Looking for some heavy summer reading.
July 4, 2012 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I have a week at my parent's cottage coming up, and I'd like to get some recommendations on some comprehensive introductions to the classics, mythology, psychology and a few other subjects.

With a week of nothing but reading and eating ahead of me, I want to delve into some subjects that have always interested me. I've realized my knowledge in these areas is a little anemic. I'd like to know if anyone can recommend some good overviews of the following rather eclectic subjects.

-classics (Classical Antiquity and the like)
-mythology (Greek, Roman). I'm also really interested in knowing more about Norse mythology, especially Yggdrasil.
-modern pyschology, especially the schism between Freud and Jung.
-a good book on pencil/charcoal drawing
-I have a trip to India planned; anything, fiction or non-fiction, that would bet me into the right head space?
-I was also considering a trip to Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina around the same time. Again, is there anything compelling I should be reading to know more?

I'm not a fast reader but I'm determined. Anything that can get my mind off on a new tangent would be appreciated. Thanks so much.
posted by chrillsicka to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is the book I've seen recommended most for learning to draw.
posted by smitt at 7:35 AM on July 4, 2012

Freud and Beyond. Used during my MA program.
posted by bquarters at 7:38 AM on July 4, 2012

An excellent book re a specific time and place in India.
posted by bquarters at 7:42 AM on July 4, 2012

Greek Mythology.

The White Goddess.

Eros the Bittersweet is not comprehensive or introductory, just really good.
posted by BibiRose at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2012

Regarding Freud and Jung, Peter Homans's Jung in Context is a great place to start. Through a pretty extensive presentation of the correspondence between the two doctors, Homans shows how Jung's narcissistic merger and subsequent break with Freud makes sense of their diverging clinical and cultural views.

The thrust of the book as a whole is that to a greater extent than Freud's clinically-oriented analytical approach, Jung's blend of mysticism and psychotherapeutic theory found a permanent place in the popular American imagination. There's plenty of depth-psychology, literary criticism, and historical/sociological research, but despite his eclecticism Homans is an eminently readable scholar.
posted by rumorsofrising at 8:59 AM on July 4, 2012

I often give Daniel Boorstin's book 'The Creators' to friends looking for something like this. It balances readability with depth quite well.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:34 AM on July 4, 2012

If you're interested in mythology and the classical world, then you simply must read The Golden Ass by Apuleius. And of course you should read The Odyssey if you haven't already - try Robert Fagles's translation. I would also recommend good critical editions of the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes (the current Penguin editions are usually a good bet).

On the subject of India, I recommend An Area of Darkness by VS Naipaul.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 2:59 PM on July 4, 2012

for India, Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts.
posted by Rash at 5:56 PM on July 4, 2012

White Goddess is not introductory and more than a little controversial. Grave's Greek Myths is also to be approached with caution, but is more accessible.

For source material, try Ovid's Metamorphoses. It's actually a fun read.

For India, dated but fascinating is M.M. Kaye's The Sun in the Morning: My Early Years in India and England.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:50 AM on July 5, 2012

The Poetic Edda (Hollander has the more poetic translation) is a good source for Norse Mythology. Jenny Blaine wrote an amazing mix of scholarly and personal experiences in Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic: Ecstasy and Neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism, which I can't recommend enough. There's also Our Troth, which has the bonus of being free but on webpages. In general, though, Yggdrasil is spoken of only briefly in the lore, in Grimnirsmal and Voluspa.

'Dance of Anger' or 'Dance of Intimacy' by Harriet Lerner are a good introduction for Family Systems (a very applicable subset of psychology).

I'm also very fond of Gabor Mate's writing, and Oliver Sack's writing - for modern psych - both are psychiatrists who write moving and insightful case studies (though in Mate's case, his are more self-revealing). A lot of what you pick up depends on your interests, but I've not read or heard anything I didn't find fascinating from either man. 'Reviving Ophelia' by Mary Pipher is a series of case studies of teenage clients of hers.

Michael Conforti is a modern theorist who started with Jung's later works (many of which weren't translated to English) and stepped out from there - a lot on Archetypal Fields and the like with a lot of Jung's racism neatly excised; I've read his 'Form, Field' and Fate' several times.

'Freud and Man's Soul' by Bruno Bettleheim is a very brief book about the translation problems which created more of a comflict between Freud and Jung in English than there was in German (for example, the word Seele was used by both men, but translated "mind" for Freud and "soul" for Jung). I found it was critical to my understanding both men, though it gave no insight into their later issues.

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks is a fascinating first person account of schizophrenia.

I'mf orgetting tons more, but I'll try to remember to check my library when I get home.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:21 PM on July 5, 2012

Thanks everyone!
posted by chrillsicka at 6:24 AM on July 6, 2012

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