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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 5,583,912  

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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. Reverse Sort 


This Is My Favorite Personal Question1 I Am A Book Fanatic And... Oct 22nd. at 6:42:32 pm UTC

Amanda Gibson (Middleburg, Florida US) Age: 16 - Email


This is my favorite personal question1 I am a book fanatic and went absolutely nuts when I read the hobbit. So, the book nut I am, I went out out and bought The Lord of the Rings (all six in one huge book). I love it! It is an awsome story and it will even make you cry at the end (and I am not much of a crier!). I also like The Shannara series. It is a sci.fi. series but is great. Stories like those make me want to throw on my cape and grab my dagger to do away with the negative aspects of our world.

As for movies, I am going crazy over the Lord of the Rings previews and that should be out in Dec. I usually don't like movies after I have read the book but it looked exactly as I pictured the story being. I also like Practical Magic. That is a really good movie. I can watch The Craft over and over again although it is a "little extreme".


There Are Many, Many Books That I Think Are Excellent Reading, But... Oct 22nd. at 6:18:02 pm UTC

JoAnna (San Angelo, Texas US) Age: 16 - Email


There are many, many books that I think are excellent reading, but right now I'm only going to suggest one of my favorites.

You've probably read it before (it's required reading at most public schools), but 'The Scarlet Letter' is one of the best books I've read in a long time

As for movies, what about 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'? It's a great fell-good movie.


Oy, So Many To Choose From, So Little Space. Movies For Starters... Oct 22nd. at 5:24:40 pm UTC

Kat (Laramie, Wyoming US) Age: 208 - Email


Oy, so many to choose from, so little space.

Movies for starters:
Pitch Black. Oh yes, I do love that movie and that man (Vin Diesel). I am a big fan of the anti-hero. This movie is so unbearably cool (in my humble opinion). And of course the wonderful eye candy is...well...wonderful (though that's not the *entire* reason I love it, honest!). And visual effects eye candy as well.
Metropolis is always a favorite. Others scoff at Giorgio Moroder's version because of the (oh horror!) contemporary music added, but I love it because, unlike most everyone else, he actually added every original scene that wasn't destroyed (ha! so there!).
I'm also fond of (don't laugh) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1. That's a great movie for kicking back and having fun.
I love Unbreakable because I'm such a comic book nut and any comic book aficionado will appreciate the beauty of this movie.
Jeffrey is another that I adore. Seeing Patrick Stewart as a gay interior decorator never ceases to amuse me. It's a wonderful movie all around.
And I do like The Craft. Maybe it's Fairuza Balk, but even though it annoys me on many levels, I really do like watching it over and over.
Oh yeah, and Labyrinth. And not just for David bowie's spandex pants!

Books, my life for 18 solid years while living in the middle of nowhere: Where to begin?
Pastwatch, the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (ISBN 0-812-50864-5) was always my favorite for a long while. It's a beautiful story that makes me long for what could have been...hard to explain...just read it.
Bible Stories for Adults by James Morrow (ISBN 0-15-600244-2). Oh heck. Any of his books. He's a brilliant satirist.
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (ISBN 0-553-57538-4).
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska (ISBN 0-89255-014-7). It's a story of a young Jewish woman in the 1920's. Really good book. Originally was a textbook for class but it was one of the good ones I loved.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I can't find the ISBN on this copy because it's a first edition that I snatched from mom's bookshelf when I was 8...and I still read it which goes to show how wonderful it is. Post apocalyptic story.
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu with translation by Edward G. Seidensticker. Best translation I've ever found. (ISBN 0-14-044-390-8). This is actually a Penguin Classic but it's all there. Fun story. First fiction novel ever (and that's *ever*) written and it was written by a woman to boot!

That's it...for now anyway...all of these are really cool and would make good gifts. Really! I gave Pastwatch to a professor once after he made me do a report on Chris Columbus. Long, scary tale...don't ask.


Oh, Witchvox, When You Ask This Question You Are Playing My Song... Oct 22nd. at 2:49:35 pm UTC

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.

Sci-fi/fantasy:
--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!


Just A Couple Of Fiction Favorites: I Can't Say Enough Good Things... Oct 22nd. at 2:29:31 pm UTC

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.


Okay, My Favorite Pagan Book Would Have To Bo "book Of Shadows... Oct 22nd. at 2:21:20 pm UTC

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!


I Am A Voracious Reader, And Before The Birth Of My Daughter... Oct 22nd. at 2:01:46 pm UTC

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.


If You Like Watership Downs, Try A Book Called 'dragon Winter' - You... Oct 22nd. at 2:00:08 pm UTC

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).

Tara


Video Recommendation: Mind Walk, Stars John Hurd, Sam Waterston, Liv Ullman. This... Oct 22nd. at 1:14:16 pm UTC

awwen (Houston-TX/Ogden-Ut, Texas US) Age: 33 - Email


Video recommendation:
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.


Books: Anything By Stephen King & Anne Rice. I'm Going To Purchase The... Oct 22nd. at 12:10:10 pm UTC

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


Merry Meet All~ Of All The Gifts That I've Received Over The... Oct 22nd. at 12:04:46 pm UTC

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.

Bright Blessings~
Father Time


Fantasy/urban Fantasy: Obviously, "lord Of The Rings" And "the Hobbit," What... Oct 22nd. at 10:46:31 am UTC

Lauryl Stone (Chapel Hill, North Carolina US) Age: 33 - Email


Fantasy/Urban Fantasy:
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.

Religious Studies:
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.

Psychology/Women:
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.

Astrology:
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.

Tarot:
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.

Science Fiction:
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!


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