To Be Reading

I recall the urge to read every volume in the small, school library of my rural hometown. I know now how much I would have missed, if I had chosen such a course. I also know that if I had succeeded, fulfilled that urge, and read every volume in the single room library, I would have read more than I have (to date) finished. I have never thought that I was the smartest reader (nor the fastest, by far), but I did think that devotion and hard work would allow me to keep up with faster readers–to, ultimately, read as much as did the teachers I admired and the writers I wanted to emulate. Now, I am at an age from which I imagine that I can see some foolishness in all that dreaming. (I also know that, given some future years of living, one day I will look back at this, what I am writing and thinking now, with some shame and scorn.) I do not have time to read every book in the library. I am blessed to have read and pondered what I have … even at the snails pace I keep. So, it is time to prune.

Here’s a (for what’s left of my) lifetime reading list. Names are here and not titles. Furthermore, I’d like to study these, not just re-read them; therefore, the name includes works by and about the author. I’m just trying to stay focused. Names appear on this list because they have been important to me as a reader in one way or another, some by affection, some by opposition, some by bafflement. I have these names in a hierarchy also, but I’m not going to share that with you. I think it is still too long. Perhaps it is also too prideful–did I put some names on here because I want to seem smart? I think I should cut another ten names off the list–a thorough reading of a some of these would, in and of themselves, take a lifetime. (All links to Wikipedia.)

Aristotle
W.H. Auden
Augustine of Hippo
Elizabeth Bishop
Sterling Allen Brown
John Calvin
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Geoffrey Chaucer
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Dante Alighieri
Charles Darwin
Emily Dickinson
Ralph Emmerson
Mirza Ghalib
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Homer
Samuel Johnson
David Jones
James Joyce
Immanuel Kant
Søren Kierkegaard
Martin Luther
John Matthias
John Milton
Ovid
Plato
Alexander Pope
Ezra Pound
Qur’an
William Shakespeare
Mary Shelley
Christopher Smart
Edmund Spencer
Walt Whitman
William Carlos Williams
Virginia Woolf

I don’t want to say that I will read these and only these authors. In fact, the one book that I read daily is not on the list. In fact, four of the last five books that I’ve recently read are not on the list. (But I expect that ratio to change.) Likewise this list is not permanent; I can change it when I want to. It’s here for my reference anyway.

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