The No B.S. blog about Travel, Writing and Life

Inspirational Books to Live By, 45-41

ITKT may have several new bloggers coming on board, an associate editor, and a million small bits to be worked on under the hood. With so much going on, I just assume take a nap. Unfortunately that is not how it works. The show must go on – I would have it no other way.

My list of my most inspirational books continues with the books #45-41 that have helped me put pen to paper, travel with abandon and remind me that finding inspiration is not impossible when staring at a blank computer screen. As always, new sources of inspiration are always welcome.

#45. The Art of the Tale and The Art of the Story both edited by Daniel Halpern

These fantastic collections of short stories were my first my textbooks, from my first class, after returning to school as the “elder statesman” at my local community college. Both books are filled with some of the best short story writing of the last 100 years. Personally, these books introduced me to Ann Beattie, Haruki Murakami, and Sandra Cisneros; reintroduced me to James Baldwin and Flannery O’Connor; and reminded me that great writing takes many forms — maybe even your own.

#44. Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy

A must read if you golf. At the time I was golfing, albeit poorly and this one made me believe that a guy could hit a feathery (a golf ball made of feathers and brine) 320 yards with a shillelagh (walking stick). Golfer or not, this would be hard to believe in any other circumstance and had me wanted to tell a tall tale.

#43. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Is it fiction? Is it nonfiction? Depends on whose opinion you believe. What is less up for debate is the brilliant prose and description throughout. Without question Capote created a his own genre about a true story in Holcomb, Kansas. In Cold Blood is one of those rare books that made me ask myself, will I ever write this well? Then I go and try.

#42. Sefer Yetzirah (the Book of Creation) by Aryeh Kaplan

I know that it might be more helpful to keep my book selections more commonplace and accessible. However, I have to keep it real and say I have found inspiration in all kinds of places. This book would be ideally suited for a scholar focusing on sacred Hebrew texts about mysticism (I can almost feel readers falling asleep now). However, Kaplan’s Sefer Yetzirah attempts to explain, and decipher, creation and the microcosm of all life. One amazing undertaking considering, I can get flustered by trying to string a few simple words together. Kaplan had an amazing ability to discuss ineffable ideas and organizing this vast subject well. This book is a combination of magic, science, philosophy and mythology in one writing. In this way, it has a little something for everyone, but it still is not for everyone.

#41. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson and edited by Thomas Johnson

I decided to do my grad school critical paper on Emily Dickinson and used this book as chief reference. Somehow 125 years after her death, she is still relevant. Dickinson was shut in, depressive, feminist, probably homosexual (there is some debate), and self-reflective in a time when most writers just weren’t. She also played with structure, timing, and grammar when almost no one did such things. Her voice is unique and challenging. She still manages to touch emotional spots that need to be stirred.

More coming soon

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