To which I say, Bravo! And Pthfthfpt!
Brenton writes, “Once again I managed to keep one of my New Year’s Resolutions. In January 2012, I resolved to read 50 books or articles related to my research and writing on C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, and I hit #50 near the end of November and did other reading that I didn’t count (mostly novels, classics, and philosophy). In January 2013, I decided to set my goal at 100 books and articles related to Lewis and the Inklings. Once again, I hit my goal in November. . .”
That Brenton resolved to read 50 books on such noble and thought-provoking material in 2012 was ambitious. That he not only kept but exceeded his resolution is impressive. But for him to do it again last year with double the number of books is–well, I was going to say “disgusting” but I’ll settle for “humbling.”
My intentions were ambitious, too. I vowed to continue “pecking away” at classical authors which had helped shaped C.S. Lewis, such as Homer, Dante, Voltaire, Rousseau, Goethe, Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Pascal, Aquinas, Augustine, Calvin, Schiller, Novalis, Ruskin, Proust. And that was just the classics. I intended to try the mystics and a modern miscellany which included Adler, Gogol, Sittser, Mackie, Eagleton, Rohrer, McGrath, and Lamott.
I managed to read the Iliad and the Odyssey (realized I had read the Odyssey sometime in the 60s). Read Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. Got halfway through Augustine’s City of God, bogged down in Spenser and even J.P. Moreland’s Loving God with all Your Mind. It wasn’t the books. With the circumstances we faced at home I couldn’t concentrate.
So I read Marlo Thomas, Growing up Laughing, Pasner and Newmark’s Billy Graham and Me. Richard Platt, As One Devil to Another. I read books I should have read before: Treasure Island, Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and Farewell to Manzanar. I read books which had a profound impact on the direction my father took our family, like around the world in a ship he designed and on protest voyages into nuclear test zones: Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World and Bigelow’s The Voyage of the Golden Rule.
In fact I read only 33 books, 16 of them for the second time because they were comfortable. I read all of Dee Henderson over again. Jan Karon’s two best: Home to Holly Springs and my favorite, In the Company of Others. How can I resist a dog named Pud? Re-read Syrie James’ The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Benedictus’ Return to the Hundred Acre Wood and Crews’ Pooh Perplex. Cahn’s The Harbinger. Pam Reeve’s Faith Is. . . because she was the women’s counselor at Multnomah Bible College when I was a student there and my friend, and because her faith this year was made sight.
As for 2014: I think I’ll read books that nourish my spirit and keep me focused on the good. Like maple sugarmaker Burr Morse’s Sweet Days and Beyond, which I just finished. His books and those of James Herriott, camomile tea, classical music, natural beauty, and humor calm me better than Ativan. My thoughts need to be soothed in these tense days more than provoked.