Staying Clean – What I’ve Been Reading

I’ve been clean for 48 days.

In a literary sense, of course. I’m following Ray Bradbury’s program for Writer’s Hygiene and loving (almost) every minute of it. I get a little out of sorts when I’m pinched for time and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open at the end of the evening, but I make an honest effort. I’m usually spending my lunch break getting through at least two of the three required readings — a poem, a short story, and an essay.

Some of the wonderful effects have been the fact that I’m reading pretty broadly and finding inspiration and ideas from unlikely places. I’m also making my way through piles of magazines and books that have sat unread on my shelves for who-knows-how-long.

Here’s what I’m reading through now:

A Treasury of Classic Mystery Stories – For $8, this was a hell of a deal. I’ve never read much mystery as a genre in and of itself (I’ve read plenty of stories with mystery elements), so to read some of the classics has been informative, to say the least. Granted, a few of them have been a real struggle–namely Edgar Allen Poe’s A Murder on Rue Morgue (my God, did we really require three very full pages of abstruse exposition on the intelligence of the man who would eventually solve the mystery?)–, but it’s cool to see the evolution.

I’m a little over halfway through The Hound of the Baskervilles. Though not a short story, more of a novella (in today’s terms), wow, do I love it so far. I’ve been reading a chapter at a time and I’ll definitely be reading more of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe – This one was $5. I’m reading the poems now and will read the short stories after I finish the mystery anthology. But I must say, having just finished Emerson’s poems, and having read A Murder on Rue Morgue, his stuff just isn’t doing it for me yet. I’ll give him a chance and finish all of the included works, but I can’t say I’m impressed.

Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson – Another $5 bargain. I finished all of the included poems and have been reading the essays. Prior to picking up this book, I never knew a thing about the Transcendentalist movement, but Emerson says a lot of things I can get behind. So far, I’ve read wonderful essays on self-reliance, friendship, and compensation.

If you’re looking to follow a similar reading program, Barnes and Noble does have some great collections at reasonable prices. I know I could find all of the above for free online, but the paper books are of excellent quality and I can scribble in my own marginalia.

-Phillip

7 thoughts on “Staying Clean – What I’ve Been Reading”

  1. Sounds like you’ve picked up some great reads. If only we could devote all day to reading, right? I actually wrote up a similar post yesterday (about books I’ve read recently). Figured it was time to dust off my blog. Of course, now I have to actually publish it…

  2. “Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of my all-time favorites. I remember reading it as a teenager and being enthralled by the setting. A big house on a lonely moor–can’t beat that for creepiness!

    Regarding Poe: in my opinion, he’s overrated as an author of weird fiction, with one major exception. A few of his poems are ok–“The Raven” is good, and I like the opening lines of “The City in the Sea”. But I remember “The Fall of the House of Usher” as being absolutely turgid, and other poems and stories of his I found to be quite forgettable.

    The exception is ‘The Masque of the Red Death”. In my opinion, it’s a truly masterful weird story, simply because of the eerie setting he creates, and how evocatively and succinctly (by 1800s standards, anyway) he does it.

    1. Yes! The atmosphere in Hound was fantastic. I had just read a National Geographic article about the moors so that helped me visualize a lot of it as well.

      Regarding Poe, I’m more than willing to read through the rest of his stuff and develop a more informed opinion, but yeah, so far, a little ‘meh…’

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