reading list

Having watched a youtube analysis (Daniel Boland), I am intrigued by the character analysis and have added Wuthering Heights to my reading list – maybe they’ll make a romanists out of me yet.

I am doing a deep dive into characteristics, personality traits and relationships of narcissism and empaths, stimulated through youtubes of HG Tudor. Despite my education and experience in the mental health field, these insights would have been very helpful had I known earlier in my life.

In an attempt to find inspiration this December, I rekindled an old tradition, found an advent wreath complete with electric candles, and I’m reading and sharing thoughts from Richard Rohr, with my own twist.

This is more of a “look at and immerse myself in another world” book. “The subject of winter – clearly the most inhospitable season for plein-air painting – provides some of the most exceptional and most spellbindingly beautiful paintings in Impressionism.” [I just scrolled down and see I have already added this book – I do come back to it every winter]

Having just read an interesting synopsis and life application, The Pilgrim’s Progress will be my next book, another re-read. [This is put on hold as there are so many versions I can’t decide which one to get. Maybe I’ll just watch the movie]

My newest book, the result of my failing quest to find a church body to worship with, I’m planning to read a sermon, some inspirational music, post comments & see if others are also seeking. This collection from 1876, by George MacDonald, best known for his fantasy novels and fairy tales (which I read to my children), greatly influenced CS Lewis.

Apparently all women are supposed to love Jane Austen; something I’ve never understood. This is my attempt to figure out romance (apparently I’m missing some genes). I’ve finished Pride & Prejudice and Emma, and I’m on to Mansfield Park. I’m thinking romance has changed since the 1800’s.

Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout, written 1934-1985) I ran across the A&E TV series and loved the dialogue, character development, period scenes, music and clothing – enough so that I scoured used books and am reading all the series. Well written and entertaining. Meet the “arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary, orchid growing sleuth and his trusty man-about-town, Archie Goodwin.”

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, (GK Chesterton, 1908), a surreal psychological thriller involving seven anarchists, exploring disguised identities in a “spellbinding allegory,” held my attention throughout. CS Lewis comments, “A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe.” (more about GK Chesterton)

Introduced to Charles Williams [watching Inspector Lewis (Magnum Opus)], who was part of the Inklings (literary discussion with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien), of course I had to explore these interesting, engrossing and thought provoking worlds. War in Heaven, 1930, “unabashedly mystical and intellectual” tale, combines a murder mystery with a modern quest for the Holy Grail, while exploring the distinction between magic and religion, complete with occultic practioners. Descent Into Hell (1937) Set outside London, the townspeople stage a new play, where exists a thin spot between two realities. (more about Charles Williams)

From 1959, “one of the greatest books of our time,” psychiatrist Viktor Frankyl describes his life and that of others (guards and prisoners) in Nazi death camps and spiritual lessons; “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.” Very moving book for me, finding positives out of extreme suffering.

Narnia Series (C.S. Lewis, written 1950-1956) The fantasy series with talking animals and mythical beasts and the children who adventure there with Aslan. Having read as a child & read to my children, I am re-reading as an adult with much deeper knowledge and understanding of the unseen world.

Gathered from his extensive writings, Ravi Zacharias presents reasons “to believe in a God on whom all other essentials of the Christian faith are built, by which life must be governed, and with your personal beliefs, your culture, and the unique message of Jesus Christ are examined.” These 52 short chapters with thought provoking questions are designed to be read and processed weekly. As more of an intellectual, cognitive thinker, I find this very stimulating.

From 1940, one author I can reread at different stages of my life, find wisdom, sense making, inspiration and encouragement to travel on through this journey we call life; and find in this book CS Lewis to be brutally honest, even desiring to write, The Problem of Pain anonymously.

I’ve recently come across the cultural phenomena of Jordan Peterson and am engrossed in his brilliant Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999), drawing on ancient mythology, literature and modern neuroscience, leading to furthering our understandings of human motivation and emotion. While heavy reading for most, this psychology textbook is in my life long field of study.

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (Sam Harris, 2014), I found to be a very satisfying, thought provoking book; exploring consciousness from a neurological perspective, eastern and western spirituality, the “self,” pitfalls of religion that so scar so many, adding to my understanding of those discounting a benevolent Supreme Being.

During this time of enforced self-isolation, searching my bookshelves to find one of my books, bought and as yet unread, relegated to dusty shelves, I ran across a book subtitled, “Four Who Wrote in Blood.” The back cover further elaborating, “Four Unexpected Prophets Who Shine Light Into the Darkness.” What could be better? With anxiety, depression and suicide rates shooting skyward, maybe I could find answers.

This little book (2019) is aimed at lessening anxiety and fear through learning more about God, trusting Him and his assurances. While I don’t agree with all of Welch’s insights, this is my second time through these 50 short readings with insights and questions to ponder.

Mikovits & Heckenlively (2020) expose scientific and pharmaceutical dishonesty perpetuated through government before this before the current situation. From the back cover, “intrigue is seamlessly intertwined with fascinating revelations about the still poorly understood science behind the potential role of retroviruses.”

The March of Folly: From Troy to Viet Nam (Barbara Tuchman, 1984), a fascinating, informative read, exposing “the pervasive presence through the ages of folly in government.” “An epic study of blundering statecraft” brilliantly illustrating the folly of government policies. A maddening and sadly disturbing read as I once again contemplate the needless loss of life.

A Question of God: CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (Nicholi, 2002) The two men never met, but this brilliant author places their arguments side by side through their writings and letters. Truth be told, although it has been on my shelf for a while, I need to complete the second half. I find it very fascinating and thought stimulating.

From 1910, A Shepherd’s Life, relates many fascinating as well as informative insights into English country life. Passion for nature shines through as he describes the daily lives of the people and the outdoors they inhabit. I thoroughly enjoyed the common everyday vernacular in which this book was written.

Lost Horizon (James Hilton, 1933) I ran across a documentary exposing people trekking from all over the world in search of Shangri-La, the socialist utopia introduced through this book and movie; a “stunning tale of revolution, utopia, and adventures” in a hidden mountaintop escape. I found it a gripping adventure story to read while waiting for an eye doctor appointment.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, from the 1857 edition, as an adult, recognizing much truth is hidden within, it’s a great adventure rereading these classics in their originality, not diluted by cartoons or disney, or dumbed down children’s books.

The Dragon and the Raven: The Days of King Allred (G.A. Hentey, 1886). What a great historical reading adventure. The country for years was occupied by pagan barbarians hordes, slaughtering, plundering, and destroying. This is a tale of rescuing the Saxons by King Alfred who was “learned, wise, brave, prudent, and pious; devoted to his people, clement to his conquered enemies.”

One of my all-time favorite books (and movie). I first came across it in one of my family therapy classes & have read the book and watched the movie several times. The story revolves around two brothers, their parents, and the choices they make, leading them down very different paths, all woven through the art of fly fishing. In addition to the beautiful scenery, for me, there is much to ponder

“How could someone be so twisted? So evil?” Go inside the heads of the kinds of people you know, perhaps all too well, but can never understand. Are some people born to be bad? Psychology and brain imaging. Research with intriguing family history puts both a human and scientific face to evil. [I am always searching for the “why” people do such bad things.]

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment.” Reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. “Only torture will bring out the truth… only under torture does he discover it.” [one of my favorite authors]

A Cracking of the Heart (David Horowitz, 2009), a very poignant and emotion provoking journey into the life of his “extraordinary daughter’s short life” as he searches for meaning to understand the child he lost. The author takes us “through a father’s love, frustration, admiration and grief to what lies beyond.”

There are obvious losses: death, separation, loss of job, etc. Not -so-obvious: moving, illness, change, success (loss of striving), etc. Loss related to age: loss of dreams, leaving home, retirement, etc. Limbo losses: waiting for answers, quarrels, etc. With emotional injury, healing is like a physical wound. [the best book I have ever found to help grieve losses and move on.]

Targum meaning translation, references the various language transliterations of the original Hebrew Torah, which were commissioned and created by Temple elders. The Aramaic and Palestinian versions printed here are acknowledged to be the oldest and most widely used renderings of the ancient language translations of the original Hebrew.

Impressionists in Winter – When one cannot get to an art museum, picture books have to satisfy. As a lover of impressionist art, I love this book which “provides some of the most exceptional and most spellbindingly beautiful paintings in Impressionism.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Hugette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune (Dedman and Newell, 2013), a fascinating and true life story from the Gilded Age on millionaires row in New York City (I have relatives there and have seen these mansions). The ruthlessness of gaining these fortunes is exposed and the tragic circumstances that follow the next generation.

This volume contains four Christmas Stories written by Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, and The Haunted Man. A nice winter read (even if you live in AZ) & with the added bonus of the original work without all the multiple adaptations. (More about Charles Dickens)

Major British Writers (1954) is a source of great joy to me as I love British telly and with these authors often referred to, I can read their original works. Not to mention, my heritage is the same.

A retirement gift from a friend, The Mature Mind (H.A. Overstreet, 1949), held my interest, gave me new insights, helped me understand some of the insanity our world is experiencing, and made me glad to be classified as a senior citizen. May I live up to the wisdom I am supposed to have.

One of my favorite books from my doctoral school days (which I started at fifty). I was so thrilled to find out development does not stop in our early 20’s. There are levels that cannot be reached until we reach our 40’s and beyond, if we have the courage and drive to keep experiencing life and keep expanding our knowledge and understanding. I keep referring to it.