List of Candidates 2014


Life is too short to read bad books. Life is also too short to read all the wonderful books I want to read before I die, but I am doing my dead level best. One of the resources that helps me with this is to keep a perpetual “list of candidates”. The books on this list come to me in all sorts of ways.

Every time an author I love mentions a book or an author he or she loves, I add it to the list. Christian Wiman was especially helpful in this respect this year as I read My Bright Abyss. Many of the books have come to me across the table from a friend–sometimes in whispers, sometimes in passionate testimonial–either way, if it is a true bosom friend, I write it down. A few have been gifts. Others are second and third volumes from an author whose works have already moved me.

Some of the very best books I have read over the past several years have come from YOU. Every year I throw this list out there as seed, then wait for you to tell me what I am missing. Don’t let me down. 🙂

Incidentally, this year I have categorized somewhat. The first list is broad in scope, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry, prose, etc… I seem to be somewhat short this year on old books (as in more than a century old). Any help you can provide here will be appreciated.

The second list is only poets. I have chosen 6 poets with whom to spend some quality time. If you know of an important volume I have omitted, let me know.

The third list contains books about writing and art (for inspiration). Only the first two will be new reads. The rest I have read before, some of them several times. But a truly great book bears rereading. And rereading…

Elegantly Egalitarian

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Matsuo Basho*
Divine Eros, St. Symeon the New Theologian
Roots of Christian Mysticism, Olivier Clement
Faith Under Fire, Canon Andrew White*
The Ordering of Love, Madeleine L’Engle
Dispatches From the Edge, Anderson Cooper*
Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd
Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother Daughter Story, Sue Monk Kidd*
The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
Walden, Henry David Thoreau*
Immortal Diamond, Richard Rohr
The Naked Now, Richard Rohr
A Place on Earth, Wendell Berry
The Scent of Holiness, Constantina R. Palmer
Everyday Saints, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov
The Outdoor Athlete, Courtenay Schurman
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak*
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle*
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Age of Miracles, Marianne Williamson
The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
The Lake of Dreams, Kim Edwards
Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
At Swim, Two Boys, Jamie O’Neill
The Dog Stars, Peter Heller
Love Does, Bob Goff

Poets Please

Aimless Love and Bright Wings, Billy Collins
Thirst, At Blackwater Pond, and A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver
A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver
Bright Star: The Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats
Given: Poems, Wendell Berry
A Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Rumi: The Book of Love, The Illuminated Rumi, The Essential Rumi, Jalal al-Din Rumi

Word Wranglers

Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet, Christian Wiman
Story, Robert McKee
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L’Engle
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Greenberg*
On Writing, Steven King
The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield
Steering the Craft, Ursula LeGuinn
Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor
The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron