"A Side Wind? What Kind of a Side Wind?"

You know that quote "You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me," attributed to C.S. Lewis? I want to know where that comes from, and if he really said it, because I see it so much that I begin to wonder... I've run across a number of famous quotes of his in Mere Christianity and The Four Loves, and a number of famous quotes of Chesterton's in The Everlasting Man, and I put it to the people who use those quotes to prove to me that they had read those quotes previously in those books, and not that they had merely nicked them off the internet because they thought they sounded nice.

Oh, you are the Inquisition tonight!
Adamantine

I've been rather quiet around here lately, but that's only because I've been out of town and out of my normal routine. Now I am home and kind of recovered, back into the normal way of things, and I've finally come face to face with the truth. There is a saying, "Too many books, not enough time," and I don't have to know who said that because, like Newton's law of gravitation, it doesn't belong to any one person, it's simply a fact of reality. At the beginning of the year I had, tentatively, put forward a proposed list for what I wanted to read this year. It grew, alarmingly, and then...died. This is what my original list, with the additions, looked like before its death:

The Art of Medieval Hunting - John Cummins
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
The Kirkbride Conversations - Harry Blamires
The Everlasting Man - G.K. Chesterton
The Golden Warrior - Hope Muntz
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
The Discarded Image - C.S. Lewis
Moonblood - Anne Elisabeth Stengl
When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman
The Four Loves - C.S. Lewis
The Darkness and the Dawn - Thomas B. Costain
The Conquering Family - Thomas B. Costain
The Improvement of the Mind - Isaac Watts
Sword Song - Rosemary Sutcliff
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun - J.R.R. Tolkien
Purgatorio - Dante
The Song of Roland - Unknown
The Problem of Pain - C.S. Lewis
Starflower - Anne Elisabeth Stengl
God, the Center of Value - C. David Grant
Of the Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State - Thomas Boston
The Witch's Brat - Rosemary Sutcliff
Blood Feud - Rosemary Sutcliff
Jesus Among Other Gods - Ravi Zacharias
Gleanings From Paul - A.W. Pink

I have read several of these. The Kirkbride Conversations, The Everlasting Man, Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, and Sutcliff's The Witch's Brat are all completed. But then I went and read The Ballad of the White Horse, by Chesterton (in case you couldn't tell), and a Lord Peter mystery called Clouds of Witness, and the two follow-up books to Howl's Moving Castle: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. These were not exactly on my list. There is nothing like making a list to get other things done. I'm not really strict about my lists: they are structures for me, if I need structures. And this list in particular seems to have imploded under its own weight and begins anew to look more like this:

The Art of Medieval Hunting - John Cummins
The Golden Warrior - Hope Muntz
The Discarded Image - C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain - C.S. Lewis
Moonblood - Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Darkness and the Dawn - Thomas B. Costain
The Improvement of the Mind - Isaac Watts
Of the Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
The Song of Roland - Some French Dude
Purgatorio - Dante
Jesus Among Other Gods - Ravi Zacharias
Blood Feud - Rosemary Sutcliff
Bonnie Dundee - Rosemary Sutcliff
The Napoleon of Notting Hill - G.K. Chesterton
Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson
Centuries - Thomas Traherne

That is still somewhat lengthy for my reading pace. Some books, like Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis and Centuries by Thomas Traherne, will take a long time to finish, as they need to be read only a little bit at a time. I am proud to say that I am nearly finished at last with The Art of Medieval Hunting. I really am enjoying it, but it is long and I am a slow reader. I had it the other day when I was with a friend and she asked me what I was reading. Feeling put on the spot, I hesitantly told her, fully aware of how bizarre it sounds for me to be reading a large book on the subject of hawks and hounds. She began with, "It sounds..." "Overwhelming?" I supplied in an attempt to be both helpful to her and gentle on myself. "Boring," she replied frankly. I was taken somewhat aback by this, but I was also thoroughly humoured. I am used to people gentling me with their pitying disinterest in my bizarre, eclectic taste in literature. I know they mean well, but the patronizing begins to gall one after a while. So my friend's bluntness, completely taking me by surprise (she is such a sweet girl, always loath to give any offence), warmed the cockles of my heart.

I have a more manageable list at present. I don't know how long that will last. I do try to keep things mixed - you can see the list is eclectic in the extreme. I have been reading a lot of Chesterton lately, but then Chesterton was missing for most of my life and I am trying to catch up. Thanks, Anna. Also, between Bonnie Dundee, Kidnapped, and my debates about whether or not my six-year-old niece would enjoy Flame-Coloured Taffeta, there appears to be a sort of conspiracy among the Jacobites to get me to read about them. I think they know I'm Parliamentarian.

"The Jacobites are in."

9 ripostes:

  1. Jacobites? Really, Jenny, I do think you could update your vernacular to reflect our changing times!

    But I am glad I'm not the only one who dove off her planned path of reading for Chesterton's White Horse. Even if your diving was sort of... my fault.

