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|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Publication Date: 2015
If books are among our friends, we ought to choose them wisely.
But sometimes its hard to know where to start. In Writers to Read, Doug Wilsonsomeone whos spent a lifetime writing, reading, and teaching others to do the sameintroduces us to nine of his favorite authors from the last 150 years, exploring their interesting lives, key works, and enduring legacies. In doing so, Wilson opens our eyes to literary mentors who not only teach us what good writing looks like, but also help us become better readers in the process.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 59 Names that Belong on Your BookshelfOctober 9, 2015Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In a life time of reading, we make friends with a variety of authors, usually total strangers to us in real life, but nonetheless, known and beloved, because we have come to know them intimately through their books. In Writers to Read, Douglas Wilson invites his readers into the circle of friends he has formed with nine favorite writers whose dates straddle the twentieth century, whose nomenclature leans toward the use of initials, whose faith commitments are all over the ecclesiological map, but whose writing and thinking are sure to be as iron sharpening iron the best sort of friendship.
What sets these writers apart and makes them worthy of space on our crowded bookshelves? In Douglas Wilsons delightful enneadic biography and book review, five resounding reasons surfaced:
1. Their gift of seeing G.K. Chesterton was a master of paradox who had a way of turning everything upside down so that we might be able to see it right-side-up. Robert Farrar (R..F.) Capon was able to portray grace in his writing to display the inexhaustible gift of God that cannot be overdone (although he tried), but his real gift was in writing about food, observing what went on the table and what went into getting it there.
2. Their artistic imagination N.D. Wilson happens to be Douglass son, a fiction and fantasy writer and a creator of villains and plots involving great danger. He and Chesterton agree that stories with intense plots do not teach children to be afraid. They have dragons under the bed already. They had the fear already. The stories actually teach children that dragons can be killed. I still need to be reminded of that and applaud a writer who can bring them into being on the page.
One of my favorite authors, Marilynne Robinson, is also on Douglas Wilsons list (rendered M.S. Robinson for his purposes), and her ability to create a world and to populate it with believable characters is unrivaled. When I read Gilead for the first time, I found myself checking and re-checking the back cover author bio to assure myself that the book truly had not been penned by an elderly parson writing his sons begats in the twilight of his life.
3. Their use of metaphor P.G. Wodehouse is first on my list of untried authors from Douglass recommendations, and I can hardly wait to dive in, because, apparently, the metaphors and similes found in the work of Wodehouse cause the reader, even if alone, to laugh like a hyena with a bone caught in his throat; and since were on the topic, that quote is evidence that Douglas Wilson is also no slouch in the creation of similes.
It will surprise no one to find that T.S. Eliot is also on this list of nine with his streets that follow like a tedious argument, and his description of fever singing in metal wires. Wilsons most encouraging and heartening contribution regarding Eliot came from Thomas Howard who explained Eliots habit of treating us as though we know as much as he did. This is a great relief to me.
4. Their distinctive voice The only atheist on Douglass list, H.L. Mencken came across as the skeptical cynic in his writing, but with a deep vein of kindness and an ability to convey fascination. Too, having read out loud four and a half (we bailed out on The Silmarillion) of J.R.R. Tolkiens books, his love for language and his lyrical depiction of camaraderie and adventure are magical. All who have been drawn into the warmth of The Fellowship will enjoy Douglas Wilsons analysis of the uniqueness of Tolkiens fictional world.
5. Their ability to be both fun and good for you In all feigned humility, I must call attention to the remarkable restraint that I have exercised to this point in not including C.S. Lewis in any or all of the previous categories, but perhaps this final quality summarizes him best and touches all the others as well. Douglas Wilson helps us to see that the mainspring of this ability in Lewis is the idea of aching after joy. As a romantic rationalist he fused logical reasoning with glorious imagination that turned every description and dialogue in his work into a feast for the heart and for the mind. Who doesnt love a talking beaver with great theology?
Although the biographical information provided in Writers to Read is informative and includes a thorough probing of influences and motivations which set the stage for digging deeper into the authors works, it is the final section of each chapter that presents the not-to-be-missed material. If You Read Nothing Else points out a short selection of titles from each author, narrowing down the dizzying list of great books to manageable proportions. Douglas Wilson goes one step further in his Afterword with his you-can-do-it encouragement to become acquainted with his nine friends. As a book-blogger, I love reading about books and authors, and I make an effort to read as much and as broadly as Im able, but few have made it into such an entertaining journey!
This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.