Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lent for Extroverts 20: Books for keeps

I'm not a great one for Home and Garden or Period Living, unless the perfectly designed and impossibly immaculate rooms feature a bookcase. Or preferably three. This World Book Day I have been holed up in the study trying to write. The design of this current study is either better or worse than our former study, depending on how you look at it: in this one the desk is nowhere near the bookcase. The desk in the other study was right next to it, so as you sat and pondered what to write you could get nicely and frequently lost perusing books instead and thereby do no work. As it stands, with desk over in the other corner of a very generous sized room, I feel a bit disassociated from the bookcase. One day I might look round and find it gone. Instead of this gorgeous conglomeration of well thumbed tomes, with their own ancestry and smell, there will be a small Kindle sitting on otherwise empty shelves, winking in silver, mocking me.

It's a bit like architecture, how books have built one's life. Francis Spufford wrote The Child that Books Built, which says it all for me (he has said some other rather wonderful things meantime, plus it turns out he's a believer; see his latest - Unapologetic). Or archaeology...the various strata that currently make up this bookcase start, for me, with these aged companions: CS Lewis; David Watson; AW Tozer (falling apart) and of course Mr God this is Anna, the best book on theology in the known world.

The next strata, representing a good few happy years trawling Christian bookshops, would look something like this: Rob Bell; Dallas Willard; Phillip Yancey; Richard Foster; Brian McClaren; ooops - a Joni Mitchell music book and some Revised Common Lectionary preaching tomes appear to have crept in.

I would have to add Joyce Hugget's Listening to God, The Four Faces of God, Bickersteth and Painand anything by John Bell, just to stir things up.

From here the strata get a bit more gritty as these appear: Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf and the slightly easier to read version - Other by Kester Brewin; Alister McGrath; a bit of Colin Gunton; then John McQuarrie and John E. Colwell for sacramental theology; oooops - here's The Rattle Bag, brilliant poetry anthology complied by Saemus Heaney and Ted Hughes; Your Church and The Law (yawn) The God Delusion (you gotta be fair minded) and of course any Lesslie Newbigin (watch that spelling).

Lastly the strata of contemporary fiction of course - too many to mention - but imperative so as not to become an utter and total clergy bore: plenty of Anne Tyler to keep your faith in humanity, and books by Joanne Harris so you can imagine Johnny Depp hoving into view in a small French town during Lent. And Faber; the gorgeous little slim poetry collections by Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot and Philip Larkin. And finally the Classics, which in our house are either all black ('His') or all orange ('Hers'). Either way they're old friends.

Can you get all that tactile enjoyment, that history of handling, annotating and cherishing with a Kindle? Call me old fashioned, but I think not. Happy World Book Day.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this; I share both your feelings about books, and the content of your shelves! (posted by a forty-something-part-time-Baptist-minister-and mother)