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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 64 - 10/29/2001
What Are YOUR book/video/dvd Recommendations?
What books do you like? Which ones do you read over and over again? What ones do you recommend for those 'taking a mental break' moments or for holiday gift giving? Do you have some suggestions for videos/dvds that deserve a viewing? Your suggestions need not be Pagan specific. In fact, we encourage you here to offer tips on good selections that may be found in the often-overlooked area of mythology, history, humor, sociology, sci-fi or art sections of the bookstores or video sections.
| Reponses: There are 119 responses posted to this question.
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| For Older Kids On Up, Richard Adams' Book "watership Down" Is A... ||Oct 22nd. at 10:08:10 am EDT|
|Anigrrl (Lake Oswego, Oregon US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
For older kids on up, Richard Adams' book "Watership Down" is a must-read for Pagans with an Animistic bent(which would be most of us). Outside of speaking, the world of rabbits is presented in a very vivid, realistic way and has a surprisingly strong spiritual undercurrent. Brian Jaques "Redwall" series & other more anthropomorphic titles which followed owe their inspiration to this book which started it all. The film "Watership Down" by Nepenthe Productions follows the book rather faithfully, including its grim realities of Nature which earned it a PG rating. Cute little Thumper bunnies won't be found here.
For Pagans who like anime or those who need to break free from their prejudice of anime, there's no better film than "Princess Mononoke." Director Hyao Miyazaki is well known in Japan for his strong Shinto-flavored environmental beliefs, which are stamped on every film Studio Ghibli makes. He stated publically that old European Deities were mixed in with this picture, & The Horned One does roam the primeval forest of Mononoke's Animal Gods. There's both a strong heroine & hero, & the backgrounds & animation are truly gorgeous. For younger Pagans, rent "My Neighbor Totoro" where two girls move to the countryside & encounter the kami nature spirits which live there.
I recommend these titles for people who don't get to experience the natural (real) world as much as they would like. All evoke a sense of ecospirituality
that is rarely seen in most mainstream media today.
| I Believe That Some Of The Best Books Are By Silver Ravenwolf... ||Oct 22nd. at 10:11:14 am EDT|
|Gabriel (marshall, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I believe that some of the best books are by Silver Ravenwolf. There are so many useful things in her books. In one particular book she tells a story about dealing with some who said he was a Wiccan. This story really helpe me in lerning how to deal with posers. The best movie I've found so far truly has to be "The Crafft" that is the greatest movie I have ever seen.
| If You're Looking For Movies With A Witchcraft Feel To Them I... ||Oct 22nd. at 10:16:56 am EDT|
|Raven Prince (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
If you're looking for movies with a witchcraft feel to them I recommend The Wicker Man, Drawing Down the Moon, The Craft, Scooby Doo and the Witches' Ghost(I would reccomend that one to any pagans raising their children on the path, since it goes out of its way to explain the difference between Wiccans and evil witches and even to a certain extent explains what Wicca actually is), Scooby Doo on Zombie Island (also good for children), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, So I Married a Witch (a classic from the 1930s), Elvira Mistress of the Dark, The Witches of Eastwick, and even the Halloween movies (believe it or not the Halloween horror movies with Michael Myers were the first places I ever heard anything about Celtic practices from, and their information wasn't entirely inaccurate either, but you have to watch Halloween 2 and 6 for that). I'm sure there are many, many other movies out there with subtle pagan overtones. Apart from that, my pics for horror movies this time of year are: Halloween 1 & 2 & H2O, Nightmare on Elm Street 1 and New Nightmare, Friday the Thirteenth 1, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1, Scream 1 & 2 & 3, The Fog, Terror Train, Prom Night (gods bless Jamie Lee Curtis, the scream Queen), The Howling, Bad Seed, The Town that Feared Sundown (a true story about the Texarkana Phantom killer), Freaks (a classic from about the 1930s, with real carnival freaks in the starring roles), etc... or any of Stephen King's horror movies.
my book recommendations are as follows: a few books for Celts/Druids or those interested in the Celts and the Druids are Celtic Magic by DJ Conway (not really very accurate at all, but the quick index listings of all the Celtic gods is very useful and the book only costs $5.00 when you can find it), The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis (a very scholarly look at the history, beliefs, structure, and practices of the Druid class of Celtic society, boring for most people but highly informative, a must-read for all Druids or those interested in the Druids), The World of the Celts by Simon James (another book about the history and practices of the Celts, very academic and highly informative, another must-read), Glamoury by Steven Blamires (highly recommended to everyone interested in Celtic spirituality), The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin & John Matthews (very detailed, very informative, literally an encyclopedia), 21 Lessons of Merlyn (can't recall the author's name at the moment), By Oak, Ash, and Thorn by DJ Conway (a book which teaches a modern Celtic form of shamanism, very well done), and The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford (beautifully done, wonderful pictures of trees all throughout the pages of the book). I also recommend as a Celtic Tarot deck The Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason. And for those interested in folk magick: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham, Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham, Earth Power & Earth, Air, Fire, and Water by Scott Cunningham, and Magical Herbalism by (you guessed it) Scott Cunningham (those five books will give you everything you need to know to practice folk magick, though i know many other very informative books on the subject exist such as Silver Ravenwolf's American Folk Magic).
| Fantasy/urban Fantasy: Obviously, "lord Of The Rings" And "the Hobbit," What... ||Oct 22nd. at 10:46:31 am EDT|
|Lauryl Stone (Chapel Hill, North Carolina US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Obviously, "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit, " what recommendations list would be complete without those? :)
Lately I've become a huge fan of Diana Wynne Jones. Her book, "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, " should be required reading for ANYONE who's either running or playing a fantasy RPG or who wants to write fantasy. It's a very humorous romp through some of the most famous cliches of fantasy, written in the style of a travel manual. Entries include such gems as the entry on Evil: Evil is generally around someplace in Fantasyland and seems to cast quite a blight. It has two states, active and passive. In the active state, it is rampant, embodied in puppet Kings, Armies of Undead, Monsters and Creeping Pollution of the countryside..." Also, if you liked Harry Potter, try her books "The Dark Lord of Derkholm" and its sequel, "Year of the Griffin."
Another favorite is Pamela Dean's "Tam Lin." Take the old Scottish ballad of Tam Lin (recorded by both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span) and set it in a small liberal-arts college. Captures the special feeling of college mixed with a dose of Faery, bright and dark.
Also Emma Bull's "War for the Oaks" -- I actually have three copies of this in paperback, one is my own and two are loaner copies that I share with people whenever I find someone who hasn't read this yet. It's classic urban fantasy. I can't say enough good things about this book. Just get it and read it.
Guy Gavriel Kay is yet another person whose books I immediately buy in hardback. I'm a student of medieval Spain, so of course I loved "The Lions of Al-Rassan, " which is very loosely based on the epic poem of El Cid, which itself is loosely based on the life of a real man, Rodrigo Diaz -- sort of the Arthur of Spain, complete with sword. If you know El Cid at all, you know how "Lions" ends, but it's a good read. Particularly because there's a strong female character, a Jewish physician.
The Muslim History of Spain:
As for history, like I said I'm a student of medieval Spain, particularly the Caliphate of Cordoba, where you had three religions existing in relative harmony. Two good books about the era by Richard Fletcher: "The Quest for El Cid, " ISBN 0-19-506955-2, and "Moorish Spain, " ISBN 0-520-08496-9.
For a good look at the Nasrid Sultanate of Granada, the last foothold of Islam in Spain, I recommend L.P. Harvey's "Islamic Spain: 1250 to 1500, " ISBN 0-226-31962-8. For a fictional account that follows one family during and after the fall of Granada, I suggest "Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, " by Tariq Ali, ISBN 0-86091-676-6.
For the history of paganism, try Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft." It will probably make some people angry, because it pokes holes in cherished theories about paganism as an unbroken tradition from ancient times. ISBN 0-19-285449-6. Hand in hand with Hutton's book, I recommend Anne Ross's classic, "Pagan Celtic Britain, " ISBN 0-89733-435-3.
For anyone who wants to know who's living in their body, try "The Goddess Within, " by Jennifer Barker Woolger and Roger J. Woolger. Splits the Divine Feminine into six Goddesses: Demeter, Hera, Athena, Persephone, Artemis and Aphrodite, symbolic of characteristics that are found in individual women. It's a great way to get in touch with parts of yourself that you may be repressing or not treating well. ISBN 0-449-90287-0. Written by a pair of Jungians.
