Christopher Busch is a professor of English at Hillsdale College. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How long have you been teaching, and what has been the most rewarding aspect of the job?
This is my 31st year at Hillsdale. I think I taught my first college class, which was in San Diego, in 1985. The most rewarding part is the students.
If you could sit down and have lunch with any person, who would it be?
My wife, who passed away. For someone else, I would say Jackson Browne. He’s a ’70s rock singer, Hall of Fame.
What is one of the most interesting words by spelling, meaning, or just how we say it?
I like the word emblematic.
Who is one of your favorite literary characters?
In Willa Cather’s novel called “My Antonia,” the main character Antonia. She has a lot of challenges and a lot of hardship, but she has a very strong spirit, and I really admire the way that she pushes through things and has a tremendous vision for her life and for her children’s lives.
If you could have been the author of any book, what would you choose?
For some reason, Norman Maclean’s book “A River Runs Through It” comes to mind. I don’t know why. I haven’t read it for a long time, but that would be the one.
If you could master a trade or a skill, what would you choose?
One would be carpentry but another I’d like would be welding. I would love to be able to make metal garden art.
How do you unwind?
I get a glass of wine, and I’ll just go for a walk in the woods. I love just being outside, and when I walk out the door, I feel immediately better. I’m often planning landscaping projects and things like that, and it really allows me to unwind.
Has there ever been a book that you finished and thought, “I wish I wouldn’t have spent the time on this book?”
“Light in August” by Faulkner. I had to force myself to finish that one. All the Faulkner people will not like that, but that was a tough one to get through.
What is something that time has taught you?
Probably the most important one is that nothing in terms of life is guaranteed, and so try to slow down. It’s kind of a cliche but to experience the moment as much as I can and to have gratitude.
Do you have any irrational fears?
I’m not good with heights, so I don’t do well on roofs. Also, sometimes getting this sense of foreboding, like something’s going to happen, a sense of dread almost. And finally, I’m not really good in the dark when the wind is blowing, and I can’t really hear what’s around.
If you had to have one song playing in the back of your head forever, which song would it be?
Probably one by John Denver called “Rhymes and Reasons.” I think he said at one time it was his favorite song, but it’s a very deep song and a very beautiful song in a lot of ways.