Have you read…

When I was in college, one of my dorm mates had a line that would come out anytime the conversation took a turn to literary things.

“Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?”

It was 1984, and it’s likely there was some dark British pop music playing in the background and the air was filled with cigarette smoke.  Cigarettes were popular in some sections of my all-female dormitory and even in the jock-strap-filled all-male dormitory across the way.

My response to this one-trick pony was always, “yeah, it’s on my list” but I had no intention of reading Atlas Shrugged that semester.

Twenty-seven years later, I read Atlas Shrugged.

Last year, I read War and Peace.

I enjoy reading.  I don’t do enough of it when the daylight is long.  After “falling back” an hour and putting my garden to bed, I started thinking about the books I would like to read over the winter.  This year, in anticipation of possibly selling my condo and moving, I decided to pack up all of my books, with the exception of one small bookcase; I packed a total of 8 boxes of books.

My winter reading list is incomplete, but the following books have been selected, in no particular order:

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

Smoke by Ivan Turgenev

American Nations by Colin Woodard

On Writing by Stephen King

I need something big and epic; I’ve thought about Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy but I’m still not sure.

What one epic novel would you recommend I include on my winter reading list?

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3 Responses to Have you read…

  1. Positively 4th Street says:

    Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. In what obscure used bookstore did you find that in, under what pile? Straight out of my freshman year, 1980. I’d like it better if the title ran a tad longer, to include From Your Life. Everyone I showed it to replied, So, can’t you just turn the TV off? But I recall none of its arguments now, evidence less of my failing brain cells than of the weakness of its arguments, I think. Or at least declare.

    I’ve too many on my list to mention, but I can’t escape John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education. Oh, he pretends it’s about American Education, and nominally it is, but it is so so so so so much more. Without subtitling it “Everything You Think You Know About American History is Wrong,” it completely wrecked my convenient school-built understanding of how we Americans got to be who we are, kinda like a tornado through a Florida trailer park. Once read, nothing but nothing looks the same.

    Had I but world enough and time, as you apparently do now that the Green Man recedes deep into his lair, I would undertake Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope. Interestingly, Wikipedia articles about Quigley and Tragedy and Hope both omit the most important fact about him, that he was the only non-member of the Council of Foreign Relations ever to be allowed into its archives. Quigley was actually an advocate of this kind of one-world activism, seeing it as the “hope” of mankind, but he made the mistake of naming names in his book, which caused it first to go out of print, and then to disappear from library shelves all over the country. Quigley thought it a mistake that such a successful private group should remain hidden, and thought its role and successes in unifying the world under one government should be publicly recognized; it was only its secrecy that he objected to, not its goals. Those who wished to remain hidden, however, thought otherwise. Gatto praises it the way I praise Underground History, that’s enough for me.

    • Hello again, P4S!

      The Mander book was just sitting at a friend’s house in plain site! Was it part of an academic syllabus for you? If so, what class? Was it popular at that time in the same way Christopher Lasch’s “The Culture of Narcissism” was popular?

      OK, I’ll add Gatto to the pile for winter reading on your recommendation, but I’m not sure about Quigley.

      Thank you for raising the bar here at the Hampton Victory Garden!


  2. Positively 4th Street says:

    Mander’s book was in the bookstore and I believe new at the time (you can check the published date), I don’t think you could say it was popular at all. I was already opposed to TV and I suppose I selected it to reinforce my existing bias.

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