2017 Summer Reading List: Bradford Wolfenden

Suggestions by BGSU alumnus and author Bradford Wolfenden ’03

Contributed by Bradford Wolfenden ’03

The mind is something to be challenged, enticed, spelunk’d, hung up on, called back, and if neglected the many paths you have carved will cave in and will require excavation. It is not a well and you will never run out of water. The rope of the bucket may break, the bucket itself may need to be replaced, but if you care (and dare) you will find that it will provide the hydration the soul requires.           

My time with the Creative Writing program at Bowling Green State University changed my melon’s life and I’ll forever be thankful for my instruction there. The end result is that my mind is now a furnace that I can’t stop filling and I hope the same for all of you. I’m currently listening to an audiobook during my commutes to work while reading two novels and two comic books. I’ve recently published my first book, co-authored with a dear friend I met at BGSU, and there are plenty more in the back pocket where that came from. To quote Walt Whitman: “Unscrew the locks from the doors!/ Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!” Here are five books to get you through the last gasp of summer and to help build up your mental wrists for the unscrewing ahead.   

TheLastCall

“The Last Call”

By Tim Powers

An incredible book by one of the best fiction writers our nation possesses. This is typically filed under Fantasy, but that’s because they don’t know what to do with it. It involves the origins of Las Vegas, the tarot card origins of our standard playing card deck, the legend of the Fisher King, and the possible healing powers of a can of Coors Light. I’ll never not consider how the smoke hangs over a poker table after reading it.    

MysteryTrain

“Mystery Train”

By David Wojahn

A book of poetry that fuses anecdotes from classic rock, American history, and even the Vietnam War with the author’s own musings on life circa 1990. I found it riveting, and it was my gateway drug into enjoying poetry as a reader, being a fan of both music and history.        

MinorCharacters

“Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir”

By Joyce Johnson

This was the first time the illusion of a hero was shattered and rebuilt with actual life and loss and imperfections and good and bad decisions. It was informative and furthering and reminds one that we are at once the pebble and the ripples after it is cast into the pond. It’s also where I learned that a cup of coffee can count as a meal if enough sugar and cream is used.  

Siddhartha

“Siddhartha”

By Hermann Hesse

I gave a copy of this book to the groomsmen at my wedding as I consider it a true gift. This is a book that will inform many aspects of one’s life at many different times, even in contrasting ways than before. It unfolds like the river Siddhartha crosses many times and is just as wonderful to walk alongside. It tells the story of a man from riches to rags and back again both physically and spiritually.

TheNameoftheWind

“The Name of the Wind”

By Patrick Rothfuss

This book and its sequel are some of the best Fantasy I’ve ever read, but at the same time written so well that it doesn’t need the typical frameworks of creatures and magic. It starts out as an Innkeeper telling his tale to a Chronicler and the places it takes you are just incredible. A true vacation for the mind and a thrilling coming of age tale.  

Bradford K Wolfenden II received his Bachelor of Fine Art from BGSU in 2003 and lives in Norwood, Ohio, with his wife, Arllyss. He is a musician, poet and crafter. His most recent work, Aviary, coauthored with Seth Berg ’03, was published in January 2017 via Civil Coping Mechanisms.