Read Books and Live Well, part 2

by Edie Wadsworth on July 31, 2012

Some of you asked what’s on the proverbial night stand.  Be careful what you wish for……..

Flannery O’Connor once got a letter complaining that her writing was not ‘uplifting’ enough. The reader was tired of the dark themes and twisted characters. This was O’Connor’s reply,

“There is something in us, as story-tellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least must be offered the chance to be restored.  The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it.   His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether and so he has forgotten the price of restoration.”



In a larger sense, the stories and essays that we’ve gotten from the greatest authors have come to them at great price.  I live and die by their books—by the hard fought words of someone else.  All day, I hear the drone of culture and the drivel  of my own self-centered voice in my head and I know that I am impoverished.  I don’t have the right words and so I need to borrow them from someone else—–from someone who has read better books ,  lived in a saner time and has paid a steep price for the kernels of truth they so generously share.  The words of my favorite authors color my world and wipe away the fog that our modern, consumerist society has accepted as the new status quo.   I think Flannery O’Connor was right.  We have forgotten the cost of redemption.

Perhaps the masters will help us remember.

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My current stack is influenced by the Circe Conference speakers and by our study of the Ancients this year in our homeschool.  Some of these books, I will read from cover to cover.  Some I will start and never finish.  Some will so capture my imagination that I will read the same chapter or even the same sentence over and over again.  I don’t follow hard and fast rules when I read.  But I’m thirsty for words that aren’t my own.

Here’s my latest reading list.  Hope you find something helpful for your own journey.

1. Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays  Wendell Berry

2.Leisure: The Basis of Culture

3.Flannery O’Connor : Collected Works : Wise Blood / A Good Man Is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear It Away / Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays & Letters (Library of America)

4.The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950 T.S. Eliot

5. The Prince and the Pauper (Dover Thrift Editions)

6.The Complete Aeschylus: Volume I: The Oresteia (Greek Tragedy in New Translations)

7.The Catcher in the Rye  J.D. Salinger

8.Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education  James Daniels

9.The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis Leon Kass

10.The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories

11.The Problem of Suffering: A Fathers Hope

12.The Homeric Hymns

13.The City of God  Augustine

14.The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do with the Other

15.The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition

16.Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book  Walker Percy

17.Standing by Words: Essays  Wendell Berry

18.The Odyssey

19.Mind of the Maker  Dorothy Sayers

20.Wild Iris

Someone mentioned that maybe we should have an online book club? Whatcha think?  Would you be willing to read the classics with me?   We could be geeks together.    We could have our own cheer and make homemade shirts?  No?  Book worms have more fun :)

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marian July 31, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I think yes!

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2 michele July 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm

If you have a book club, count me in.

My swoony bust of Odysseus stands guard over our piano and there isn’t a day I’m not meditating on the words of Homer, or Tolkien, or Lewis, or Spurgeon.
xomichele

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3 Rhonda Angeletti July 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Edie,
I am so intrigued by your blog and your words..they echo through my mind and I wish I really understood them! :) I was so impressed by your response on why you wouldn’t read “fifty shades”, I had not been able form a response myself about why I don’t read books like that but your words captured exactly what I had in mind. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I love your blog and am so happy that you are in a new home! By the way, why do you teach latin in your homeschool? I feel like I’m missing out on something. :)

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4 Upscale Downhome July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I’d love to be a part of your book club. I’ve always wanted to read the classics and have dabbled but would love to jump in the deep end of the pool!

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5 becky July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

if i was in your book club you’d kick me out. i couldn’t even get through the first few pages of to kill a mockingbird. which i hear is awesome;) i’m just not a heavy deep reader…these seem challenging. you go girl. wish i could keep up with the deep. btw i’m so proud that you said you weren’t reading that 50 shades book. i’ve had to make a stand in our bookclub and say no to the smut too. it’s just not what we need to be filling our minds with. ‘nough said! this after i half way read through the girl with the dragon tatoo. mercy!

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6 Ami Davis July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

There’s a commercial out at the moment with a guy who decides to go for a run and streams an audiobook of The Odyssey and runs until it’s complete. Then he starts another book.
I always think of your when I see it. :)

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7 Cheri July 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Books YES! Shirts, no………

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8 Southern Gal July 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Yes, please!

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9 chrissy July 31, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Im in

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10 Celeste July 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Wendell Berry, Augustine, T.S. Eliot, Walker Percy, et al: this is “high cotton”…and much needed in what I see as the disturbing “dumbing down of America”. Oh, dear, I sound my age and I’m a positive personal. Let’s make that “positive realist”. Love the direction this is taking.

Just read this two nights ago: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2012/07/praying-the-divine-office-with-flannery-oconnor/

Thought of these words by Miss O’Connor: “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. That is a large statement, and it is dangerous to make it, for almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But approaching the subject from the standpoint of the writer, I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.”

