Books That Inspire 2009

The Sketch Book
Washington Irving

My first brush with Washington Irving’s work came very early in life when I was terrified and fascinated with Walt Disney’s interpretation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." I’m not sure how old I was, but it was well before I attended school. When I later read the original story, I discovered that Irving’s own words were even more descriptive and evocative of a time and place and a new country than anything Disney’s best efforts could conjure. Irving’s work created in me a taste for the short story as a journey in descriptive words rather than just the culmination of a plot, and a life-long desire to learn more about the early Americans who shaped this country. Irving was born near the end of the Revolutionary War, and his writing reflects a culture that was moving from thinking of itself as British to having a distinctly “American” flavor and voice in nearly every aspect of life. Irving also is famous for changing images of the Native Americans and bringing their plight to many readers. One of the best ways to experience Irving is to read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" aloud near Halloween, preferably in front of a burning fireplace. The story is perfect for the richness of the language, the vivid descriptions, and the spine-tingling and delightful chase of the Headless Horseman near the end.

Connie G. Smith
Marketing / PR Specialist
Oklahoma Geological Survey