Philip Pullman’s 40 favorite books

Via Bookslut and A Different Stripe: The London Times has published an annotated list of children’s author Philip Pullman’s favorite books. Some of these picks are not particularly surprising, coming from writer whose best-known novels (the His Dark Materials series) offer a sustained indictment of organized Christianity: he lists William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience; Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestors’ Tale; Elaine Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels and a couple of other books that examine received religious ideas in one way or another. And as far as his other selections go, you can’t fault his taste: Maus, Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Though I’m a bit surprised not to see Paradise Lost here, given how important it is to His Dark Materials.

Anyway: it’s fascinating, I think, to see how a writer responds to a request like this. It makes me wonder: did Pullman actually try to come up with a list of his true personal favorite books here? Or did he select the titles carefully in order to try to give a certain kind of impression of himself as a writer or a reader? It seems like there would always be strong temptation for a writer to fudge in this kind of situation, knowing that there will be an audience ready to dissect choices and pass judgment—I’d imagine at least some writers might choose at least a few titles not because they’re absolute favorites, but instead because they’ll reflect well on them in the eyes of readers and critics. Pullman’s list seems believable to me, like it could actually fairly accurately reflect his interests and tastes—but then again, the fact that it so closely matches my largely media-derived idea of who Pullman is makes me wonder about the self-consciousness of the effort. There’s no way to know—and I’m not sure it matters much in any case, as it certainly wouldn’t change my (fairly high) opinion of Pullman’s books.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Philip Pullman’s 40 favorite books”



  1. 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




Recent Publications

Review of J.M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature, edited by Anton Leist and Peter Singer. The Quarterly Conversation, September 2010.

Review of Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett. The Region, June 2010.

Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat and Old Filth by Jane Gardam. The Quarterly Conversation, Issue 19, Spring 2010.

Review of 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About by Joshua Clover. ForeWord, November/December 2009.

Review of The Humbling by Philip Roth. Identity Theory, November 25, 2009.

Review of Imperial by William T. Vollmann. PopMatters, September 18, 2009.

Review of Wonderful World by Javier Calvo. The Quarterly Conversation, Issue 17, September 7, 2009.

Review of Of Song and Water by Joseph Coulson. Identity Theory, August 3, 2009.

Review of Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music by Amiri Baraka. ForeWord, July/August 2009.

Review of Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda. Rain Taxi, Summer 2009 (#54). Viewable online via Powell's Books

September 2008
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

%d bloggers like this: