Springingtiger's Blog

Books – A Gratitude Blog


I live surrounded by books, I have rather more than perhaps I need. I would get rid of some books, but unfortunately the books of which I want to be rid are my wife’s and she feels differently about them. When I think of my books I realise just how grateful I am that I can read. I cannot remember a time when I could not read, largely because some of my earliest memories are of sitting with my mother reading Harold Hare comics. Reading opens up for one, a whole universe of knowledge and adventure. Each of us has certain books that stand out from the many we have read, there are certain characters who enter our psyche and never leave. I was thinking that were I to be asked to select eight books that are important to me, the selection would not be easy.

My first selection would have to be The Complete Works of Shakespeare, it is an eternal link with my father. I spent many happy hours reading his one volume Complete Works, he loved Shakespeare.  It also reminds me of the most enjoyable events of my schooldays, the plays; it  is not for nothing that Tony Hancock described Giggleswick as the Shakespearian centre of the North of England.

I think i would have to include Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome. I loved all his books.¬† They led to several happy summers of sailing and a lifelong love of the Lake District. They fed a sense of adventure and an awareness that it could be found by any boy with access to a tent, a boat,¬† or even a wee bit hill to climb. I suppose this was the same feeling that endeared to me, the Famous Five by Enid Blyton, except,¬† of course, that Ransome’s children found plenty of adventure without the need for gangs of crooks.¬† Both series of books reflected the world in which I was growing up. A book I read at school which still lives in my consciousness is C Day Lewis’s The Otterbury Incident,¬† published just five years before my birth it was, again, very much a reflection of my time.

I loved the children’s classics of my childhood Peter¬† Pan, Alice in Wonderland,¬† The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh.¬† My mother had a signed copy of AA Milne’s A Gallery of Children, I wish I had it as it would be worth a small fortune now. I can hardly leave my childhood memories without mentioning CS Lewis,¬† obviously the Narnia stories,¬† but also his science fiction Perelandra trilogy. And, finally we come to Tolkien,¬† I read The Hobbit when at prep school and, for my birthday a few years later,¬† my cousin Lynn and her husband gave me The Lord of The Rings which I read in a single all night session, I have read it many times since.

At Glasgow University I met Conrad Taylor to whom I shall be eternally grateful for introducing me to both Herman Hesse and Mervyn Peake. Of the novels of my adulthood that linger with me the ones that first come to mind are Jack London’s The Iron Heel and The Children of The Abyss and Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. I must also admit to enjoying a good thriller, Jack Higgins is a particular favourite. Were I to start listing my favourite crime writers,¬† this blog might never be finished.

The most influential books of my adult years have been biographies and of these Gordon Brown’s James Maxton and Mihir Bose’s biography of Subas Chandra Bose stand out for me.

Much of my reading has been on spiritual matters. I love the medeival mystics of England and Spain, Teresa of Avila is a major influence,¬† however as much as I love Interior Castle, for me¬† The Book of the Foundations has been the more enduring. I have a box full of books relating to St. Francis of Assisi, my grandmother gave me the Fioretti as a child and I never looked back.¬† Another great influence on me spiritually is the Sai Baba of Shirdi, I have many books about Sai. One book without which I would not be is The Siva Sutras, at least one translation of which is with me always. I first read the Bhagavad Gita at the age of thirteen and it opened my eyes to the breadth of the world’s spiritual traditions. I shall only mention one more book in this section, the Astavakra Gita which always inspires my thought.
I have read so many books as an adult but it is the books of my childhood that have still the greatest resonance with me. Of all the things a parent can give a child the greatest gift isthe ability to read. Reading opens the universe to the child and the child to the universe.

My eight books?¬† The Siva Sutras revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, The Lord of The Rings, James Maxton by Gordon Brown,¬† The Mirror of Perfection,¬† The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila,¬† The Tao Te Ching, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and the Bhagavad Gita or perhaps Palgrave’s Golden Treasury.¬† Of course,¬† if I don’t stop now I’ll have changed my mind in two minutes!



Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: