Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Hymn

Can you believe it’s already 2014? Isn't that crazy???

No. Nope. Not crazy.

This year has felt like an eternity with miniature eternities thrown in for good measure. I guesstimate that several solid months were fairly decent, with one or two even reaching the status of pretty darn incredible. The rest were full of life lessons, self-discovery, paychecks, and Jack Kerouac. So...good, I suppose. Obviously, this is the part where I gloss over sleepless nights and venting sessions that’d make David O. Russell blush.

I’m not writing this blog post to celebrate 2013, and I’m certainly not writing it to make any New Year's resolutions. It just so happens that I created a reading list that coincides with January 1st, and, I’ll admit, will likely result in the undeniable strengthening of my character. Haha. We all know that’s impossible. Wait. What? Interpret that however you’d like. Chances are I’m not vain—you’re just judgmental. And yes, that was condescending. Proud? Maybe. Patronizing? Absolutely. I love you, you. Don’t stop being that person.

Anyway, here’s my reading list. I intend to read at least one title every week, with the only exception being The Republic, which may require two. I’ll start with the novels I have stacked on my desk; every 5th book will be a major poetic work, and every 6th will be nonfiction—probably philosophical, political, or theological. This order is disrupted pretty quickly, but at least I’ll begin with some sort of structure.

  • Dracula — Bram Stoker
  • The Metamorphosis — Franz Kafka 
  • 1984 — George Orwell
  • Farewell to Arms — Ernest Hemingway 
  • “Song of Myself” — Walt Whitman
  • The Republic — Plato 
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying — George Orwell
  • The Pit and the Pendulum — Edgar Allen Poe
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — Robert Louis Stevenson 
  • The Screwtape Letters — C.S. Lewis
  • “The Inferno” — Dante (Cantos 1-11) 
  • The Gospel According to Jesus — John MacArthur 
  • The Four Fists — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel — Emma Orczy
  • The Body Snatcher — Robert Louis Stevenson 
  • Into the Wild — Jon Krakauer  
  • “The Inferno” — Dante (Cantos 12-34) 
  • The Pursuit of Holiness — Jeff Bridges 

That’s all weekly. I hope. Daily, I will continue (and hopefully increase) Bible reading, as well as A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent and Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton. Several additional books of essays are waiting on my shelf (Nietzsche and Emerson), but I feel they are best taken in moderation and...sporadically. Emerson less so, but I’ll continue to read through his essays at whatever pace I’m lead.

Now. Poetry. I suppose I could assign a full collection to one week, but I feel like that would defeat the entire purpose of poetry. That is, one poem is able to stand alone and be consumed apart from the surrounding volume. Granted, in some cases, poets released specific pieces together. But the majority of what I own are selections—topical, biographical, whatever—that have been arranged by modern editors, often long after the author’s death. So I’ll read a poem whenever I feel like it and that’s that. Poets on my shelf include: Eliot, Whitman, Dickinson, Ginsburg, Emerson, Browning, Frost, Hodgson, and Donne.

Oh, also. Big note here. These are all books that I own. The chances of another novel wedging itself into the bunch are pretty high. The point of this list is to complete all the half-read and neglected books on my shelf and desk.

EDIT: Oh my goodness gracious. I just returned from a bookstore in Lake Forest Park that contained the largest selection of poetry I've seen in my life. I bought nearly 400 pages of Ezra Pound in a hardcover, classic bound, Victorian-looking edition. It includes 30 of his Cantos. I'm pretty happy in my life right now.


  1. Your reading list is fantastic, you sir. I hope you accomplish much reading in this new year. And much writing as well. To the written word - a toast.

    1. Caleb, you should read "A Dance for Two" as well. It's by Alan Lightman, the same genius who wrote Einstein's Dreams.

  2. You do have an excellent reading list. Don't forget to squeeze in "A Dance for Two" somewhere in there I think you'd enjoy it.

    1. I have a feeling I'll be reading "A Dance for Two" before some of the books on my actual list.