers have impressed me too. I loved Jennifer Zimmerman’s “Birth, Rebirth,” a piece that elegantly contrasts her dogma-free homebirth with the trauma of delivering her first child into a fundamentalist system in which women are given none of the credit and all of the blame.
How does YOUR end-of-summer reading list look? Do you have room for your OWN copy of Atheist Voices of Minnesota? Check in with me after Labor Day for your chance to for a chance to win the book, donated by the good people at Freethought House.
I’ll even autograph it for you, and I promise I’ll write something more cheerful than “We’re all gonna die! Your pal, Shannon Drury.”