Today I unpacked a small box of small (paperback) books that are my all-time favorites. They are my favorites for various reasons, and here they are in no particular order of importance:
If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. (I used to keep several copies around to share with friends in need.)
Small is Beautiful. (I am still a firm believer in “appropriate technology.”)
Bellwether. (A clever novel about chaos and sheep.)
The City Not Long After. (In a post-plague San Francisco, it is the artists who are creative enough to survive.)
He, She, and It. (What every woman wants.)
The Catcher in the Rye. (Because there’s some Holden Caulfield in me still. And I love the line he tells the lady on the train about just having a little brain tumor and it being nothing, really. My little Signet 1961 paperback, with an illustration of Holden with his baseball hat on backwards and carrying his suitcase, is already yellowed with age.)
Rhythms of Vision. (Connects mysticism with the natural world and science by exploring the recurring cosmic rhythms and forms that underlie all life and matter. This is one Chris Locke should check out re his on-going rant against the “mystic bourgeousie”.)
Zelda. (A yellowed with age 1971 first printing of the biography of Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s a reminder that some of us are just not meant to be the “woman behind the man.”)
Myths to Live By. (I consider Joseph Campbell my mentor.)
The Courage to Create. (Artists as revolutionaries. Of course.)
The Tao of Physics. (Just what it sounds like — an exploration of the overlap of science and spirituality.)
And, finally, Crygender. (A totally insane futuristic romp with a surgically enhanced hermaphrodite trying to avoid being murdered. You can buy a used copy for one cent. No, not mine. That one’s not for sale at any price.)
Tonight I watched The Last Temptation of Christ for the second time in my life. I found that I didn’t remember much from the first time. I remembered the controversy over its irreverence, and I remember being thoroughly intrigued and affected by the way Jesus is portrayed. But apparently my brain did not pack away the details. It was pretty much like watching it for the first time.
And that’s why I keep hauling around these little paperback books, the pages of which are crumbling, and the covers of which are not the ones displayed on Amazon.com.
Some cold winter day, when the mountains are hip-high with snow, I will re-read one of them. While I will remember the joy of reading it the first time, if my brain holds true to form, the details will seem brand new all over again. Just one of the all-too-few benefits of getting older.