March 29, 2010

Ten Books Meme

Steven Riddle posted a meme concerning the "Ten Books That Most Influenced You". What books most influenced me? Sometimes just titles: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh had that sort of The-Man-Who-Knew-Too-Little cache for me as a collector of paradoxes and oxymorons. Then too the sweet tang of auld lang syne in Reveries of a Bachelor. I read Mysteries only, but both have titles that linger in my imagination and become larger.

Fujikama's anthology A Child's Book of Poems also immediately comes to mind, a tall folio full of color and imagination and delight. To open the book is to open a different world with poems full of extraordinary words such as Tennyson's 'azure' instead of blue, words that made me hungry for pyrotechnic at perhaps the cost of missing God in the whisper.

The Bible of course, with its endless mystery and great sea of wisdom, unwarranted consolations, dare-we-believe-it promises, well-deserved rebukes and preternatural knowledge of the human condition.

Thoreau's Walden was an influence for its scandalous claim that God loves all of his creation, including trees and lakes, fish and fowl, chipmonks and adders.

The Secret of the Rosary was a book so redolent of Catholic piety that it was practically my "bible" back in early adolescence.

Dinesen's Out of Africa because I've always been attracted to the elegiac, to the romanticism of past eras.

John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope simply for the humble act of the vicar of Christ answering the questions of a seeker, and answering them with such felicity.

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