    I do not know that I should find medieval hunting fascinating, but I would like to give it a try... I've had my eye on a book called "The Art of Falconry" (or, more specifically, De Arte Venandi cum Avibus), originally written by one of the Freds, but the printing of it is (I fear) uncommon enough for Amazon to charge a pretty penny for the Paperback edition, to say nothing of the Hardcover...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love those pitying, bewildered glances. They tell me that I am a true writer. I've never actually made a list of books I should read, but your continuing posts about your forays into literature is making me feel guilty. I know that every good writer needs to make time in his (or her) day not only to write, but also to read. Since my latest WIP is a book involving islands, and since both you and Abigail have mentioned Stevenson, I think I'll go for Treasure Island.

    And, for the record, I love the idea of reading a book on medieval hunting! History is the best inspiration for fantasy, in my opinion. Also, realism in fantasy strengthens the story; as Henry van Dyke once wrote: "If a story is worth writing, it is worth writing over until it is true." (And yes, I have read the book wherein he wrote this quotable advice!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. For my part, Jenny, I admire how many books you've crossed off your first list. You've been very steady about your reading this year - unlike me. I've read a lot, but in fits and starts and not such works as Chesterton or Lewis. Ah, well, I'll try to stop being self-pitying and actually do something about that. I can't make lists, though. It's a surefire way for me to lose all interest in reading the books on them.

    Also, I shall want to be snitching Bonnie Dundee one of these days. I'm not sure what you'll think of Kidnapped; I can't decide if it will be your cup of tea. (I am rather proud of having gotten Yaasha to turn her attention to Treasure Island and you to eye Kidnapped. I'll make some Stevenson fans yet, I will!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, Frederick II and The Art of Falconry! Both are referenced extensively in the latter half of The Art of Medieval Hunting. I liked the falconry bits best, I think. I have a great affinity for flying (with feathers) and I related to that more easily than I did to hounds. And I would like to say, with much fanfare, that I have finished the monstrous beast. You may blow the mort and begin the curee.

    I'm not sure what I'm going to think of Stevenson. I don't remember if I ever tried him, but I have this pervading notion that he is Not Quite Me. I think I may be wrong, so I'm going to go ahead and try him at some point. I suppose I always associated him with dull-sounding sailing stories and assumed, without investigating further, that those were all he wrote. But I've liked many a stupider person. I'll give Stevenson a try.

    (There is a Jane Austen quote for everything...!)

    ReplyDelete
  5. The title of this post caught my attention immediately, Jenny! I love the variety and depth of your reading list, and that you've gone so far already into reading many of them too :). To me, most of them seem to be those thick, big books that I would read no more than 2 or 3 in a year!! My list of readings this year hasn't been so big, but they include your book and Abigail's (which I've already read and loved <3), and a couple of other fiction and biography books, including the Sherlock Holmes series, The Lord of the Rings (audio books), biographies about the persecuted Church, and a devotional "Christ is All!". But I've started reading "With Christ in the School of Prayer" by Andrew Murrey (which is really good), and I'm planning on reading a bit more serious books later on in the year if possible... =D

    I haven't read "Jesus Among Other gods" by Ravi Zacharias, but I've watched the documentary for it, and it is really good, and thought provoking.

    I've watched "Amazing Grace" movie dozens of times, but I've never been able to quite understand why the term of "Jacobites" was given to the abolitionists?

    ReplyDelete
  6. As the duly appointed Fact Checker I am compelled to point out that Newton's "law" of gravitation is not, after all, a fact of reality, but rather an approximation that is only applicable in certain circumstances.

    (As the duly appointed Fact Checker I am also compelled to point out that I was never appointed to check facts, duly or otherwise.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. As the duly appointed Pooh-Pooher of Facts, I'd like to point out that the theory "Too many books, not enough time" may be wrong, in my severely personal opinion, as in a way I hold to Jorge Luis Borges' theory "that Paradise will be a kind of library." But "it was Aristotle, long before Kipling, who taught us the formula 'That is another story.' " And I have to find out exactly where he said that. Ba dum, TISH.

    Joy, I have absolutely no idea when the film-writers chose to use that particular allusion in "Amazing Grace." I know, at present, next to nothing about the Jacobites, but what little I do know is not making sense in the context of Georgian England. It's an amusing scene, but I have yet to make sense of it. As for my allegedly monstrous books, well, I confess some of them do seem a little daunting to me, but then I am rather lazy and easily daunted. I am also totally bizarre, and works that most people find really easy I find very difficult to crack open, while curious works like Beowulf and The Worm Ouroboros strike a powerful chord with me. I think it really depends on what you are interested in. Unflagging interest makes a book seem short.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree about the Amazing Grace scene, but as you said it IS an enjoyable scene nonetheless :). I think it is great that you enjoy daunting books!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh yes, I have a waist-high stack of books laying around, not to mention the couple dozen on my Kindle. Everything from "The Introvert Advantage" to "This Present Darkness" to "American Historical Documents" and back again. I hope to finish off many of them during my read-a-thon this summer.

    ReplyDelete