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11 Marie at the Lazy W July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Brilliant. LOL I realize this is serious business, but you made me laugh out loud anyway. ; ) Just the fierceness and swiftness of those words, “freak” and “whole.” Well written, thanks for sharing!

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12 Sharon O July 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Her quote actually fits with my ‘blog’ today. I think redemption… is a word we don’t often think about.

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13 Wanda July 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Edie, in the months I have been reading your blog I have paid close attention to your reading list and it has inspired me to enhance my focus out of the easy “beach” reads and return to more classical and thought provoking literature. I would love to be a part if an online reading club!

The words you have left me with though,” I am thirsty for words that are not my own”, are words I have been searching for for a long time. You have put my thoughts in print and I am grateful to you for helping me find it.

Bless you!

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14 Brenda M. August 1, 2012 at 5:55 am

Wanda, I agree. I felt like I had been socked in the gut (needed it!) after reading that paragraph. I was just thinking that I crave the encouragement of a book club or even a college class to begin reading again (well, “real” books). A book club with everyone here would be AMAZING. I’m in!

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15 Wanda August 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Brenda, then we are soul sisters, my dear!

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16 Andrea July 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Yes, I would love to be in an online book club…..a couple of months and swim season starts….I gotta have something to read at those swim meets!
Andrea
AndeM1@hotmail.com

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17 Matilda Joyce July 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm

1. I will be in your book club or any other club you create.
2. I LOVE Patheos! 2 of my friends helped start it.
3. I love the rich sharing of prayer tradition between the different Christian sects, as the article cited above by Celeste described.
Count me in! I will read anything.

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18 Julie July 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I would love to read along! just hope I can keep up!

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19 Christi {Jealous Hands} July 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Oh, I am DEFINITELY in! :-)

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20 Marie at the Lazy W July 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

YES to the online book club!! I crave the classics and some instructional stuff in the worst way. I see many seriously good titles here for adding to my list, love that you have so much Wendyll Berry too. : )

I agree, we have in many ways forgotten the cost of redemption, all over our culture, regarding faith but even more than that. For this and other reasons it’s wise to look for what is time tested, what stands and shines through the brackish waters.

But you have great words too, Edie! We read your blog for more than the lovely photos. XOXO

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21 KTG July 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Yes I would join your book club!
I’m still trying to get through Don Quijote and then Pilgrim’s Progress is next on my list.
I wish I could move faster on the old testament but I’m only at Ester after a few years at it.
You are the perfect person to inspire me. And just this evening I declared August no TV month please.

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22 Tracey July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I am in!!!

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23 Julia July 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm

iuncta iuvant… :-)

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24 Ruth July 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm

An online book club-reading the classics-would be sensational!! I have frequently wished for it. I have always looked to your book lists for inspiration. This culture Has truly forgotten the cost of redemption. I look forward to discussing the classics and grasping a better understanding of them.
Hugs

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25 Cary July 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Count me in!!!

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26 Emily July 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Yes please!

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27 Holly August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am

Online book club – YES!

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28 Amber August 1, 2012 at 6:15 am

I’m in!

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29 tara lowry August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

I’ll be in your book club.
I’ll be the one with bells on and a big bow in her hair. :)

What are we starting with?

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30 Jennifer August 1, 2012 at 8:29 am

Count me in for a book club!

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31 mypatsyann August 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

I don’t enjoy F. O’Connor while I’m reading it. It’s just not nice. But it sticks with me, and I keep thinking about it after I’m done. So it’s important and valuable, I think. In this country, we like to read for entertainment. But we also need to feed our souls and sharpen our minds. If a book can do all of those things at the same time, then great. O’Connor doesn’t do all of it for me, but like a precious friend, she can do at least one of these things really well, so her work is worthwhile and I’m grateful for it.

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32 tara August 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

book club? yes, please!

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33 Kathy Frein August 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

Definitely yes. My brain needs nourishing food…not pablum.

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34 michelle@Life on the Funny Farm August 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

Oh I love books. I’d rather spend money on books than anything else. I don’t have a kindle and I’m not sure that I want one because there is nothing like holding a book, turning it’s pages, underlining passages, and writing thoughts in the margins. No, I won’t get a kindle; I want to hold a book. I am currently reading Assumptions That Affect Our Lives by Dr. Christian Overman.

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35 Asiyah August 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in a book club. (I draw the line at Harlequin-esque type of nonfiction romance. lol!)

Count me in!

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36 Becky August 1, 2012 at 9:51 am

Three cheers for the online book club! Count me in!

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37 Kaye @House on Oak Street August 1, 2012 at 11:36 am

Edie, you have challenged me to push myself beyond what I am comfortable with! Thank you for sharing your “stack”! Soon…

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38 Mary August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

Yes, to the book club!

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39 Amber August 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

i absolutely say YES to the book club. i’ve read some classics, and desire to read more. i think reading with others, along with some guidance, is perfect.

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40 Candi August 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I’ve been wanting to join a book club for so long, but I am struggling with finding one in my area! This would be perfect!!!

