The prime example of one of the books I should have and don’t is the collection of Benardete essays entitled The Argument of the Action. The essay on the Symposium alone – on how Diotima is really a very dark figure, on the political implications of eros – is one of those “wow, my IQ has just jumped 50 points knowing this essay merely exists” type things. I’ve been reading free excerpts from the essay on the Phaedo in that same book and finding them invaluable as I work through that dialogue.
It’s a book I use regularly without even owning it. Why I don’t buy it asap is really dumb on my part.
So right now, I’m going through a “if I feel like having it, dump it in the wishlist” phase, and I’m going to prioritize the books every so often. The idea is to pay real attention to what I want as opposed to what I need, because if I get something that I want which I will read and be of use immediately, I might be able to keep “needs” away.
The only thing that’s bugging me while doing this: since the list is a “wishlist,” there are more books on it right now than I might ever read in my life, and I’m tempted to add CD’s and junk.
Btw – I own two very cheap poetry anthologies that contain poems all of us read back when we were 10 or something. They’re so useless I’m tempted to say I own only one book with poems, but I barely even use that because I wrote on nearly every poem in it before I found it lying around in the basement (it wasn’t my book, not quite sure how we got it). Nearly every poem I write about is something I saw in a book that I didn’t want to pay for, and so I copied it down, or I found it online.You’ll probably also notice looking at this list that I lack some pretty surprising essentials – I don’t have a translation of Rousseau I trust, nor any Shakespeare save the Sonnets and Macbeth. No Plutarch, either: I think I read Life of Themistocles entirely online once.
Here’s the wishlist so far. DO NOT BUY ME ANYTHING FROM IT. I cannot emphasize this enough, the most help you can give for me now is to make sure this blog gets readers. The wishlist exists so you can see what I probably will be working from/reading soon, and trust me, most of these books will be easily had in a good University library. A few of them are very essential – I actually just finished Plato’s Euthydemus and am considering ordering Strauss’ Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy since I only got half the essay on it from Google Booksearch.
As always – suggestions are welcome, and I’m actually interested to see what some of you might have on your wishlists.