We asked Dr. James C. Schaap, professor of English at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, to give us a glimpse into what he’s been reading, watching, and listening to lately. Schaap is the author of many books, including several novels and his newest books Honest to God: Psalms for Scribblers, Scrawlers, and Sketchers and Rehoboth, A Place for Us.
Q. What are some favorites you have recently read?
A. I loved City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. I'm just finishing Home by Marilynne Robinson. Both of them I loved. I always enjoy Gina Ochsner, just having finished People I Wanted to Be (second time, for class). And then of course, a sort of avocation of mine—Native American stuff: The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers, which is on my Kindle; as well as The Autobiography of Black Hawk. I loved Judith Shulevitz's The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (and I'd recommend it to anyone who is, as I am, the product of what was once a strictly Sabbitarian home—Shulevitz is Jewish, by the way). Oh yes, our Bible study just finished N.T. Wright’s book about the resurrection, although I can't resurrect the title right now. It was very, very interesting, but I'm not much for reading theology.
Q. What are you hoping to read?
A. Awaiting me is a new biography of Raymond Carver and another of Emily Dickinson, both gifts from my wife, both tomes. They may have to wait until retirement, but I'd love to have the time to read them. And just today in the mail I received a graphic novel titled The Unwritten; one of my former students told me I had to read it to try to figure out what was going on in that new genre. I probably will, soon—it's almost spring break (one class away). Here's some nonfiction I'd love to read—The Most Human Human by Brian Christian. He was on The Daily Show last night, and the book is about the way in which technology is changing our lives (count me among those who believe that it's the first real change in my lifetime—when compared to the automobile, air travel, and a ton of other things my mother and father-in-law experienced—he plowed with horses!). I don't know if I'll read David Brooks’s new book, The Social Animal; it's all about neuroscience, but anything David Brooks writes is, to my knowledge, worth reading.
Q. Titles you love so much you just like to keep them close by?
A. I don't know that I'll ever read them again, but I have a full collection of works by the CRC's own Frederick Manfred, who was from here, from Siouxland. I wouldn't part with them for love or money. He loomed large in my life.
Q. What’s on your playlist?
A. I'm a Pandora person, and my favorite "stations" are Handel, Bach, and Native American flutes. Go figure.
Q. What are you watching and how are you watching it?
A. I LOVED True Grit and The King’s Speech, but my students insist I have to see Inception, which I'm going to watch (a DVD on loan from a passionate student—I doubt I'll like it because my students’ interests are 40 years separate from mine). I love the movie Witness, for its sweet treatment of the Amish, and, of course, Dances with Wolves. Avatar is the only movie I saw twice—and I'd likely see it again for a bunch of reasons, but it doesn't rank with those others—it’s just a visual feast. We're very selective about what we pay for at the theater, but we're Netflix members, so we love old TV shows. I'll pay good money at the theater for almost anything by the Coen Brothers.