Cards on the table, here: I work for the folks who wrote these next two books, but I'd like to think I'd recommend them anyway -- but if you want to ignore this paragraph I won't be offended. :) "The Inner Sky, " by Steven Forrest. A great primer on astrology, particularly astrology as a tool for growth, not a fate that's carved in stone. ISBN 0-935127-04-6. Out of print at the moment but will be reissued by the publisher soon (we hope). "The Book of Pluto, " by Steven Forrest. In a birthchart, Pluto highlights areas of woundedness. This book is a practical, hard yet compassionate guide on how to make it through Plutonian times. ISBN 0935127-34-8.
The Robin Wood tarot, with traditional pagan imagery beautifully done. If you like all things Celtic, try Caitlin Matthews's Celtic Wisdom Tarot, ISBN 0-89281-720-8. Features different images and names for the Major Arcana: The Soul, the Decider, the Guardian, the Shaper, the Keeper, the Rememberer, etc. The suits are Battle (swords), Skill (wands), Art (cups) and Knowledge (coins/pentacles). All cards are richly illustrated, with full drawings on all the number cards too.
For a series with a strong female character, try David Weber's Honor Harrington books, starting with "On Basilisk Station."
Well that's enough for now. Great, fun topic!
| Merry Meet All~ Of All The Gifts That I've Received Over The... ||Oct 22nd. at 12:04:46 pm EDT|
|Cory Cochran (Panama City, Florida US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
Merry Meet All~
Of all the gifts that I've received over the years, my favorite still is the big blank Book of Shadows...lined or unlined, you make it yours by writing down all the important stuff in your journey to knowledge and wisdom.
| Books: Anything By Stephen King & Anne Rice. I'm Going To Purchase The... ||Oct 22nd. at 12:10:10 pm EDT|
|Ciarrai (Piscataway, New Jersey US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Books: Anything by Stephen King & Anne Rice. I'm going to purchase the latest Witchcraft books that Amazon told me about except I will probably get them via the Pagan Pride bookstore.
Video/DVD: Anything by Quentin Tarantino but most especially Pulp Fiction. Amadeus. American Beauty. And for a good belly laugh, all of the original SNL reruns. And Amimal House. And The Blues Brothers. And AB/FAB (Absolutely Fabulous -- the best British art form since Python!)
And just for the heck of it, I listen to lots of The Beatles -- it keeps depression from sinking in. I find "One" is the best for the car. You never get sick of it. And lots of Stones, anything Stones, but most especially Exile on Main Street, and oh yeah, Beggars Banquet (for Jigsaw Puzzle).
Other gift ideas: gift certificates to spas -- you can get a cheap facial, manicure or neck massage w/out breaking the bank. I think we all need a day at the salon, don't you?
Peace, Ciarrai the Prissy Witch
| Video Recommendation: Mind Walk, Stars John Hurd, Sam Waterston, Liv Ullman. This... ||Oct 22nd. at 1:14:16 pm EDT|
|awwen (Houston-TX/Ogden-Ut, Texas US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
MIND WALK, stars John Hurd, Sam Waterston, Liv Ullman.
This movie is about a conversation between a politician(sam), a poet (john) , a physicist on sabbatical (Liv) while they tour a french island castle. they start with humanity's perception of time before decartes to the present and wind up with the impact of two competeing paradigms "decarte/Mechanistic Universe/ male principle" and "Systems theory/Living organism Universe/female 'Goddess'principle". for casual intellectual entertainment, this is the pick! Great for science and for pagan oriented thinkers.
| If You Like Watership Downs, Try A Book Called 'dragon Winter' - You... ||Oct 22nd. at 2:00:08 pm EDT|
|Tara (Hampton Roads, Virginia US) ||Age: 28 |
If you like Watership Downs, try a book called 'Dragon Winter' - you might like that one, as well. But I can't remember the author or publishing date :(
The two authors I would recommed the most are Charles deLint (www.cyberus.ca/~cdl/) and Patricia Morrison (www.lizardqueen.com). Books by both these two led me to the path I follow now. deLint in particular I like - check out any of the Newford books (there is an excerpt from The Onion Girl on his site).
| I Am A Voracious Reader, And Before The Birth Of My Daughter... ||Oct 22nd. at 2:01:46 pm EDT|
|Stormsinger (Milwaukee, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I am a voracious reader, and before the birth of my daughter probably read more than a book a day. I've had to slack off some, and sometimes I do find that I don't have the mental energy to try something new; so I return to:
1) Absolutely anything by Georgette Heyer, but especially, "The Grand Sophy, " "The Masqueraders, " "The Unknown Ajax, " and "Simon the Coldheart". All except the last one are Regency Romances, and she is the best author of same outside of Jane Austen, who actually LIVED in the Regency. The last one is a medieval "romance, " but nothing like the current crop of bottice-busters.