If you need any help getting this thing going, I’d be more than happy to help!

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41 Nena August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Yes, Yes, Yes!

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42 Gevay August 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I’d be in your book club and I’d even proudly wear a shirt!

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43 Michelle August 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I’d be in for a book club!

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44 SherrieB August 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Prob one of my favorite posts ever from you. Love your paragraph under the photo. Love.

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45 the farmer's wife August 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I say YEA! to the online book club. That sounds like fun if it creates more fun than work for you : )

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46 Beth August 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Flannery O’Connor’s letters are amazing. Your appetite will be whetted, as mine was, with the collected works book you have, and then you will have to get The Habit of Being, which is a collection of most of her letters. You will LOVE that book. She is just my favorite person, and I cannot wait to meet her in Heaven! And I would adore an online book club!

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47 Pat August 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Add me to the group, too, please.

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48 Robin August 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

As a homeschooling mom who loves to spend my nights reading for myself. I think an online book club is a great idea!

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49 Denice Erway August 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Please say you will! I so long for a book club.

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50 Judith August 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I vote yes to all of the above! Book club, t-shirts, and a cheer. Hitch kicks, too. ;)

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51 Becky August 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I would do it, for sure! Rereading Tolkien right now:)

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52 Sharee August 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Yes, please let’s do it! I have been wanting to read some classics…my daughter is starting kinder this year at a classical school. I wish I could go back and redo my whole education career and experience the classical education.

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53 Jennifer August 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

Yay! And, yes….yes…I would love to join in on your online book club and read classics with some blogging friends. Hope you decide to do it….

blessings,
jennifer

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54 sarah August 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Edie, I really want an online bookclub with the substance of reading of which you speak. You are just the one to start it. Count me IN. I’m never able to find people reading the sort of stuff I’m reading. Right now it’s Crime and Punishment, and I’ve a tall stack to follow. Would absolutely love to join with others who are steeping their minds in these great works. I read very widely.

Also, I think you should pick up “Island of the World” by O’Conner. It’s epic, devastating, a beautiful work. It’s 900+ pages but after reading it you cannot see the world the way you did before…

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55 Kathleen Jaeger August 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

“All day, I hear the drone of culture and the drivel of my own self-centered voice in my head and I know that I am impoverished. I don’t have the right words and so I need to borrow them from someone else—–from someone who has read better books , lived in a saner time and has paid a steep price for the kernels of truth they so generously share.”

Amen Sister!! Yes, and it just proves to me that I need to be reading more and reading better selections. I would be up for an on-line classics book club — I would prefer an IRL one but don’t know anyone around these parts that would like that. The beauty of the web!

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56 Julie August 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Count me in!

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57 Kathryn August 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

would love to be part of your book club – awesome idea :)

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58 Lori August 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

EDIE!!! I wanted the club…yay and yahoo. I knew your book list was awesome and you have the depth to lead one! Please add me to this list! I’m in. I can eat a piece of cake and drink large amounts of coffee with yummy cream and and pretend I’m in your pretty living room or kitchen talking about what moved me the most in the book. I’m so excited. Phil. 4:8 AND 9.

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59 laura August 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

Sometimes we wonder if an idea has merit so we dare to speak it out, and lo and behold, we get a outpouring of confirmation. Methinks that’s what’s happening with your book club idea. Perhaps a partnership of sorts with others who you know and trust so that it’s not all on you, but you hold the reins since where you lead we will follow. So, yes, yes, yes, and again yes, hitch- kicks, cute bags, good coffee, t-shirts, lipstick, a colorful pillow and cozy throw for the cool months, and books – glorious books!

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60 Becca August 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I would love to join in the book club. I don’t have a blog, so I don’t know if that will be a problem. Thanks for sharing your list. Becca :-)

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61 JennyBC August 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Book club! That would be wonderful to read the classics together!

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62 Marmee August 4, 2012 at 2:51 am

Count me in. Would love to go through one these titles community-style.

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63 {darlene} @ fieldstonehill August 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I am a “yes” if you go slow enough for I-dream-of-being-nerdier types like me!!!!!! love you!

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64 Kristi August 7, 2012 at 8:46 am

I would love to join the book club.

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65 Candice Waller August 8, 2012 at 3:27 am

I’d love to do a study of the classics! Let me know if you decide to make it happen:)

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66 Jen August 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I would absolutely join a book club for classics. I am swept away in the classics by the language and the culture, I find it fascinating. This is funny because in high school when I had to read them I was not interested, but last summer I picked up Wuthering Heights and fell in love with it. Currently I am reading Jane Eyre with the same fascination!!

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67 Ellen August 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

Yes to the bookclub!

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68 StacyAverette August 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

Edie, love your book list. You always inspire me to read more. I recently ran across Rumer Godden’s “A House with Four Rooms” and Gunilla Norris’ “Being Home: Discovering the Spiritual in the Everyday”. Have you read those? Waiting on the mail. Love when its a box of books!

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69 Marcia August 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Fantastic idea!

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