Since we will be spending the week in one of our favorite vacation spots, the Westgate Resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I'm looking forward to reading three novels that have Tennessee connections: Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, which is set in East Tennessee, the recent Blue Hole Back Home, which is based on actual events in Signal Mountain, Tennessee (150 miles west of Gatlinburg), and maybe a re-reading of Faulkner's The Reivers, which involves journeys to and from Jefferson, Mississippi (the county seat of fictional Yoknapatawpha County), and Memphis, Tennessee.
Below is the post I wrote a year or two ago in which I further described my occasional pursuit of thematic reading:
Three or four years ago, I stumbled on an idea that has greatly enriched my reading: thematic reading. That is, each year I'll choose two or three books to read that are related in some way (theme, character, nation, etc.).
For example, a few years ago, I read two classic novels back-to-back, which were fascinating to compare and contrast: Jane Eyre (Bronte) and Rebecca (du Maurier).
The next year I re-read a personal favorite, Robinson Crusoe, and followed it with two other books: the nonfiction In Search of Robinson Crusoe (Severin) and the very imaginative novel, Foe (Coetzee).
That same year, I read three books relating to Islam: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hamid), Infidel (Ali), and I Dared to Call Him Father (Sheikh).
More recent examples were:
And already this year, I've read two books dealing with hostage situations: A Rope and a Prayer (Rohde/Mulvihill) and In the Presence of My Enemies (Burnham), and plan to read FOUR other pairs of related books:
- two books on Nazi Germany: the nonfiction The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Shirer) and the novel, Fatherland (Harris).
- three books whose relationship should be obvious: Psalms for Praying (Merrill), Praying the Psalms (Brueggemann), and Psalms of My Life (Bayly).
Of course, many of us read thematically because we concentrate much of our reading on a particular field or topic: leadership, perhaps, or church planting, and so on. But I've derived so much fun from intentionally choosing books that relate to each other, I'd love it if you would try it...and let me know how it goes!
- Flaubert’s Parrot (Barnes) and Madame Bovary (Flaubert)
- Martin Luther King Jr. (Frady) and Hellhound on his Trail (Sides)
- Something Rotten (Fforde) and Gertrude & Claudius (Updike)
- Arthur & George (Barnes) and The Sherlockian (Moore)