Friday, October 20, 2006

Elizabeth Edwards' book list

Elizabeth Edwards, a lawyer who also happens to be the wife of former vice presidential candidate John Edwards, shared a list of books with The Week magazine.

Edwards' new memoir, Saving Graces, recounts her battles to overcome breast cancer and the loss of a teenage son.

Here is half of her list:

The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James

I am drawn to this novel because of the moral depth, and precision, of James’ fiction. As Graham Greene once said, James was the last writer to whom everything, every bit of life, was important. This is the story of a young American woman and the consequences of her decisions. Hers is a great American story, one of the best, of someone raised to be independent who has to discover how independence can survive responsibility.

The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty

I could only skip Harper Lee’s work because I’m able to recommend another stunning Southern novel. Welty’s is a beautiful book for many reasons, for it is about the loss of those we love and yet also about the discovery of how that love remains—despite everything.

Self Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perhaps no one understood the idea of integrity better than Emerson or was able to speak of it better than he did in “Self Reliance.” For him, integrity was not an occasional moral stance; it was the essential central fact of living. Emerson wrote on everything and wouldn’t let things rest—tried to understand what intelligence was, what love was, what loyalty was. There is in Emerson an aspect of the American spirit that is still alive today, or tries to be.

Click here to read Edwards' other three titles.

James' The Portrait of a Lady is available free online here.

Emerson's essays are available free online here.

Lynne Cheney, the wife of the candidate who bested Mrs. Edwards' husband and was re-elected to the vice-presidency in 2004, also writes books.

--Marshal Zeringue