Books That Matter is Tracking Wonder’s interview series that showcases influential thinkers’ and authors’ relationships with books that matter to them.
Few people speak and write as eloquently about the role that poetry plays in our lives than author, teacher, and writing guide Roger Housden.
Books such as Ten Poems to Change Your Life and Twenty Poems to Bless Your Marriage (and One to Save it) have delighted countless people to the daily pleasures and insights that poetry affords us. New World Library recently published his latest book Dropping the Struggle: 7 Ways to Love the Life You Have.
Since Roger is a beloved author 22 books, I wanted to know what books have mattered to him over the course of a rich life of writing, relating, and teaching. In this Books That Matter feature, Roger shares his thoughts on publishing and the next book he’d write if the stars aligned.
Jeffrey: What one book most took off the top of your head (Dickinson on poetry) or was “the axe for the frozen sea within” you (Kafka) or otherwise just changed something profound within you? What did it do for you? Maybe a book that lit you up as a child or that turned you on as a young adult or last week that salved some pain or turned your thinking upside-down.
Roger: The Red and the Black by Henri Stendhal
What one detail do you still recall from that book?
When the main protagonist was playing in the garden with children chasing butterflies, and experiencing what he called “a moment of happiness, un moment de bonheur.”
What kinds of books are you most appreciating or seeking these days?
Ones that expand my notion of the world I am living in, like Sapiens.
You’ll read anything written by whom?
Survey: Roughly what % of books do you read digitally versus in paper?
I read about 10% digitally.
What’s your forecast for the future of publishing?
For whom? For publishers it will be a growth curve with new digital platforms. For customers it will offer ever expanding horizons. For authors it will offer smaller and smaller advances and push more authors to self publish.
If you had five days off to read books next week, which books would you at last read?
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
Which book would you want everyone to read? Why?
The Tao Te Ching because it is a simple yet profound manual on living
If you had the time, talent, grit, and support, what book would you write?
I already have the title – Dark Angel, a fictional account of the remarkable life of the Renaissance artist, Fra Filippo Lippi
What is the one thing you hope readers of your book, Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life Your Have come away with?
The experience that their life, with all its imperfections, is just what it needs to be, perfect as is.
ROGER HOUSDEN is a writer and founder of The Open Gate, a conference and workshop center in England that introduced the work of Ram Dass, Thich Nath Hanh, Jacob Needleman, James Hillman, Robert Bly and many others into Europe.
He currently runs live and online writing workshops with an emphasis on self-discovery and exploration.