Andrew Proctor is the Executive Director of Literary Arts, a nonprofit literary center that serves thousands of readers and writers each year. Ann Patchett says of the organization, "there are no readers more passionate than Portland’s, and no organization better at bringing readers and writers together than Literary Arts."
Reading is essential to my well being. It lifts me out of myself and gives me perspective. Aside from the facts that might appear in a book, it is the opportunity to be in someone else's narrative that ultimately teaches me who I am and how I can be a more empathetic and stronger person. And a confession: I might be the world's worst speller.
Here are ten books that inspire me:
- Underworld by Don DeLillo
“Longing on a large scale, that’s what makes history.” This might be my favorite book written in the 20th century. I love DeLillo intense prose style and use of voice. He is unafraid of big ideas, and capable of rendering them in beautiful prose.
- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The first truly subversive book I ever read, given to me by a high school English teacher.
- Voss by Patrick White
A magisterial novel by the Australian Nobel Prize winner. This novel is an unusual and exciting mix of Victorian prose and modernist sensibility.
- The World and Other Places: Stories, by Jeanette Winterson
I read “The Green Man” in Harpers when I was in college and was completely blown away by Winterson's use of language. These are some of my favorite short stories.
- Tremolo: Poems by Spencer Short
I keep this on my desk and dip into it all the time to shake myself out of my “thinking ruts.” His associative powers are unlike any I have ever seen.
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Possibly the greatest modernist novel of all time because Woolf has all the force of intellect of Joyce but is a better storyteller.
- The Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson
This year’s Everybody Reads pick. This really is a novel every Portlander needs to read. It’s a modern day Grapes of Wrath in its unflinching look at society. Jackson’s mix of street and literary language is electrifying.
- Consider the Lobster: Essays by David Foster Wallace
Wallace is the only essayist that has made me cry, I was laughing so hard. Why do such tragic lives often produce humor? This question comes up again and again in these essays in moments from the sublime to the ridiculous.
- Herzog By Saul Bellow
I just love his book for its voice and humor, and its painful honesty. I so admire Bellow for his work. He was constantly experimenting and taking risks.
- Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zoli
I read a fair number of business books. This often comes as a surprise given what I do. But running an independent nonprofit is the same as running another business, only with a social mission. I loved this book and I think about its lessons a least once a week as we build Literay Arts into a world class literary center that is at the leading edge of innovation. Zoli’s central premise: All resilient organisations have three defining characteristics: they are dense, diverse, and distributed. I will leave you to read the book to learn what he means.
My Librarian and our featured guest readers are made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to The Library Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation, and reach through private support.