My Worldview: A Reader’s Guide
Booking Through Thursday Asks: Have you ever used a book to instruct someone of something or is there anyone for whom you would like to do that? (I don’t mean a text book for a class, but a work of fiction or non-fiction that would get a certain message across either through plot or character). What is the book and what do you wish to impart?
One book? You mean I have to pick just one? I could write an entire syllabus based on books that have colored the way I think. One of the fun parts of getting to know someone new is trading those essential books, using books to understand and explain conversations about worldview.
The Westing Game– Ellen Raskin. The book I have read more times than any other. I love it because it works as a kids’ book and as an adult reread, a puzzle and a mystery, peopled with largely good-natured eccentrics. It captures the way I live in my head, and the sense of whimsy that draws me to brightly colored socks.
The Callahan books by Spider Robinson. Particularly Callahan’s Secret and Callahan’s Lady. In addition to being quirky and congenial and full of puns, I think these books actually lay out some ethically important insights: love and communication, listening without judgment, self-respect, healthy and playful sexuality and making the inside of your head a hospitable place for someone else to visit. Not bad for a scifi series with aliens, time travelers and talking dogs.
Ender’s Game and Speaker For the Dead by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game captures the psyche of a lonely, angry smart kid really well. And Speaker For the Dead was why I majored in anthropology.
Poetry has to be in there somewhere- I’m still learning what I like to read, and realizing that there’s more out there that I haven’t read or thought about yet. Everything from Shel Silverstein to Billy Collins to John Berryman to Marilyn Hacker… I like poetry that focuses tightly on images, and poetry that shows a glimpse of its structure, enough that the language is fun to read aloud.
Over the last few years, foodie lit has entered the mix as well. Chef memoirs, essays, novels set in kitchens. If it kind of makes me drool, I will read it. I think I read more interesting food than I cook for myself. Armchair chef? Cultural explorations of foodways. Foodways, what a great word. Sometimes I kick myself for not getting into food culture while I was studying anthropology in college. If I could go back and take a few classes…
Recently, library and information science have, of course, entered the mix. The articles I’m reading for school drive me nuts because there’s so much academic jargon getting in the way of some interesting concepts- it’s been a while since I used my academic brain!… The more popular-audience geared riffs on libraries and info make me happier. I’m still nibbling here and there at all the other sorts of books I mentioned. To keep myself well-rounded and feeling sane.