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.

Forgiving Bin Laden

All week, we have been thinking about bin Laden’s death and our reactions to the news. Emotions have ranged from joy to outrage; there have been celebrations as well as concerns about the legality of the action. Andrew Sullivan and the readers of his blog have been struggling to understand their responses to the death of Osama bin Laden.

This, from a reader, may be the most moving of all. But following the whole conversation, beginning with Sullivan’s original statements is testimony to the complexity of the question.

Eric Reitan, a Christian universalist, explores our need for cosmic retribution and concludes:

So, is Osama bin Laden in hell? Yes, absolutely. But I will not be at peace, I will not believe that justice has been done, until he is redeemed.

His essay puts me in mind of the piece by Jonathan Jones I read this morning. It’s an appreciation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.