You probably have figured out by now that when it comes to books (much like rosaries) I stalk, hoard and collect them.
Oh sure, I have grand plans to read them in the early morning hours, over a cup of coffee and a scenic wintry backdrop. Alas, it’s more like a constant Black Friday where I am knocking myself over to get to a virtual bookshelf – the next download!
That book would be great for this post or that presentation.
This book “speaks” to me.
I have to have it!!!
I’ve always been this way. Remember Nancy Drew? That was my first chapter book. I have Mrs. Burton to thank for that. I actually have a picture of my very first librarian at school. That should have clued me in on what would become my lifelong passion of writing, books and reading. She recommended the series to me as a good starting point (probably because I couldn’t choose a book at the time – a plague that I struggle with to this day). I chose #15, The Haunted Bridge. I can even remember choosing it because #14, my favorite number was already taken. No matter.
I remember getting caught reading it in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, under the covers.
Oh books. I love them so. They are like much like real relationships; fleeting, turbulent, comfortable, sometimes all consuming. They are always full of memory and worth taking a second stab at to see how they will impact your life again, because now you’re older and wiser. Mrs. Burton brought that out of books. A journey, personal development through character analysis and words.
She was very well put together: cream colored pencil skirts, pale pink angora sweaters, nude pumps and perfectly coiffed hair, always with incredible posture (I’m a sloucher) but mysterious (see picture, what’s she smiling about?!). Not your typical elementary school librarian. Kind of like the Mona Lisa of Librarians, no?
So, Mrs. Burton, I am sure you are in Heaven – with that sly smile – this one is for you:
I am making up for my non-committal nature that day when she showed me some Newberry Award book options and I was still undecided. Here I am…committing.
This will be the year of greats for me – with books. I have to get some of these classics under my belt. I just have to. So let’s start with C.S. Lewis. My list will have to include:
- The Four Loves audio style with a a fellow commenter here who suggested this method for reading it. I want to deepen my understanding of agape – my word for 2014. Did you come up with a word for 2014? Leave it in the comments! I just love Emily’s over at Living Adventurously. Simply complicated and complicatedly simple.
- A Year with C.S. Lewis (waking up to a little something of his everyday will keep my snark in check!) The flap in the jacket says that these meditations are culled from Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles and A Grief Observed, as well as from the distinguished works The Weight of Glory and The Abolition of Man. I think I paid $9.99 for this book a few years ago?? Let’s knock’er out. If you want to read with me, download a copy for $3.79 and let’s get our C.S. Lewis on!
- C. S. Lewis by A.N. Wilson – for no other reason other than I
stoleborrowed it from my Dad. It’s a biography, so let’s see what else I can squeeze outta this guy, er, um Mr. Lewis.
I am sure I’ve shared my nightstand of books with you, but have you seen this? It’s another bookshelf out in the hallway. FULL of books. Granted, it was worse. I had books on top of these, squeezed in, begging for air.
So, I took some of them and brought them to my local library (got some looks there, let me tell you. Probably because I brought all 86 of them in about 20 minutes before the end of the day. Not that she had to log and shelve them that day…but I would have given myself an eyeslap too.
Simarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. I just saw the second installment of The Hobbit and I want to expand my Hobbit realm. I read an interesting piece by Br. Edmund McCullough, O.P. over at Dominicana Blog titled Tolkien and Hope.
Br. McCullough, O.P. writes:
Seeing light on the far side is a motif that pervades Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Both works illustrate a patience, a looking to the horizon, of a sort we’re no longer good at. Of course we don’t always mind difficulty, even intense difficulty, but we would like to be over with it on a timetable. And while it’s going on, we also have to know exactly what it’s for, what it’s producing, and why we’re going to be better for it when it’s over.
I also received an email from someone this morning, we’ll call her M – and she shared some sentiments that were on her heart for me. This was on my list before reading this post and receiving the email, but now? Has to happen. Too many nudges. I can no longer deny the teachings I know will come about from this book.
