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Posted: Nov. 17, 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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| Hmmmmmm..... What To Pick, What To Pick? I'm Going To Limit Myself... ||Oct 23rd. at 11:26:26 am EDT|
|Merry Arianrhood (West Haven, Connecticut US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Hmmmmmm..... what to pick, what to pick? I'm going to limit myself to books only (hah! Now THERE'S a contradiction in terms!) because I don't own a DVD player and I'm not much into videos. I'll start with non-fiction first and save the mind-candy for last. First of all, since I'm a Pagan parent, I'd like to write about some fabulous parenting books I've read. These would make great gifts for any of your friends who have children. Doreen Virtue's books, 'The Indigo Children' and 'The Care and Feeding of the Indigo Child' are especially helpful when you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADD (there IS a reason why over a million children are zonked out on Ritalin these days!). Her gentle and loving approach to aiding parents dealing with overactive children is like a miracle (and believe me - it works!) and knowing the REASONS why your child is seemingly a reincarnation of a Maenad will bring every overstressed parent peace of mind and heart. Another wonderful book for Pagan parents is, of course, entitled 'Pagan Parenting' by Kristin Madden. I knew that I wanted to introduce my children to my spiritual path, I just wasn't sure how to go about it. Ms. Madden's approach is like slowly immersing oneself into a warm, comforting bath. She provides a wealth of interesting ways to introduce your children to an earth-based spiritual path, from infancy to teenage years. And she deals with all of the difficult rites of passage that face our children, from teenage pregnancy, abortion and death (including dealing with the death of a beloved pet), and she even includes a ritual for boys approaching manhood - something that our culture is sadly lacking. At the end of the book she supplies a number of contacts and resources, including legal references. I could go on forever, but that would take all of the fun out of your own discovery of this remarkable tome. There is just one set of books for children I'm going to mention, not because there aren't more, but because these aren't that widely known and might slip through the cracks largely unnoticed (which would be a shame). Ted Andrews (prolific author of a number of wonderful metaphysical books including 'Way of the Shaman' and 'Animal Speak') has recently come out with a set of books entitled 'The Young Person's School of Magic and Mystery'. Volume I is called 'The Magic of Believing' and Volume II is 'Psychic Power'. Volume III is called 'Star Magic' and is due out this month. Volume IV is due out in December and is entitled 'Faerie Charms' (Mr. Andrews has some wonderful adult books about the Faerie Realm and I highly recommend them) and Volume V ('Spirits, Ghosts and Guardians') is due out next April. The books are geared for age 10 and up (although I've seen precocious 8 year olds get right into them!) and are written clearly and concisely, but also in a fascinating manner sure to hold the attention of any child hooked on the 'Harry Potter' series. If you're wondering what to get the children of that Pagan friend of yours, these books would be it. I'm going to leave non-fiction here, mostly because I've been doing alot of spiritual work lately and so I'm more focused on reading for pleasure these days (we all need a little mundane vacation now and then!). If you're a mystery buff, check out Rosemary Edghill's series 'Bell, Book and Murder' about a Witch in NYC and the mysteries that seem to plague her community. I especially like the way she subtlely delineates Wicca from other spiritual paths, including Satanism. Any non-pagans who might be reading get enough information to come away understanding the tenets of Wiccanism without a nagging lecture, as well as enjoying a great murder mystery. There are also a wealth of great fantasy books out there, but here are a few that really stand out for me: Anything by Patricia McKillip can be considered a classic (sadly - many of her books are out of print, but many libraries do still carry them.), but aside from her Harpist Trilogy, which goes without saying, there is also 'The Tower at Stony Wood' a wonderfully woven tapestry of Celtic and Gothic folklore that includes magic mirrors, illusory towers, knight's quests, dragons, and selkies. I know a book is really good when I actually get sucked into the story and find myself walking side by side with the characters. Tolkien is an author who does that for me, Ms. McKillip is another. One of her books which is out of print, but a treasure if you can obtain it, is called 'Something Rich and Strange' with illustrations by Brian Froud of 'Faeries' fame. Mr. Froud got together with three fantasy authors and spread a group of his drawings out. He then asked each author to choose several and write a story based on the illustrations. Three marvelous stories were the result, but I best loved Ms. McKillip's tale, a modern day romance with selkie overtones. Another fantasy series is a set of books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro about the historically odd figure of St. Germain, as a vampire who has spent his two thousand or so years upon the earth trying to reach enlightenment. There are at least a dozen books in the series so far and each one places St. Germain in a different era of history and in a different country. Ms. Yarbro's exhaustive research of the history of these times and places actually puts her reader squarely into that particular era, not with boring facts and figures, but with a highly personal viewpoint - that of Le Comte St. Germain. If history had been taught this way in school, I'd have paid more attention! Start with 'Hotel Transylvania' and work your way from there. There are also a few offshoots about a female vampire named Atta Olivia Clemens. St. Germain rescues her in 'Blood Games' and Ms. Yarbro rightly devotes a few tomes to Olivia's life and times. My favorite is 'A Candle for D'Artagnan', which places Olivia in France during the time of Richelieu as a spy for the pope. She is saved from a maddened mob by Musketeer D'Artagnan and a romance developes from there. If you're a history buff you'll enjoy the attention to detail and the accuracy that Ms. Yarbro uses in her writings. If you're not a history buff, you soon will be! These are but a few of some of 'my favorite things'. There are many more, but I wouldn't want to take up too many megabytes in the telling! I've included what I've found helpful, whether in an informative way or a 'sitting-by-the-fireside-wrapped-in-an-old-quilt' sort of way. Enjoy!