2) Robert A. Heinlein: especially, "The Door Into Summer, " "The Rolling Stones, " "Starship Troopers, " and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." Also like his "Lazarus Long" stuff.
3) Andre Norton, her "space adventure" stories over her justly-famous "Witch World" stories. I guess I just like a straight-forward adventure sometimes.
4) James Schmidt -- one of the first people in Science Fiction to develop strong, exciting female lead characters. Anything by him, but "The Witches of Karres, " is a personal favorite.
5) Lois McMaster Bujold -- the continuing saga of space-roving, misfit genius Miles Vorkosegian is enough to make anyone forget their own problems trying to figure out what in hell Miles is going to do next -- because he NEVER does the "expected" thing!
6) Turn to the Children's/Young Adult section. Fabulous magic can be had not only in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels, but in slightly older magical series as well. I especially recommend Diane Duane's "So You Want To Be A Wizard" series and Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" series -- the latter is especially good for a LOVELY look at British Isles mythology woven into a modern context.
7) If you can find it: "White Wing, " by Gordan Kendall. Alleged in some circles to be a collaboration between several famous science fiction authors, this is the only book by this author -- which is too bad. Excellent as a space adventure and, by the way, a look at a WORKING polyamory (multi-person marriage).
10) Sheer Fun: Robert Asprin's "Phule's Company" and it's sequels. Robert is a rare writer, in that he can do sci-fi humor that actually works. See also his "Myth" series for the fantasy equivalent.
11) P.N. Elrod's "Jonathan Barrett" vampire stories. I admit it. I'm a vampire fan; but not the scary, bloody, dark and brooding types. Sorry. It takes all kinds, and that's the kind I am. Lighter than her "Jack Fleming" books, these are wonderful period pieces, as Jonathan is an American LOYALIST (considers himself British) during the Revolution.
12) Lee Killough's "Blood Hunt, " and "Blood Links" -- more vampire novels, currently reissued in a single book who's title escapes me, sorry. Garath Mikelian won't make you lose any sleep -- at least, not out of fear...
13) Tanya Huff: Her series of vampire novels involving Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII, and Victoria Nelson, a former police detective. A couple of them are a little disturbing, but some people like that. I read them for the wonderful interactions between the main characters as much as the mystery.
14) Elizabeth Peters: The "Amelia Peabody" series of mysteries. Amelia is a liberated Victorian archeologist who has the most amazing adventures and the best family... I want to be Amelia when I grow up.
15) One more from the Kids'section. Check these out as much for the gorgeous pastel illustrations as the well-told tales: D'Aurlieres (I may have mangled the spelling) "Greek Myths" and "Norse Myths." The Greek are easier to find; both books are oversized and were my intro to these mythologies... which put me on the path I walk today...
As I said, I'm a book fiend. I love to read, and this is only a fraction of what I have at my fingertips if I'm too worn out for something new, and want to pick up an old friend... I've got a lot of 'em.
| Okay, My Favorite Pagan Book Would Have To Bo "book Of Shadows... ||Oct 22nd. at 2:21:20 pm EDT|
|Arafel Dragonstar (Saint John, New Brunswick CA) ||Age: 18 - Email |
Okay, my favorite pagan book would have to bo "Book of Shadows" by Phylis Currot. I think it's a great book, best of all because it's a true story. I felt that I could really relate to her story. It's a great book that (in my opinion), would make a great gift for anyone open minded, not just Pagans.
