Welcome to Nonfiction November! This week’s topic is one of my favorites; I find it great fun to look back at my fiction and nonfiction reading and see which titles go together, out of a seemingly random assemblage of books.
I have three pairings for you this year. If you have a post, please let me know – or leave your own suggestions in the comments! This week’s topic is hosted by Sarah’s Book Shelves, so head over there to find out more.
I Don’t Want To Talk About It by Terrence Real
It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
Two decades ago, psychotherapist Terry Real wrote a groundbreaking book about the epidemic of “covert depression” in men, which stems from the way our society systematically discourages emotional nurture and relatedness in half of the population. This denial of basic human needs can cause extreme trauma and dysfunctionality, with far-reaching consequences for our families and our world. I think this book should be required reading for ALL women — and men who have the guts to face their issues.
In a Newbery-winning novel of the 1960s, the classic “disconnected father / silenced mother” relationship was subtly portrayed many years before Real made his study of the pattern. Narrated by their teenage son, who takes in a stray cat in defiance of his father’s wishes, it shows how building bonds of connection and relatedness between people (and animals!) slowly transforms him, and also changes his family.
The Apocalypse of St. John by Emil Bock
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I’ve gotten very interested in reading about the Apocalypse these days, for all-too-obvious reasons. Emil Bock’s profound study elucidated many puzzling elements for me, including the meaning of the number 666. (Think of it this way: the Apocalypse is completely based on cycles of seven, so a triple six is like saying “the eleventh hour,” the last moment before a next stage has to begin.)
Meanwhile, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman take a much more irreverent view of the topic, with a set of Four Horsemen on motorcycles and an eleven-year-old Antichrist. Yet for all their silliness, they never lose sight of the dignity of the human spirit which is the basis of all true religion. That’s what I like about these two authors; they know the real meaning of comedy, which is to restore wholeness.
Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise von Franz
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Speaking of wholeness, we can’t have it without an understanding of the shadows cast by our light of consciousness. Fairy tales offer a superb guide to this un-penetrated part of our being, and Marie-Louise von Franz’s lectures illuminate their wisdom with her own insights from years of work as a Jungian analyst.
For a literary treatment of the shadow motif, there’s none better than Le Guin’s first tale of Earthsea, in which a young wizard looses the forces of darkness in a moment of pride and arrogance. As he painfully must find a way to make up for the harm he has caused, we follow him on a journey that can teach us, too, how to reclaim and own our shadows.