| Most Of The Books That I Read Are Either Humor, Sports Or... ||Oct 23rd. at 10:29:02 am EDT|
|Timberwolf (Cincinnati, Ohio US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Most of the books that I read are either humor, sports or about the Civil War. I love Calvin and Hobbes(what an imagination!), I have 5 of those. Sportswise, I have a lot of books on the old-time ballparks. Takin' you back to the days of Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds and Crosley Field(had to mention that, being from Cincy). And I have always loved the Civil War. I think that is because I feel that in a previous life I was a soldier in the War. I always thought that I was a Yank, but something happened a year ago that makes me think that I was a Reb. I also have a few wiccan books that I read alot too. Mostly one called "Everyday Magic", though I forget who the author is. Anyone else who is interested in the ballparks of yesteryear, please e-mail me to talk about them.
| Well, Practical Magic Everyone Has Probably Seen But Is Pretty Good. There... ||Oct 23rd. at 10:15:15 am EDT|
|Aelfen Pandora (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
Well, Practical Magic everyone has probably seen but is pretty good. There are a lot of "red flsgs" as the review here shows, but it's a nice movie with great music. If you're into novels, I suggest the SWEEP series. I wouldn't let kids read it though, there are some pretty....disturbing parts. The Llewynn Almanacs are excellent sources for random yet semi-mundane issues, from emergency magick kits to children's stories.
| Wyrd Sisters" And "witches Abroad," Of Terry Pratchett's Discworld Series, Though Farcical... ||Oct 23rd. at 5:38:07 am EDT|
|Tiffany Moon (La Mesa, California US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
"Wyrd Sisters" and "Witches Abroad, " of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, though farcical, beautifully represent the essence of morality in the practice of magic. Please read them in the order above, as that is how they appear in the series, and as the second will make little sense without the first.
| Probably 2 Minutes After I Post This, I'll Kick Myself For Leaving... ||Oct 23rd. at 1:31:26 am EDT|
|John ("New Naumkeag", Ohio US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Probably 2 minutes after I post this, I'll kick myself for leaving something out. ;-) But, here it goes.
The Maltese Falcon (Bogart)
WeŐre No Angels (original) (*comedy* with Bogart)
To Kill a Mockingbird (drama)
The Quiet Man (John Wayne but NOT a western Đ perhaps his best film)
The Third Man (post WW2 Austria drama/suspense)
The Manchurian Candidate (Cold War Đ mind control drama/suspense)
Dr. Strangelove (Cold War comedy)
Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood)
Three Musketeers (1970Ős version)
Star Wars (the original)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
A Fish Called Wanda (comedy)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Clint Eastwood)
High Plains Drifter (ditto)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (ditto)
The Unforgiven (ditto, and *superb*)
Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne, perhaps his best westerns)
The Shootist (John Wayne's last film)
Gettysburg (US civil war)
Glory (US civil war)
2001: A Space Odyssey
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Sixth Sense
Hearts in Atlantis
The Last Temptation of Christ
Crimes and Misdemeanors
It's a Wonderful Life (yes, *that* one that is on TV 5 times every Yuletide)
The Sandman series (by Neil Gaiman)
(by James Mischener, it's historical fiction mostly about the Jews, but in some of the chapters it also touches on what paganism may well have really been like in the ancient middle east when monotheism was emerging; the chapter "Song of the Hoopoe Bird" is superb)
(another bit of historical fiction about what pagan life might *really* have been like, this time in a pagan Roman town)
Well, what can I say: I like movies!
