Book List As Autobiography


(From Continuum GRC)

This isn’t exactly a metaphysical entry. And it’s only quasi-autobiographical, but if anyone who knows me at all well runs across this, they could probably figure out that I’m the one writing it just from the book list below.

No matter how depressed I’ve gotten in the past – and sometimes due to the depressive moods – I’ve never stopped trying to be self-introspective, which time and again has even meant trying a few experiments along those lines. For instance, when I first started envisioning the Island – as a place for me to disappear to, to “be gone”, rather than meditating on it as a shelter for loved ones and myself – one of my first reactions was to add, “But I want to take my animals and my books”. To which the logical, experimental nook of my brain chimed in, “Do you really think you could schlep your entire library to the Island? Which books are the most meaningful to you? If you could only take, say, one hundred, and those would be the only books you’d have for the rest of your life, which would you choose?”

(Sometimes I’ve used thought games like this as a way to pull myself out of depressive moods, too. And sometimes it’s even worked.)

After I struggled with my first few attempts to salvage 100 of my books out of a much larger collection, and figuring, “Eh, I’ll be there for the rest of my life, I can fudge a little bit”, I altered the thought game to “One hundred books or series”. That was somewhat easier though occasionally painful, even as just an exercise; and the list gets tweeked now and again, but about three-quarters of the books on it seem to be permanent residents.

I won’t go into the various whys for what is on the list, because that could take a whole dozen other entries in itself. But summed up, the list doesn’t give an entirely inaccurate portrait of who I am.

For my anonymity’s sake, I’ve left off all of my own books, books written by family members, and any local / regional histories. And I know the list spills over 100 just a bit – but hey, like I said, I’d be there for the rest of my life. (And the game assumes I can’t take my Kindle with me.)

THE 100 (and then some)

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, by Eric H. Cline

1776, by David McCullough

Africa: A Biography of the Continent, by John Reader

Ancestral Journeys, by Jean Manco

Ancient Egyptian Literature, translated by Miriam Lichtheim

The Ancient Near East, edited by James Pritchard

Ancient North America, by Brian M. Fagan

Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, by Daniel David Luckenbill

Ancient Records of Egypt, by James Henry Breasted

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

Before the Muses, translated by Benjamin O. Foster

The Belgariad, by David Eddings

The Bible (New International Version)

Billions and Billions, by Carl Sagan

The Blue and the Gray, edited by Henry Steele Commager

Books and Their Makers during the Middle Ages, by George Haven Putnam

Bradbury Stories, by Ray Bradbury

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, by Robert Burnham, Jr.

Byzantium series, by John Julius Norwich

The Cadfael series, by Ellis Peters

Centennial, by James A. Michener

Chesapeake, by James A. Michener

Chronicle of the Pharaohs, by Peter A. Clayton

Chronicle of the World, by Jerome Burne

The Chronicles of Camulod, by Jack Whyte

The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, translated by Geza Vermes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

The Complete Works of Mark Twain

Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsch

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

Description of Greece, by Pausanias

Edgar Cayce – The Sleeping Prophet, by Jess Stearn

The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene

The Encyclopedia Britannica

Europe: A History, by Norman Davies

Everyday Life through the Ages, by Michael Worth Davison

Evolution – the Whole Story, edited by Steve Parker

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The Falco series, by Lindsey Davis

The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle

The First World War, by John Keegan

Fodor’s Europe

Fragile Gravity, by Barb Fischer and Chris Impink

Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, by Maria Leach     and Jerome Fried

The Geography, by Strabo

The Harps that Once, translated by Thorkild Jacobsen

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

Here and Hereafter, by Ruth Montgomery

A History of the Ancient Near East, by Marc Van de Mieroop

The History of Rome, by Livy

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Holocaust, by Martin Gilbert

The Holy Roman Empire, by Friedrich Heer

How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill

I Claudius (series), Robert Graves

I Remember the Future, by Michael A. Burstein

The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer

An Illustrated History of Germany, by Martin Kitchen

In Search of the Trojan War, by Michael Wood

In the Spirit of Happiness, by the Monks of New Skete

The Isles: A History, by Norman Davies

King and Goddess, by Judith Tarr

Kingdom of the Grail, by Judith Tarr

Letters, by Cassiodorus

Letters and Poems, by Sidonius

The Library, by Apollodorus

The Library of History, by Diodorus Siculus

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

London, by Edward Rutherfurd

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry

Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

The Mediterranean, by Richard Carrington

The Mermaids of Chenonceaux*, by Phyllis Meras

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George

The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, edited by Marvin W. Meyer

Natural History, by Pliny the Elder

North and South (series), by John Jakes

Nothing Sacred, by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

The Old West, by Time-Life Books

Out of Eden, by Stephen Oppenheimer

The Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford History of the Biblical World, by Michael D. Coogan

The Oxford History of the Classical World, edited by John Boardman, et. al.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe, by George Holmes

The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe, by Barry Cunliffe

A People’s History (of the United States), by Page Smith

Roman Antiquities, by Dionysius of Halicarnassus

Roman History, by Dio Cassius

The Sagas of Icelanders (preface by Jane Smiley)

Sarum, by Edward Rutherfurd

Seth Speaks, by Jane Roberts

The Source, by James A. Michener

Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, by Richard H. Allen

The Star Wars Trilogy (original)

Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, by Reader’s Digest

Texas, by James A. Michener

The Story of Civilization, by Will Durant

This Fabulous Century, by Time-Life Books

A Thomas Merton Reader

The Time Traveler’s Almanac, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

Traveling on Grace Street, by Jeff Blake

The Twelve Caesars, by Suetonius

The Variae, by Cassiodorus

The Winds of War (series), by Herman Wouk

World Poetry, edited by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major

World War II, by Time-Life Books

The World of Art, by Time-Life Books


*Originally a gift from Alexandra, the friend who inspired me to write this blog.


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