Sunday, September 3, 2017

25 Books that Helped Me To Notice

from The Poetics of Space.


I wish I knew you. I wish I could stand for a moment in that corridor of craft and doubt where you will spend so much of your time. But I don’t and I can’t. Eavan Boland, A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (p. 249). 

Under my childhood bed were boxes of writing--mostly poems. None survive to this day. On the walls of my childhood bedroom were images I painted. On the radiator were plants. And on the shelves were books. A large part of being a writer is listening and noticing. Below are a handful of books that have helped me to notice differently, listen attentively. Some are fiction, most not.

What books help you live more wide awake?



  1. Bachelard, Gaston. (1958/2014). The Poetics of Space. New York: Penguin Classics.
  2. Bateson, Mary Catherine. (2010). Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. New York: Knopf.
  3. Berger, John & Jean Mohr. (2011). Another Way of Telling. New York: Vintage.
  4. Berry, Wendell. (1996). The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture. Sierra Club Books.
  5. Boland, Eavan. (2011). A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet. New York: W.W. Norton.
  6. Carse, James. (1986). Finite and Infinite Games. New York: The Free Press. 
  7. Danticat, Edwidge. (2011). Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. New York: Vintage.
  8. Diaz, Junot. (2012). This is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead.
  9. Dillard, Annie. (2013). Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Revised Edition. New York: Perennial.
  10. Gaiman Neil. (2013). The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Audio CD. New York: William Morrow. (I could listen to him read for weeks and weeks.)
  11. Heaney, Seamus. (1997). The Spirit Level: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  12. Heaney, Seamus. (2011). Human Chain: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  13. Heat-Moon, William Least. (2012). Blue Highways: A Journey Into America. New York: Little Brown & Company.
  14. hooks, bell. (1997). Bone Black: Memoirs of a Girlhood. New York: Holt.
  15. Kawabata, Yasunari. (1972/2006). Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. Translated by Lane Dunlop. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  16. Lewis, C.S. (2009). A Grief Observed. New York: HarperCollins.
  17. McCarthy, Cormac. (2007). The Road. New York: Vintage.
  18. Merton, Thomas. (1979). Love and Living. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  19. Morrison, Toni. (2008). What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
  20. Oliver, Mary. (2006). Thirst. New York: Penguin.
  21. Rich, Adrienne. (2002). The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems 1950-2001 New York: W.W. Norton.
  22. Ruefle, Mary. (2017). On Imagination. Brooklyn, NY: Sarabande Books.
  23. Rumi, Jalal al-Din. (2010). The Essential Rumi. Translated by Coleman Barks. New York: HarperCollins.
  24. Solnit, Rebecca. (2010). A Field Guide To Getting Lost. New York: Penguin.
  25. Whyte, David. (2015). Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. May Rivers Press: Langley, WA.


from On Imagination.

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