Tag Archives: books

NYC18: books

I’m on holiday.

And I’m reading books.

On Wednesday I completed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

And Saturday, whilst reading in Union Square park, I completed The Alto Wore Tweed.

Now I’m on to Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss.

My reading is nothing if not eclectic.



“No more books,” he said earlier in the week.

“No more books without some going out the door.” He had already culled two shelves of books in his office earlier in the week.

He sees books piled in nearly every room of the house. The stack on the kitchen table is 16 inches high. The stack on the dining room floor is more than two feet from top to bottom.

Books are everywhere.

And then he goes to Barnes & Noble to see his niece for a few minutes.

And spies the $2 table.

“Just one,” he thinks.

But just one is not in his DNA.

And thus he arrives home with six new books, a bargain at less than $18 including tax!


A few weeks ago, one of our Webster alums posted a query on Facebook.  Seems he needed some new reading material, and was looking for suggestions for fiction, but also for books that had “stuck with” over time.

I made three suggestions:

And I’m thinking, during these troubling days, that perhaps I should re-read all three?

A book

I had one of those “I’m sad I finished this book” moments this past weekend.

Saturday’s events in Charlottesville, and a rather frustrating phone call, led me to the decision to cancel my evening plans and stay home.

After dinner of lamb burgers and cold potatoes dressed in lemon and olive oil, I made a quick trip to the market for a few odds and ends.

And then at about 8.30 p.m. I sat down with James Woodforde‘s The Diary of a Country Parson.

On the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral choir tour last summer, many of us learned of this book as we were in Norwich, England, where Parson Woodforde was the rector of a parish in that dioecese.

I’d started this book in June, and had picked away at it.  Since it’s a diary, and the entries are short, one can easily set the book aside.  But this past week I’d been more intentional in reading the parson’s account of life in Norfolkshire.

After about an hour, I had finished the last 100 pages, and found myself with tears in my eyes.

In offering the book to other folks on the tour, I wrote “What a wonder, this little tome!  The parson unwittingly has provided us a cultural, dietary, fashion, social and economic history of his age.  And for anyone who loves history, this is just a fun read.”

So Parson Woodforde’s diary is now in the hands of Lenette, who will pass it along to Joyce, who will likewise pass it along.

I found in Parson Woodforde a bit of myself: some of the melancholy, some of the impatience and even intolerance with others, so of the simple piety (I hope).

Thanks be to God for good and faithful servants like James Woodforde, for slices of life from centuries ago, and for the reminder to be thankful for the comforts we celebrate now.

The end

The end of another school year is here.

After Commencement Saturday, I spent the afternoon cleaning, mowing, scrubbing the dirt and pollen from the front porch, and generally being spring-clean productive.  Tasks deferred for weeks were on the day’s agenda, and continue to be for a few more days.

Busy semesters come screeching to a sudden halt.  We finish classes, start juries and finals, and then suddenly I’m putting on full regalia for a commencement ceremony.  Hugs, a few tears, scores of smiles, kind words . . . And then silence.

The cycle is ever the same, and ever new.

Meanwhile, in my own little neighborhood, the folks in the house immediately north of me are moving out, and the landlord is moving in. And the house to the south of me sold last week, with the new young couple moving in directly (he’s in the M.D./Ph.D. program at Washington University, so they’ll be here for a while).

Things change at home too.

I’ve finished my ninth year at Webster University.  We’ve added eight new members to the full-time faculty in that time.  This year we programmed and hosted 178 events in total.  We’ve mourned one death and celebrated five retirements over the last nine years.  And we’ve educated hundreds of music majors, and introduced two new degree programs to the mix.

And now summer begins.  I have stacks of books to read.  A bit less travel to do than in some other summers.  Sunny mornings and long evenings to enjoy.  Two shows to in (June and August).  Three days a week at the office, at most.  At least 20 cultural events on my agenda this summer here in the area.

And a cute dog to love on.


I’m reading more this year, or at least trying so to do.

Over the weekend I finished a book I collected last summer in Norwich, England — Penny Junor’s book The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor. It’s a bit tell-all, without any real scholarship, but it was a breezy reconnection with the British royal house.

Now I’m on to a book I saw recommended in some list I was looking at.  More on that in due course.

And I’m still working my way through my travel diaries, and reading all sort of books on a) teaching voice and b) creating musical theatre.  These latter two subjects seem to be where the remainder of my working days are headed.

Plus — as a result of Monday’s New York Times article about President Obama’s reading list, I’ve looked up and sent myself two of his recommendation lists.  I’ll take a look at those, plus the huge stack of books at already waiting at home, and construct my list for the remainder of the year.