I am prepared to be snowbound. Provided the power does not go out, I have food in the freezer and books galore to read. I have been told about some snowfalls so high that the only way to get out is through a window, then you essentially snow-shoe out. Given 1) I have no snowshoes, and 2) even if I got out, my car would be stuck in the garage, unless there is an extreme reason, I plan on being happily stuck.

Even if that doesn’t happen for us this winter, I have four books to recommend, none of which are religious. Yet each could expand your soul and mind, if that makes sense. They are books to savor, to curl up in a chair with a glass of wine or coffee alongside, and simply enjoy. They are not to be speed-read through, but to ramble through at your own pace, maybe even re-reading sections.

The first is Ursula K. Le Guin’s No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. Le Guin died in January at age 88, after a lifetime career writing classics in science fiction/ fantasy, essays, children’s books and poetry. Her books have been translated in languages around the world. (When someone asked her what one novel meant, she had to respond that her answer depended on what it meant when it was written, what it means now, and what it means to someone reading it in Turkey…) Check Wikipedia for all of her awards.

This is her final book, a collection of essays ranging from her dealing with the various issues of aging, to The Great American Novel (TGAN, which seemingly has never been written by a woman, thus freeing women to simply work on “their book”,) to letters written to her from children, to assorted essays about the cat she and her husband recently adopted from the animal shelter in Portland. As you read, it is not reading WISDOM, just the wry astuteness and humor of a great mind who has lived long and well. As I read it, I had the sense of listening to a well respected friend talk, gripe, and be totally, wonderfully, impressively human. I wish I had known her.

Another book of essays is more for those of us who are addicted to books and literature. It is The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick. Hardwick was the co-founder and editor of The New York Review of

Books. Over the decades, she wrote essays, reviewed books, and promoted authors. Some of the titles of the essays will give you a feel for the book: “America and Dylan Thomas,” “Loveless Love: Graham Green,” “Paradise Lost: Philip Roth,” and “Locations: Landscapes in Fiction.” It is not a book to charge through, but take an essay at a time, as the spirit moves. Her writing is something experiential, such as her opening for “America and Dylan Thomas”: ” He died, grotesquely, like Valetino, with mysterious, weeping women at his bedside. His last months, his final agonies, his utterly woeful end were a sordid and spectacular drama of broken hearts, angry wives, irritable doctors, frantic bystanders , rumors and misunderstandings, neglect and murderous permissiveness.” If this type of writing draws you in, check out this book.

The third book I am considering to have our Food for Thought group get to discuss over several weeks: Ten Poems to Change Your Life, by Roger Housden. I am a great lover of poetry, so it was inevitable that I got this book. He does not use ‘favorite” or ‘classic” poems: I would bet that most you have never read. But they are well chosen, to jar you into deeper thought. He includes essays on his own take on the significance of the poems, which you can agree with or not. But between the poems, and either agreeing or disagreeing with him, you will be influenced. At minimum, simply read each poem (one day at a time), then sit in silence to let what it says sink in. Only after you have felt its impact, use your mind to discern the “why” of the impact. Your experience will differ from others’. That is the glory and power of poetry.

The final book is a feel-good read. Anyone who has experienced war-zone combat will tell you that it is not glamorous or uplifting. Rather, after viewing carnage, and discerning what you are capable of doing, most veterans simply don’t talk about it, except maybe to other vets. But if during the midst of horror you get the chance to do something truly good, something you can safely tell your family about afterwards, that is a story to treasure. Towards the end of World War II, it was discovered that the Nazi’s had stolen and hidden away herds of Lipizzaner and Arabian horses, for their “perfect horse” after their victory. The story of the rescue of the horses, under the guidance of the Spanish Riding School leader Colonel Podhajsky, was made into a Disney film in the early 1960s, The Miracle of the White Stallions. (A movie I recommend for the riding sequences, where real Spanish Riding School riders rode. But as a war movie, I fast-forward, for in this “war film” there is no gore, and the heroes do not get dirty or even wrinkled.) But now, in the book The Perfect Horse, by Elizabeth Letts, you can read the whole story from those who took part. With footnotes and an index, she shows how much research she did, backing what she writes. The pictures are a nice touch as well! The fact that the Allies took this on and were successful is a story not to be forgotten. Enjoy