Dante’s The Divine Comedy: The Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. I read parts of all of these in college years ago. I feel like now, with my Catholic eyes, it’s going to be a whole new experience, just like Mrs. Burton said. Of course, this is quite the tall order, but with an opening like this, how could I turn away?
Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off from the straight path.
How hard is it to tell what it was like
this wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn
(the thought of it brings back all my old fears),
a bitter place! Death could scarce be bitterer.
But if I would show the good that came of it
I must talk about things other than the good.
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (Guttenberg *free* version) Can you believe I have never, ever read Chesterton? Ever? Just a morsel for you:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I don’t know how I haven’t picked this up and read it at least three times. I purchased the book a few weeks ago and I am prioritizing it. Want to know something else? I hope you’re sitting. I’ve never, ever seen The Sound of Music. I think you all just fainted.
I was bummin around on vacation – it was wonderful – and I came across this call to read City of God in a year on Facebook, via First Things. Ever read anything by St. Augustine of Hippo? Me either. Why not do it with other people who could know WAY more than you? Intimidating? Nah. Just ask questions because there’s a group for that! Starts January 6th and there’s a reading plan (suggested, of course). A group member even shared an librivox link *read free again!* and I am all for that! If you prefer hardcopy or ebook <— all about the free, those are available too.
I hope to see you in the group!
Paradise, Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock. You may be thinking, what the heck are you talking about? Stay with me. Before I was Catholic I was a book nerd – that has never changed. I would go to bookstores in NYC and pick up books that grabbed me. This one did and never let go. Over the years – much like relationships – I lost it. I had forgotten about it. It was in the writing of this blog that I remembered it. I remembered what it did for me. It’s quite the memoir. The author is a poet.
When I visited NYC last with my Lay Dominican chapter, I walked through a tunnel with them to get from one side of Manhattan to the other. I’d walked that tunnel a million times. I didn’t think anything of it. But the walking, the retracing of steps sat with me. A few weeks later, instantly and without warning, like a flip book, I remembered the poetry I read on NYC subway cars and this book came into focus. I had to find it. My white rabbit book. The connection? The author was the President of the Poetry Society of America from 1989 to 1995. Why is that important? She continues to advise its Poetry in Motion series on the nation’s subways and buses (started in NYC, I think).
I read this book on my commutes to and from work. Ahem, before ebooks. I would see poetry above me and behind me. It was a connection that made this book and its author real to me. I had to read it again. I had to find it. Thus my quest began and I found it!!
The author doesn’t know it and probably never will, but she inspired me, with this book, to write. Just a snippet from her webpage:
“If I could have told that girl, who waited to hear her father’s car crawl up the driveway, that things would never be as bad as they were at that moment, I think she would not have believed me. I imagine whispering into her ear, a skinny little shrimp with lank hair wearing a soiled blouse, her face at once both horrified and grim, that her life will be an adventure and that she will become a poet and live in two countries with a boy she would meet very soon. I see her turn her head a little bit on her neck, straightening her slump just a bit, and watch a slow, noncommittal sort of astonishment begin in her spine, delight moving up her vertebrae till it hits the top of her head and moves her shoulders back. I tell her¾she is fourteen years old—that if she holds on for thirty years she’s going to love her life. This girl does not say, “Thirty years! How will I hold on?” She does not complain or hope; instead, she walks. She walks across the empty plain, requiring that emptiness completely. Paradoxically, for her it will become full of creativity.”
I cannot believe I am at the final take. Oh dear. Where did all of my “takes” go? The Beatitudes! I wanted to add that! Darn. I have so much more to share and add, but this is good. I will of course be reading more than this, but this is what I was working with, as inspiration to make this “cut”. I didn’t even look at my Kindle e-book list or my new love Oyster Books. You can find me there if you like, wading in electronic books. Join in on the debauchery.
Lists are good. Focused, short and lean lists are better. There are more than I will read than are on this list, but remember. Mrs. Burton is watching so I will have to stick to a basic plan at the very least.
I will read The Navarre Bible of St. Luke. Why? Because I the saint chose me this year (and I
stole borrowed it from Deacon TC).
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!