Below you will find an ever-growing list of books, stories, and miscellany that I’ve read in 2021. But before we begin, please note why reading is such an important and valuable endeavor, as described by these famous personages:
Think before you speak. Read before you think.—Fran Lebowitz
The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.—Descartes
A good book is an event in my life.—Stendhal
Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.—Louis L’Amour
What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright.—Gustave Flaubert
Homer’s Daughter by Robert Graves
Graves writes a novel based on the suggestion by Samuel Butler that the author of The Odyssey was a woman. Graves narrates events in a young princess’s life that have remarkable similarities the latter half of The Odyssey after Odysseus returns to Ithaca to vanquish Penelope’s suitors.
The Odyssey, though invariably ascribed to Homer, was composed at least a hundred and fifty years later than the Iliad and the atmosphere is altogether different: sweeter, more humorous, more civilized. The Iliad is a poem about and for men, the Odyssey (despite its male hero) is a poem about and for women.—Robert Graves
The First Manifesto of Surrealism by André Breton
In the early 1900’s, after the World War I, the Surrealist movement took root. It was born out of the earlier work of Dadaism. Breton and the other Surrealist writers of the day attempted to bridge the unconscious world of dreams, as expressed by Freud, and the familiar conscious world of our waking lives. Surrealist writers attempted to bypass the reasoning faculty in favor of a direct connection with the living symbols of the unconscious.
Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.—André Breton
The Milk Bowl of Feathers edited by Mary Ann Caws
This book is a curious little read by many of the famous surrealists from the 1920’s. There is an excerpt from Salvador Dali, some thoughts penned to Pablo Picasso, some verse, and other odds and ends. Some of the imagery is a bit difficult to fathom, as one might imagine from artists wishing to bridge the waking world with the world of dreams.
It is the French who really know how to make love. They take love as an art, which it should be. I have never had any fault to find with the French.—Kay Sage
Maurice By E.M. Forster
Maurice was written in 1913-14 but not published until 1971, because it is a moving tale about homosexual love. It was ahead of it’s time. After reading it, I thought that love, in all its myriad manifestations, is beautiful.
There was something better in life than this rubbish, if only he could get to it—love—nobility—big spaces where passion clasped peace, spaces no science could reach, but they existed for ever, full of woods some of them, and arched with majestic sky and a friend. . .
Final Poems by Rabindranath Tagore
Tagore is Bengal’s Shakespeare. These poems were written in the last year of his life. In them, he attempts to convey the experience of the Divine when one faces one’s own mortality.
I have no faith in my works
I know Time’s ocean,
its lashings of waves,
day by day
will erase them.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
It’s true. I’m a latecomer to the Harry Potter series. Perhaps, I’m the only person left in the world who has not read them all. It was a fun and light-hearted read.
His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A spell-binding story of love and murder, set in a fictional country estate called Manderley on the southern coast of England. It’s a page turner!
If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.