Friday, December 26, 2014

Gifted Books

Tonight I sat down to a silent television for the first time in months. Normally when I sit down it is going full blast and I am unable to hear the television programs upstairs. However, tonight is a rare night. I came into my sitting room to read. Alexis was asleep at a decent hour and for the first time in a long time I picked up some books. Now don't get me wrong, I am constantly reading. It's just that it was the first time I actually sat on the couch and didn't hear a sports game raging in the background. It's the first time I didn't have to read Maisy for the hundredth time.

For Christmas, I received some books from Emil. One of which I was coveting since 2001 called "Poetry Speaks". I found an extended and updated version. I wanted it but I always provide reasons to myself as to why I shouldn't buy expensive books of poetry. I am so glad to receive it. In the recordings they have the great poets like Tennyson, Browning and Whitman. I have not heard the latter two, but I did listen to Tennyson tonight. It was amazing to hear him read "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The pacing and the singing quality of the author's voice was wonderful. While the recording was not clear in some places, due to the way it was recorded (a la wax cylinder), it was interesting to hear him read his own work. Aside from the recordings, what is also fabulous about this book is that other living poets dissect the work of their predecessors. Some of these poets I have not heard of which gives me reason to look up their work as well.

Another fabulous book I received is entitled "By the Book" which is a compilation of authors and questions they are asked about their writing and about which books have influenced them. It was compiled by Pamela Paul. I listen to her book podcast on the New York Times Book Reviews. She has so many interviews. While some questions are repeat questions and feel more like a letter that was sent to the author, others are different. There were some really interesting responses. Neil Gaiman being one of them. I have not gotten through the book yet, but it is also being devoured.

Then of course there was another book I wanted. It is called "The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights and Poets of All Time". Of course I know many of the writers that this book has highlighted, but this is also a revised edition and includes 25 additional writers. I have not read all of the writers listed in this book. There are a few that I have never heard of. I will have quite the course reading writers I have not read.

Emil is so good to me to buy me books for my holiday presents. I feel spoiled as I pointed out books that I would love to have but wouldn't normally buy. I stick mainly to works of fiction. I go to the library for books and I've been reading from my stash. To have a bunch of books that educate me makes me quite happy seeing that I can forego the grad school costs.

Have there been books that you've wanted but haven't bought? Have there been any books you received as gifts that have influenced you?

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