Sunday, October 22, 2006

I get book recommendations from dead people

When I was in college, I worked at a public library in my home town. People whose personalities and wit I enjoyed would check out books, or bring them back, and I would take note of what they read and gave the books a try myself. It was a sort of stealth book club, and I found lots of authors and subjects I enjoyed reading about.

One of my favorite fictional characters is Lord Peter Wimsey, an English gentleman detective in books written by Dorothy Sayers in the 1920's. In the book Busman's Honeymoon, Peter's mother the Dowager Duchess makes reference to the book The Stars Look Down, presumably the linked one by A.J.Cronin, and the "latest Angela Thirkell."

Finally, after years of reading and re-reading about Lord Peter, I read both and I found a new treasure of English wit and life in Angela Thirkell.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Dick Cavett interview series on the Turner Classic Movie channel. Bette Davis was being interviewed and mentioned that she considered the best fictional presentation of what Hollywood was like at the time she was beginning in movies to be What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg. I just finished it and it was a great story expressed in a writing style contemporary with the period.

Next on my list is The Playboy of the Western World, written in 1911. It's a play, and I'm not much for reading plays, but it was mentioned in another book, and I'm darned if I can remember where I saw it, so what the heck.

When we leave school, how can we be directed into new paths of literature, theatre, the arts? The media? Yeah, right. That Amazon avatar or whatever you call it that says "people who bought A also bought B" is actually kind of helpful, too. But right now, I'm using dead people.

Have you had success finding one book from another?


Anonymous said...

Go to the web sit of Thomas Aquinas College in California, whiich bases its whole curriculum on the Great Books, from a Catholic perspective. They list all those books on one page; here's the link:

Now you know what is worth reading for the rest of your life.

Therese Z said...

Thank you! I need the recommendations, so I don't keep re-reading the same things over and over.



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