Also, my favorite fantasy novel of all time would have to be "Wizard's First Rule" by Terry Goodkind (and every book in the series after that). He's an excellent author who takes time to develop his characters and plot. Anyway, everyone should read these books!
| Just A Couple Of Fiction Favorites: I Can't Say Enough Good Things... ||Oct 22nd. at 2:29:31 pm EDT|
|Heather (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 37 |
Just a couple of fiction favorites:
I can't say enough good things about Charles de Lint. "Some Place To Be Flying" is an excellent primer for de Lint's style. If you have ever longed to wander into the land of fairy, this may be as close as most of us will get! His subject matter is a wonderful blending of Celtic and native American mythology.
(Personal warning: stay far away from "Svaha". Doesn't fit into de Lint's usual genre, at which he excels. (My apologies to the author, but I would have not read another CDL book if this was my first.))
Along the same subject matter lines: Terri Windling, "The Wood Wife". The author paints the details so well that you can almost see the desert landscape, complete with animal headed people with whom you feel strangely at ease. I normally pass my books along for others to enjoy, but this one I felt oddly possesive over.
| Oh, Witchvox, When You Ask This Question You Are Playing My Song... ||Oct 22nd. at 2:49:35 pm EDT|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
Oh, Witchvox, when you ask this question you are playing my song! I'll try to keep it vaguely topical, since if I didn't I'd probably blow your bandwidth limits to bits with one entry.
Books about Pagan/witchy/Wiccy stuff: I love the ones that are actually novels (and believe me, few enough of them are, though I'll be working on changing that myself in the next few years.)
--Phyllis Currott's *Book of Shadows*--autobiographical, but structured like a novel, that is, it tells a story, and a good one.
--Oldie but goody: Dion Fortune's *The Sea Priestess.* Despite the evil sister, I really love that book. It's carefully detailed and beautifully done. --Starhawk's *The Fifth Sacred Thing*--ditto.
--And--not pagan-specific but a tremendous shaper of my own spirituality, Ursula K. Le Guin's *Always Coming Home.* This one, truly, folks, would be one of my ten desert-island books. It's got everything: a religion, a sense of place, a story (lots of them), characters, and a spirituality which really isn't all that different from most of ours, but without any specially new-age trimmings. It's beautiful.
--And (I hate to do this, but I was so put out that I want to save others from the same fate) an anti-recommendation: M.R. Sellars' Rowan Gant books ought to be good, but aren't. It's a great pity. Anyone who wants specifics can get them from the reviews on Amazon.com, and most of the unpleasant things said there, sadly, are more accurate than the pleasant ones.
--Mystery: Susan Wittig Albert's *Witches' Bane.* Has some Wiccans in it, and (wait for this) they don't shoot lightning from their fingertips, start fires with their eyes, or do much psychic stuff at all. They worship in a conservative little Texas town and nobody tries to re-enact the Burning Times, though some of the Baptists look a little askance. Yeah, there's one sort of supernatural moment, but it's kept very low-key. If you really want Wicca to become an accepted religion without all the frou-frou and self-pity, this is one for you.
--Nearly everything by Le Guin, but especially the title story in *A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.* Another one with working polyandric marriage, and just a beautiful story.
--LOTR, of course, of course.
--Susan Cooper's *Seaward.*
--Nearly anything by Barbara Hambly. In particular, the ones which deal with the nature and workings of magic: the Sun Wolf/Starhawk three; the Windrose Chronicles, especially the finish of *Dog Wizard*; the sequences in *The Time of the Dark* and *The Walls of Air* where Rudy learns about magic (very poignant); and the rather dark unfinished trilogy, *The Rainbow Abyss* and *The Magicians of Night.* I learnt as much about magic from thinking about the questions she raises as from any overtly Pagan how-to manual. Same is true for *Dragonsbane*.
--An off the wall one, but lovely: *Tea with the Black Dragon*, R.A. McEvoy.
I'll try not to get started on poetry, mainstream fiction, and nature writing, but just a few for finishers are Aldo Leopold's *A Sand County Almanac* (magical in a different way, I'd say), William Warner's *Beautiful Swimmers* (okay, yes, it's about blue crabs, but magic is everywhere, right?), the poetry of Linda Hogan (it does have some very magical overtones, Native American variety--a VERY nice change from what seems to be a Pagan compulsion for exact rhyme and ballad stanzas), and the nature poetry of Mary Oliver, though with her I'd stick to the first four books and forget about the rest.
I've really enjoyed everyone else's lists; I'm going to look for some of these books. Everyone, thank you!
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