Books, book graveyards, and top ten lists

I just read a blog post that I’d left unread for some time in google reader about a novelist’s ruminations after visiting a used bookstore: “The Beautiful Afterlife of Dead Books:”

Cue: Stephen Fowler, owner of The Monkey’s Paw. It was while chatting with Fowler in his beautiful shop that I had an epiphany. At any given time, his bookshop is packed with over 6,000 dead titles on everything ranging from terrestrial slugs to false hair. Rows of books rest in peaceful repose on tables: gorgeous idiosyncratic corpses that would excite any literary necrophile.

Then I came on Susan Russell’s blog entry Books, Books, and More Books. She begins by mentioning an encounter in a newcomer’s class with someone who had just encountered Urban T. (Terry) Holmes’ What is Anglicanism. She goes on to list her top ten list. Coincidentally, on Sunday, I was looking through my bookshelves for a copy of that very book, to share with two young people who have recently come to the Episcopal Church. My search was fruitless. I remembered then that I had lent a copy several years ago, at a former parish, and probably hadn’t got it back. I’ve got no qualms with her list of ten favorites. Mine would, of course, be much more heavily weighted to the theological and literary classics. No doubt Dante would make my list, even if an NGO wants it banned.

One of the books on her list is by Anne Lamott, who has a new book coming out soon: Some Assembly Required. An excerpt is available at Salon.

And speaking of lists, a Catholic church historian’s take on the ten top books in Church History.

1 thought on “Books, book graveyards, and top ten lists

  1. Interesting post to find tonight. I should read that book of Mr. Holmes – perhaps the public library will have it.

    That said, I would be interested in seeing your top ten list as it is an interesting exercise in itself. A rough cut at my list might start like this (I’ll leave off the current prayer book and the bible as well):

    1) The Lord of the Rings (With the Hobbit & Silmarillion included)
    2) The Book of Common Prayer of 1549
    3) Original Blessing by Matthew Fox
    4) La Vita Nuova by Dante
    5) Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
    6) Philosophic Investigations by Wittgenstein
    7) Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
    8) Socialism by Michael Harrington
    9) The Norton Anthology of Poetry
    10) Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity by Hooker (more for some of his essays and sermons. His “Learned Discourse of Justification” was vital to my understanding of Christianity. The rest of that long book is actually quite good though)

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