ART // JOURNALS // FICTION // OTHER
V. On Art and being an Artist
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield, 2002, 165 pages ***
Beate Not the Poore Desk, Walter Wangerin, Jr. 2016, 141 pages ***
The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron. 1992, 217 pages *****
Julia invites one into the community of artists with arms open wide. She offers belonging and belief to anyone doubting, smoldering, or paralyzed about being an artist. The best thing Julia offers me weekly (I bought her whole trilogy compilation and am currently working through the second book) is that she seems, eerily to know a whole lot of what I’m thinking and she steadily encourages, draws out, and challenges me as an artist. The Artist’s Way is essential reading for anyone who has a sense that any sort of creative work might be their calling, but that that creative work is utterly outrageous, irresponsible, or impossible for them to do.
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott. 1994, 237 pages ****
VI. Non-fiction journals of writers I love
The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle. 1974, 245 pages ****
A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis. 1961, 151 pages ****
Dark, brooding, and fantastically honest, I absolutely loved this little scrap of Lewis’ journal following the death of his not-long wife, Joy.
The Human Factor, Graham Greene. 1978, 302 pages ****
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene. 1951, 238 pages ****
The Accidental Tourist, Ann Tyler. 2002, 352 pages ****
A brilliant caricature of what it must be like to live inside the brain of an Enneagram 5? (I can only guess! But it made me appreciate and have more grace toward e5, either way. Would any of my Enneagram 5 friends/readers want to read this book and let me know if it resonates with them?? You can write your response in binary to me, if needed. 😉 )
Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry. 2004, 190 pages ****
This was the first Wendell Berry book I ever read. It is written in first person through the eyes of Hannah Coulter, telling her story of life and family, of farm and place. Her story was imperfect and beautiful and redemptive. My overall feeling from this book was that of being sublimely grounded. It was my first Wendell Berry but it will not be my last.
Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis. 1956, 313 pages ****
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver. 1998, 544 pages ****
I think 68% of Americans must have read this book much nearer to the time of its publication. I was in the other 32%. (I prefer to make a book prove its validity by sticking around for several decades — at least.) Anyway, I read this with a group of friends. Kingsolver’s character development, telling her story from five different first-person perspectives, was stunningly well-done. She championed women in a special way, she painted a fascinating picture of humanity and their diverse transformation potentials, and she shut my mouth and made me grateful for the life of comfort I lead every single day. She also made me think a lot about parenting… about childhood being something white people made up and tacked onto the first part of life.
Ishmael, Daniel Quinn. 1992, 263 pages *****
This book was explicably a passing along of a philosophy of origins and culture, sociology and anthropology. (It has no plot to speak of, and was not written to be impressive literature or beautiful art. It is comprised primarily of a back and forth dialogue between a teacher and a student.) But I love having my brain blown up every now and then, listening to how others think and see the world, and for that: Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael does not disappoint. Quinn examines the mythology of western culture (“What mythology?” doubts the student.)– the stories we tell ourselves and our children about how the world began and why everything is as it is. He explores many varying themes, but weaves them all together in what I thought was a very cohesive and relatively easy to understand web. Fascinating, brain-expanding, thought-provoking.
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson. 2004, 282 pages *
The Queue, Basma Abdel Aziz. 2016, 224 pages *
The Gospel According to Mark, James R. Edwards. 2002, 508 pages ***
Mark for Everyone, N. T. Wright. 2001, 226 pages ***
The Rule of St. Benedict, St. Benedict. circa 540, 96 pages **
What is the Bible? Rob Bell. 2017, 336 pages ***
The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer. 1998, 183 pages ***
Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle. 2011, 212 pages *