Blessed Be and Blessed Samhain!
| I Tried To List Books And Films That Other People Haven't Already... ||Oct 23rd. at 12:26:13 am EDT|
|Siobhan Aisling (Tucson, Arizona US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I tried to list books and films that other people haven't already listed. The Changeover by Margret Mahy is still my favorite book in the world, it's a young adult book but I still enjoy it as much now as when I first read it when I was 14, it's about a girl in New Zealand that becomes a Witch to save her brother from a life stealing demon, it would make a kick ass movie too. I also enjoyed Fire from Heaven and the Persian Boy from Mary Renault. They are about Alexander the Great, she has written many other books about ancient Greece as well, I haven't read them tho. I like Morgan Llewelyn (Celtic Fiction) I have read Red Branch, The Horse Goddess, and Bard. I also really like mysteries by Martha C. Lawrence. They are about a PI who is also a parapsycologist who uses her psychic abilities to solve crimes. There are 5 books in the series so far: Murder in Scorpio, The Cold Heart of Capricorn, Aquarius Descending, Picses Rising, and Ashes of Aries. Another series of mysteries I like are the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton. They are about a ghost that helps her niece solve mysteries, they are what I guess you call "cozy mysteries" but they are still pretty good. Aunt Dimity's Death, Aunt Dimity and the Duke, Aunt Dimity's Good Deed, Aunt Dimity Digs In, Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil, and Aunt Dimity's Christmas. Oh three books that I read in high school and still read over and over, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford, and the Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton. Oh and last but not least the Heralds of Valdemar and Diane Trigarde series by Mercedes Lackey. For films I think everybody should see Fight Club, other movies I love; Velvet Goldmine, A Life Less Ordinary, Beetlejuice, Dark City, The Fifth Element, Annie Hall, St. Elmo's Fire, and as goofy as it sounds i absolutly love Wayne's World, Wings of Desire, Orlando, oh I really like the Pillow Book as well (and not just because of a very nude Ewan McGregor in it either! well not much anyway...) Um for TV shows I love Red Dwarf, and a friend recently got my into Stargate SG-1. You can get the whole Red Dwarf Series on VHS or DVD and it's on many PBS stations (it's a sci fi comedy from the UK). Even though Stargate the movie pretty much sucked, the series is much better, I would watch the movie anyway before the series just so you know what's going on. You can get the first season on VHS or DVD and the series is either on Fox or the Sci Fi channel, I don't actually watch it on TV so I am not sure. Oh Sex and the City on HBO and I love Eddie Izzard's stand up comedy. Okay I think that's everything :)
| Although I Am Feeling Very Skittish About Recommending A Film With A... ||Oct 22nd. at 9:16:57 pm EDT|
|Robert Albee (Clarkston, Michigan US) ||Age: 37 |
Although I am feeling very skittish about recommending a film with a pagan theme--they are all so flawed and easy to criticise--I will take this risk and say that I am excited about the recent DVD release of the obscure British film
"The Wicker Man." Okay, if you've seen it I can hear you saying, "but they make us out to be the bad guys in the end." Sort of true! However, I have never seen a commercial film that even attempted to depict a modern pagan community, and the overall sincerity and beauty with which this film does so left me breathless the first time I saw it 20 years ago. In fact, I probably find it so easy to see past the obvious horror of the negative portrayals you do find in this film, because this movie was my first experience with the concept of paganism, and the first time I knew I had a pagan soul.
So, enough of my thoughts. Do not let anyone tell you not to see this film because it is offensive to Pagans! See it for yourself, grieve at the disappointment of the chilling ending (or applaud if you appreciate the dark humor and can appreciate it as allegory) but give yourself the pleasure of making up your own mind--and as soon as possible!
| Anything By Robert Heinlein Especially His Lazurus Long Stories. "mysts Of Avalon... ||Oct 22nd. at 9:10:47 pm EDT|
|Darla Addison (Hixson, Tennessee US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
Anything by Robert Heinlein especially his Lazurus Long stories. "Mysts of Avalon" An Ocassional Harlan Ellison story, Any John Steinbeck with the exception of the Red Pony(bores me)Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday being wonderful books for an old fashioned laugh. Guilty pleasures abound in the writings of Robert Asprin. Also Spider Robinson for those times when you have to have good puns, I recommend the Callahan books(Callahna's Crosstime time Saloon), The Harry Potter books have become a favorite in the house and I am trying to interest my 5 year old son (he taught himself to read over a year ago)in them. When I'm troubled I re read the Little House series as they have
a way of helping me put things in perspective. I could go on for days but as a parting I would also recommend the writings of Richard Bach, two of my faviorites being "The Reluctant Messiah" and "One". I pretty much read anything that crosses my path unless it's someones journal.
