I promised to put together a reading list based upon the books and authors I heard cited at the Festival of Faith and Writing 2014. I've organized the list list into four categories: books about writing, works of fiction, books about faith, other non-fiction, and poetry and poets. The list that follows is only partially annotated because there were SERIOUSLY a LOT of books and authors mentioned. I got tired of annotating and linking. Sorry.
Books about writing
Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction
--This is a college textbook. Interestingly, Amazon only offers an option to rent the book for a semester; it's not available for purchase new. You can buy a used copy on Amazon for $43.98, or on EBay for $52.89.
Kenneth Burke, Permanence and Change; A Grammar of Motives.
--the latter work offers the dramatistic pentad, a model for analyzing narratives to understand human motivations and predict behavior. The five rhetorical elements include act, scene, agent, agency (or method or means), and purpose (or motive).
A]ny complete statement about motives will offer some kind of answer to these five questions: what was done (act), when or where it was done (scene), who did it (agent), how he did it (agency), and why (purpose)." -Kenneth Burke
--Mr. Peevie presciently gave me The Writing Life for Christmas, so I will be starting there.
Sol Stein, On Writing
Just reading the description of On Writing from Stein's own website makes me want to drop everything and read it, and while I'm reading it, start revising my novel-in-progress.
Works of fiction
Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman
--I think I need to read more Margaret Atwood.
Raymond Carver*, Cathedral Stories,*, especially the short story A Small Good Thing; What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
--Carver's name was invoked at least three times during FFW.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
--I'm embarrassed that I have not read this yet, and I just downloaded it to my Kindle for zero dollars and zero cents.
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
--If it took Harold Bloom three times to make it all the way through Blood Meridian, I don't hold much hope for my own ability to do so any time in the next century. But it's on the list anyway, because Bloom says McCarthy "has attained genius with that book."
Flannery O'Connor*, the short stories Good Country People and Revelation
--I have the complete short stories downloaded to my Kindle and ready for my summer beach reading; and I just read Good Country People for free here. Read Revelation for free here.
William Faulkner, Barn Burning, A Rose for Emily
Read Barn Burning for free here. Read A Rose for Emily for free here.
Ernest Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber
Khaleid Hosseini, The Mountains Echoed
Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
--Here's a switch: instead of reading it, listen to it!
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace
--You probably read this one in high school, but in case you want to refresh your memory, you can read it online here.
John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums
Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych
Anne Tyler, The Beginner's Goodbye
Books about faith
--There are 68 publications listed on his Wikipedia page; where is a beginner to begin? That's not a rhetorical question, Internet.
--You can (sort of) read The Temple, Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations online--but you may need a stronger prescription in your glasses when you're done. It might be worth it.
Julian of Norwich
--Read the complete Revelations of Divine Love online here, as well as excerpts from the Revelations.
Denys Turner, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism
--From the Amazon book description: Turner "argues that the distinctiveness and contemporary relevance of medieval mysticism lies precisely in its rejection of 'mystical experience,' and locates the mystical firmly within the grasp of the ordinary and the everyday." A quick look tells me I'll need to read it with my dictionary at hand.
Andrew Krivak, A Long Retreat
Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
Walker Percy*, The Second Coming
Teresa of Avila
Henry David Thoreau
--I read Thoreau's essay The Last Days of John Brown because FFW speaker James McBride's new book, National Book Award Winner The Good Lord Bird tells John Brown's story from a brand-new perspective. I was delighted to see Thoreau refer to his neighbors as pachydermatous--which he used in reference to the thickness of their heads, not their skin. Awesome.
Mary Karr, Lit, The Liar's Club
--Stephen King wrote this about Mary Karr's writing: "I was stunned by Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality--she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years."
Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Rural Life
--Interesting. The Rural Life is a weekly column in the New York Times about life on a farm and boots getting stuck in mud and stuff. Some people think it's a little pretentious and condescending.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Ron Padgett, Center of Gravity
Lucy Shaw, The Crime of Living Cautiously
So now we have a reading list for the next two years--until FFW 2016 gives us another one.
Which of these books and authors have you already read? Which are you going to look for the next time you head to Myopic? (Shout out to M. Peevie--that's her favorite bookstore.)
I'm starting with Flannery O'Connor.