(Top to Bottom: What Narcissism Means to Me, Tony Hoagland; Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clark; Wind in a Box, Terrance Hayes; Pictures That Got Small, Jim Brock; Breath, Phil Levine; Norton Anthology of African American Poetry, Henry Louis Gates et al.)
These books on my nightstand represent the books I should be reading.
In 2000, writer Bob Hostetler wrote a very good article that appeared in Poets & Writers magazine called “The Intentional Reader.” In it, he talks about being deliberate about what you read as a way of fueling your writing when you get stuck. And while it’s certainly important for fiction writers, being well versed in all sorts of subjects and forms is huge for a poet.
Hostetler creates an annual detailed booklist in which he chooses titles to entertain and to further his growth as a writer. His list consists of at least 20 must-read titles, leaving room for picks that he discovers throughout the year.
You can read his article for the full text, but to summarize, some of the subject areas he pulls from include:
- one biographical title
- at least one memoir
- a healthy dose of at least four classics
- a minimum of two writing books
- at least one history book
- at least two books by authors I’ve never read before
- a minimum of one poetry book each year
- a minimum of two books in my general field of writing expertise
- a minimum of two books in a new discipline or field of interest
at least one children’s book
- two selections from a short list of books I’ve decided to re-read every few years, some serious, some life-changing, some fanciful
- a recent addition to my plan has been the discovery of new works of international and inter-cultural literature
- at least one book of great heft, the intimidating sort of book I might not otherwise read
I think it’s a great idea—reading deliberately. However, I don’t have time to read this many books in a year. But recently, I have thought about trying again for 2007, reading 12-16 books from specific genres in a year.
So, based on this list, what books would you recommend to others to add to their booklists for 2007? And what do you think about using a book list as a tool? I’ll post my preliminary list Sunday evening based on Hostetler’s article, your comments, and my poetic spin.