| I'd Just Like To Point Out That It Took Far Too Long... ||Oct 22nd. at 9:07:26 pm EDT|
|Suzanne ((at college) Clinton, New York US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I'd just like to point out that it took FAR too long for people to mention Neil Gaiman's work and The Mists of Avalon. Come on, people, get on this!! Kidding, of course. But Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and The Mists of Avalon is a great book, as is the Harry Potter series and everything else that everyone has mentioned. (Well...the stuff I've read, of course.) I'm currently enjoying James Clemens's The Banned and the Banished series (Wit'ch Fire, Wit'ch Storm, and Wit'ch War). I also recently read a translation of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which was phenomenal for those of you interested in interesting spins on the Christian mythos. Along that line there is also Stephen Brust's To Reign In Hell, which is quite entertaining. I could go on forever with a list of books and movies that I love, but I'll just stop here.
| All Books By Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones And Jk Rowling Rule... ||Oct 22nd. at 7:44:19 pm EDT|
|Cat (Huddersfield, England UK) ||Age: 16 |
All books by Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones and JK Rowling rule!
| Well, Let's See. Book-wise: Every Man A Tiger By Tom Clancy/chuck... ||Oct 22nd. at 7:35:34 pm EDT|
|Elf (Lewisville, Texas US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Well, let's see. Book-wise: Every Man A Tiger by Tom Clancy/Chuck Horner, which depicts Chuck Horner's time in the United States Air Force through his period as Air Boss during Desert Storm. Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is a good way to lose yourself in a storyline that gets wildly out of control with political implications and behind-the-scenes intrigue. For those getting ready for the first installment of the Lord of the Rings movies, there's the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and it's prequel The Hobbit. Finally, there's the excellent novel Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest by Stephen Ambrose that has been adapted to the Small Screen by HBO.
Video-wise: Gladiator plays well in both how a warrior should be, and just what might lay beyond the veil. Although not out on video, I would highly recommend the Band of Brothers series on HBO. A few others have suggested the excellent and funny Labyrinth, while I would lean towards Shrek for some good old-fashioned belly-laughs. For even further lunacy, there's either of the Austin Powers movies. Finally, there's two more war movies to recommend: the enthralling Memphis Belle, and the off-beat and somewhat humorous The Great Escape.
| I Have To Say That One Of My Favorite Books Of All... ||Oct 22nd. at 7:03:38 pm EDT|
|MoonGodessIsis (Johnstown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I have to say that one of my favorite books of all time is Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I have read, literally hundreds of horror and mystery books, and this is one that I can read over and over, and still be frightened. The book was made into a movie, but a lot of the underlying theme was lost from the original work.
Another good one, which was also made into a movie is Audrey Rose by Frank DeFelitta. It is based on the reincarnation of a man's passed daughter into another couple's little girl. The story is so well written that I really had to remind myself that it was fiction, although, given my beliefs, it could happen....right?
I also have to give kudos to Anne Rice for the Mayfair Witches series. While the main story line has little to do with 'the craft', the scenes that Anne paints, and the history that she delves into makes me believe that I am a descendant of Mary Beth Mayfair herself! She has a magickal way of incorporating so many ancient beliefs, practices, events and places into one story without burying the plot.
There is one movie that if you are ever, ever, ever going to be in a band, I think should be an actual requirement to watch before getting started...The Committments. This movie is set in Ireland and tracks the coming together of a band misfits as they progress from the auditions through to their first successful shows. The story line captures it all, from having to let people go to having to teach, to the love lives of the members and the technical difficulties and disappointments. The Irish setting gives it a tacky charm and the soundtrack is amazing! The songs are blues like Mustang Sally, Do Right Woman/ Do Right Man, Chain of Fools, Needles and Pins....Rent it tonight! LOL
Finally, my favorite movie of all time is Dogma. What? You must be joking! And you call yourself a Pagan? Hey now, I'm a big Kevin Smith fan. Besides, anyone who is any kind of a Pagan has studied enough theology to get all the hidden jokes of the movie. And really, it's a big crack on organized religion. I think i'm actually going to start a 'Dogma- the movie' discussion group. Any joiners?
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