A Stack of Books

The pastor at a local church is retiring, so on Monday, a gloriously sunny day, he left a table of his books along the sidewalk, free for the taking.  His collection, at least what he was discarding from it, was quite eclectic.  Here is what I took from it, in no particular order:

Jacques Ellul, Violence: Reflections from a Christian Perspective
Karl Barth, The Faith of the Church
Martin Buber, The Knowledge of Man
Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness
Erich Fromm, Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought
Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
Tacitus, On Britain and Germany
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Confessions
Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education
Hannah Tillich, From Time to Time
Catherine of Genoa, Purgation and Purgatory, The Spiritual Dialogue
Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom
Paul Tilloch, Dynamics of Faith
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society
Erich Fromm, Man for Himself
Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain
C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man

Actually, these last three books are exceptions to the rule of no particular order, since they all came with those little impromptu bookmarks that so intrigue me.  The Ignatieff book contained a promotional bookmark by a publisher called Chelsea Green, which is not remotely the publisher of the book.  The Lewis book contained a sixties era advertising postcard for The Prudential Assurance Company in London, England, with a very amusing black and white photograph of two elderly people framed by mountains and their brand new Buick.  The de Chardin book contained a little recipe card.  At the top, in very neat bloc capitals, it reads, “DIE VORWAHL FUR DIE SCHWEIZ, BITTE.”  When turned upside down, beginning from the bottom, there is a list: “Bus, L’Abri (this is boxed), Swiss Tourist office (this is linked with the previous item with a bracket), post office – see if Dianne or Trudy listed”.  On the back, it reads, simply, “Zurich – 01660845.”

None of these books will rank very highly in the order of books that I will be reading next, though Calvino and de Beauvoir  and Flaubert and Catherine of Genoa will probably get read sooner rather than later.  Most of them are merely books of the sort that I might read, at some point, if the occasion and the inclination arises.  Even so, they are welcome on my shelves.

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9 comments
  1. Curtis said:

    Have you read de Chardin before? I not I recommend you bump him to the top of your list, Luke. I am reading a book right now, filled with a number of the man’s quotes. Among them is a homily he gave, in place of mass, having no sacramental articles, where he offers up, first the steppe, where he is, possibly the reason he has no implements for the Eucharist, next the people, then all of creation, everyone everywhere. It’s incredible the man’s thinking in just this speech he gives, what well might have been thought, his only alternative to leading a boring liturgy or prayer. You must check him out if you have not already. Some things make him sounds like an honest mystic psychopath, which puts him high in my book. He might have been excommunicated as a heretic, though, the concept might be accurate, my choice of words my be overly spoken.

  2. Curtis,

    Yes, I have read de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu, and I enjoyed it very much, so The Phenomenon of Man may get read sooner rather than later as well.

  3. Amy said:

    I am relieved that I am not the only one to pick up books not knowing when I will get around to reading them lol.

  4. Amy,

    This is the only way to read. Buy whatever comes across your path, and then read whatever calls to you from the shelf: reading as promiscuity, as lust of the eyes, as desire.

  5. Katerina said:

    and we’re back to the erotica of reading again… 😛

  6. Katerina said:

    that is supposed to be a tongue-sticking out face, not an ecstatically deranged face.

  7. It’s great to see Ellul and Barth at the top of your list — we need to pay much more attention to those two!

  8. Stephen,

    If you are interested in Barth, I should probably put you in touch with my friend Ben Platz. I only started to read Barth because of Ben, and he is always encouraging me to read more.

    As for Ellul, I have read only an essay of his on technology, but I am interested to read more.

  9. Curtis said:

    Or truly, to bend your attention towards what improves ability.

    For instance, my computer crashed recently, leaving me with out content or key, resigning me to my stores otherwise neglected. I have in those weeks amassed an increase to my fiction and history, but it is thought and philosophy, with a minor twang towards some history, that, with near daily journalling has much improved both thoughts and recording process.

    For, maybe experiments sake, or posterity of the facts, I am inclined to force myself to deplete these two genres alone, before the others. Combine that with the fact I have just begun the fall, and I must say, I disagree with reading as a joyous gluttony- and am devised to make it a monkish embrocation.

    However no man is a hypocrite to his pleasures, and in this case, both serve a kind of literary masturbation- I would suppose.

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