Things that books can do for you

Notes for a presentation made at the Brigham Young University/Department of Theatre and Media Arts Spring Writers’ Conference, June 5-7, 2013.

The message: READ MORE! 

How, or what, or where, you might ask.  Fair enough—here are a few helpful categories, and some terrific titles that you might start filling ’em with:

Books that make me happy: Comet in Moominland/Moominland Midwinter (Tove Jansson)

Supplementary titles: Marcovaldo (Calvino), The Pickwick Papers (Dickens), Mythology (Hamilton), The Silent Clowns (Kerr), The Jungle Books (Kipling), Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Leacock), The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow), Who Has Seen the Wind? (Mitchell), The Alligator Case (Pene du Bois), Borgel (Pinkwater), Wyrd Sisters (Pratchett), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Rushdie), The Hobbit (Tolkien), Detectives in Togas (Winterfeld)

…and a few films…: The General (US/Keaton, 1926), City Lights (US/Chaplin, 1931), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (US/Hawks, 1953), Mon Oncle (France/Tati, 1958), My Neighbor Totoro (Japan/Miyazaki, 1985)

Books that make me work: The Well-Tempered Clavier, books I and II (J.S. Bach)

Supplementary titles: Eichmann in Jerusalem (Arendt), Labyrinths (Borges), Lord Jim (Conrad), The Divine Comedy (Dante), The Wasteland and other Poems (Eliot), Short Stories (Faulkner), A Passage to India (Forster), The Trial (Kafka), An Experiment in Criticism (Lewis), The Sea Wolf (London), Under the Volcano, (Lowry), Songs Without Words (Mendelssohn), Paradise Lost (Milton), Complete Works (Shakespeare), A Room of One’s Own (Woolf)

…and a few films…: Ordet (Denmark/Dreyer, 1955), Pickpocket (France/Bresson, 1959), L’Aventura (Italy/Antonioni, 1960), Playtime (France/Tati, 1967), Distant Voices, Still Lives (UK/Davies, 1988)

Worlds (big books): The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories (Hans Christian Andersen, trans. Erik Christian Haugaard)

Selected titles: “The Princess and the Pea,” “Inchelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Magic Galoshes,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” “The Wild Swans,” “The Flying Trunk,” “The Swineherd,” “The Angel,” The Ugly Duckling,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Red Shoes,” “The Little Match Girl,” “The Old Street Lamp,” “The Neighbours,” “The  Shadow,” “The Collar,” “The Flax,” “Everything in its Right Place,” “Under the Willow Tree,” “Five Peas from the Same Pod,” “She Was No Good,” “The Bottle,” “’Something’”, “The Old Oak’s Last Dream,” “The Bog King’s Daughter,” “A Story from the Dunes,” “In the Duckyard,” “The Ice Maiden,” “The Butterfly,” “The Janitor’s Son,” “Who Was the Happiest?” “Great Grandfather,” “The Gardener and his Master,” “The Cripple”

Supplementary titles: Watership Down (Adams), Brigham Young: American Moses (Arrington), Documentary (Erik Barnouw), Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Burns), Don Quijote (Cervantes, trans. Raffel), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer, trans. Coghill), My Childhood/Apprenticeship/ Universities (Gorky), The Complete Fairy Tales (J. and W. Grimm, trans. Zipes), A Sound of Chariots (Hunter), The Moccasin Telegraph (Kinsella), Jerusalem (Lagerlof), Klondike Tales (London), Island (MacLeod), Moby Dick (Melville), Irish Fairy and Folk Tales (Yeats)

…and a few films…: Nanook of the North (Canada/US/Flaherty, 1922), Die Niebelungen (Germany/Lang, 1924), Rules of the Game (France/Renoir, 1939), Red (Switzerland/ Kieslowski, 1994), To Live (China/Yimou, 1994)

Heathens: The Plague (Albert Camus)

Supplementary titles: My Land and My People (the 14th Dalai Lama), Peter Pan (Barrie), Black Elk Speaks (Black Elk, trans. Neihardt), Analects (Confucius, trans. Huang), Beowulf (trans. Heaney), Catch-22 (Heller), Odyssey (Homer, trans. Fitzgerald), High Wind in Jamaica (Hughes), The Heroes of Asgard (E. and A. Keary), Dharma Bums (Kerouac), Tales from Ovid (Ovid, trans. Hughes), Saint Joan (Shaw), One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn), Barry Lyndon (Thackeray), Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

…and a few films…: Greed (US/von Stroheim, 1924), The Searchers (US/Ford, 1956), Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Germany/Herzog, 1972), The Black Stallion (US/Ballard, 1979), The Story of the Weeping Camel (Germany/Mongolia, 2003)

Books that make me better: A Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan)

Supplementary titles: The Uses of Enchantment (Bettelheim), Mother Courage and Her Children/The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brecht), Forty Stories (Chekhov), Pinocchio (Collodi), The Wind in the Willows (Grahame), The Temple (Herbert), Imitation of Christ (a Kempis), Puck of Pook’s Hill (Kipling), Nathan the Wise (Lessing), Perelandra (Lewis), The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle (Lofting), Down and Out in Paris and London (Orwell), Black Beauty (Sewell), Walk in the Light and Twenty-Three Tales (Tolstoy), L’Assomoir (Zola)

…and a few films…: King of Kings (US/de Mille, 1927), Paul Tomkowicz, Streetcar-Railway Switchman  (Canada/Kroitor, 1953), Pather Panchali (India/Ray, 1955), …and Life Goes On (Iran/Kiarostami, 1991), Babe, a Pig in the City (US/Australia, 1998)


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