ON MY SHELF – JAMES LEE BURKE

Off the Shelf – Take a look at your bookcase. If you had enough free time, which book would be the first one you’d like to reread? Why?


A few days ago, I finished “Wayfaring Stranger,” the latest, greatest book by James Lee Burke, one of my top five favorite authors. It was a good read. Maybe a great read. It made me hunger for more of that special JLB magic.

books james lee burke

So there I am, looking through my bookshelves and I realize I have every hardcover edition of the past 20 years of James Lee Burke, many of them signed by the hand of the Master.

I’d like to reread at least a few of them, maybe start the Dave Robicheaux series from the beginning. Read them in hardcover and paper and sniff the ink, feel the binding give just  a little. It would be a trip back to when books had heft, a feel, a scent. I sometimes miss that. I love my Kindle and my audiobooks, but sometimes … I miss the smell of printer’s ink.

20 thoughts on “ON MY SHELF – JAMES LEE BURKE

  1. Actually just took down the book that I’ve been wanting to read again and have been sort of afraid of. James Hillman. Revisioning psychology.
    The title of the book reminded me of Emmylou Harris’s song, “wayfaring stranger.” I love Emmylou

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    • As far as I’m concerned, if I like it, I don’t care what it is. It could be a comic book. For me, the issue is, always was, always will be — am I enjoying it? Life is challenging enough. I don’t need literature to challenge me. I need it to entertain me. If it also makes me think, enlightens me, that’s a bonus. But if it just engages me, that’s more than enough.

      I liked this series too and read the whole thing. There is a full dramatic version of it on Audible. I don’t usually like radio drama, but that’s a particularly good one.

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  2. I recall days of my childhood spent in our town library, sitting in a corner of the reading area deciding which books to check out for home reading. I read every book in that small library and enjoyed great adventures.

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    • Me too. Our local library was tiny by any standards, but it was the one close enough to walk to. I remember coming back from there — it was nearly a mile — carrying as many as 10 books, the maximum allowed to a customer. I read them all in a week and a half.

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  3. You have introduced me to a writer I did not know. I am sure he is well known over the pond, but I did not discover him and neither did Mr. Swiss. I am so glad to find something new and so James Lee Burke will be downloaded on my Kindle definitely. It seems to be in my line of things. Is David Robicheaux a Louisiana Harry Bosch? I will find out. In the meanwhile I will continue with the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

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  4. Maybe take an oldie for a reread — along with the new ones on kindle — for vacation.”Something to do.” (“The Train Robbers”)

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  5. I remember discovering JLB as a 19 year old heavily steeped in European literature (which was all that English schools taught). He was an absolute revelation and I still adore him more than almost any other American author (he was my gateway author to all your other greats). I’ve read The Tin Roof Blowdown so often my copy is falling apart, very jealous you have hardcovers, we only get his in paperback.

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    • I believe he’s one of the great American authors of this century, even though he writes mostly mysteries and procedurals. If William Faulkner wrote mysteries, he would have been JLB. I’m glad you love his writing. My favorite is “In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead.” It was also the first of his books I read. I’m on my third copy. The others fell apart from too much reading.

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  6. Fewer and fewer people are reading. I don’t read much myself anymore. I wonder what effect this will have in our world? Our libraries, for instance? Everybody seems to have a gadget they are playing with instead. If it’s not moving .. or not electronic, people seem to be losing interest. ??? Will the Classic die? Lost through lack on interest – or use?

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    • I do less reading in print, but more listening to audiobooks. That’s not a gadget issue … it’s my eyes getting old. I couldn’t read most of the stuff I read as a kid. Even on Kindle, I have problems keeping my eyes focused. This getting old thing is for the birds. Or something. Not for me, for sure.

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      • I had a friend who used to listen to the taped Classics in his car. He felt he wasn’t sufficiently educated on them. Not possible to ingest it all, of course. But I so wonder what they are teaching in schools these day. ??

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        • They are not teaching the classics, at least not in high school. They probably still are teaching them if you take English Literature in college, but in high school, they are happy if they can get kids to read at all. Anything.

          I don’t listen to classics. I listen to whatever I enjoy. I actually did read all that stuff in school and while some of it was good, a lot of it was pretty dull. I figure at this stage of life, I don’t have anyone left to impress. It’s pure entertainment now.

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          • A lot of stuff I didn’t appreciate in school, I did later. Was glad I was introduced to it. It’s sort of like being forced to learn piano. You’d rather be playing baseball, but after you’ve hung up your cleats, you usually appreciate the piano.

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