Friday, May 04, 2007

Limitless Possibility

I probably had the strangest reason any teen ever had for wanting to get a driver's license.

My mom didn't take me to the library as often as I would have liked, so I saw a driver's license as a ticket to the library. OK, OK, I'm a geek, but so is my brother, because once I got my license I used it to bribe him. I could get him to do almost anything by promising a trip to the library.

I've come across a couple of quotes lately that make me feel my brother and I are not alone. If you are a reader, you may appreciate them too:
"I think libraries are a wealth of possible experiences, and you can choose among them. At the library, you can choose, you can find personal experiences, but you should do the choosing yourself, rather than have choices dictated to you. The library offers thousands of opportunities, wonderful experiences, several forms of happiness; or unhappiness, perhpas. There are a milion possibilities."

(spoken by Jorges Luis Borges 1983, Morgan Lecture at Dickinson College)
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry --
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll --
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul

(Emily Dickinson c. 1873)
POST SCRIPT: If you have gone on a literary journey lately that you've enjoyed, I'd sure love to hear about it -- always more than open to recommendations! Please feel free to share in the comments section.


Nethe said...

Uhh, books. Wonderful-wonderful.

My home town just had a population of about 40000 and it was in the "darkest" area in Denmark (rural, windy, sandy earth, near the dangerous west coast), but the library was fantastic. New, big, filled with art and books, and tapes, and records and kids movies. I grew up IN that place.

It’s so hard to pick out one book for recommendation... Let’s see.

I´ll stick to the english books I have read (and after University most of what I read is in english, if it´s not a scandinavian writer).

6 years ago I read "Undaunted courage" by Steven Ambrose. I still think a lot on that book, despite the enormous stacks of books I’ve devoured since then.

And the "Poison wood bible" by Barbra Kingsolver... That’s actually a horrible read, but I couldn’t put it down either.

I´ll think some more. Do you have any recomendations?

Heidi said...

Oh, Nethe, where to begin?!

My most recent fun read was "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger - quite an intriguing premise in that one - yet nice and light too.

I have read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver and LOVED it. I like everything I've read by her. I use the word "read" loosely, however, I actually listened to that one as a book on tape, which may have helped -- was fun to hear the pronunciation of the African language that was used -- so perhaps easier to listen to than read.

I love the classic novels from the 1800's - particularly those by Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson and Thomas Hardy and E. M. Forster.

If you read Hardy, DON'T read "Jude the Obscure." I wish I could get images from that book out of my head! I wish I didn't know the story. I wish I could forget it. I like all of his other work, though. I think my favorite is "Return of the Native."

Some of these books are a bit opaque because of the change in English language since that time, but I love them.

The Bronte's are my favorite - especially Emily - although the first time through Wuthering Heights can be daunting keeping all the characters straight (as well as the timeline), but it is my favorite book. I not only love their writing, but I love the story of the Bronte family.

Another book that has an odd style but I found to be very impacting is "A Prayer for Owen Meany." I haven't been able to get into other works by John Irving, but that's a definite favorite of mine - great ending.

I REALLY like Daphne du Maurier, particularly for "Rebecca" and "The House on the Strand."

Martha Beck's "Expecting Adam" was very life affirming.

I also enjoy a lot of fantasy and science fiction - Tolkien, of course, being my favorite there. I'm also a big fan of C. S. Lewis. I like Agatha Christie mysteries.

I also read a lot of non-fiction - mostly about mathematics, the history of mathematics, physics and also books that explore science and religion - could give some recommendations there too, but I think this comment is long enough!

Oh, and I also love history - particularly of the Tudor Dynasty in England.

I haven't read any Stephen Ambrose but have heard a lot of good things about him, so I will have to add "Undaunted Courage" to my list of things to read.

By the way, I just heard on the news that the happiest country in the world is Denmark. Did you come across that news? Would you agree?

Heidi said...

Wait, I've forgotten to list:

Farenheit 451


To Kill a Mockingbird

(and so many others!)

Also, we've just read a trilogy of children's books that our whole family LOVED. They are by Jeanne Duprau:

The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
The Prophet of Yonwood

I like anything apocalyptic like Huxley's "Brave New World" or "Children of Men" by P.D. James.

I'm so eager for summer to have more time to read - am only reading for classes this semester. I miss it!

Tess said...

I totally agree about books. As a child I spent so many happy hours in the library and the bookmobile when it visited our neighbourhood. First thing I did last year when we moved to the Coast was join the library :)

Thanks for visiting my blog! Glad to hear you're enjoying it.

As for literary journeys, I'm currently reading an interesting novel called Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. It appears to be shaping up into a reincarnation story and revolves around the Holy Grail, the Cathars and a labyrinth. A little slow at the start, but picking up speed now.

Tess said...

Oh, and I totally agree with you re du Maurier and Austen. My fave Hardys are Tess and Mayor of Casterbridge :)

Heidi said...

Wow! Labyrinth sounds great - and reminded me of a whole other genre I love: Arthurian tales. I particularly like Mary Stewarts series that begins with "The Crystal Cave." I also like Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mysts of Avalon." Then there are the related Tristan and Isolde tales - also very interesting.

Thanks for visiting and for your comments! I look forward to keeping up on your blog!

Heidi said...

Duh, I just realized in my first response I wrote Emily Dickinson rather than Emily Bronte!

I love the work of both of them so much that when I begin writing the name "Emily" the wrong last name might follow naturally!

Dickison, of course, wrote poetry. Bronte wrote a novel (and poetry).