Thursday, November 21, 2013

And There Are Books

It's a time of year when minds of young men and old women lightly turn to thoughts of books. 

Yes, I made that sentence up all by myself.

Perhaps I could put it this way.  The air outside is chilling.  Darkness falls early.  There's frost on the punkin, snow in the forecast, a crackling fire beneath the mantel, and a cup of warm tea by my side. 

And of course, a book.

This is also a time when we're thinking about Christmas gifts. Dolls and scooters and toy airplanes (I bought one of each this morning; shhhh, don't tell..). And what better gift than a book?

But there are books, and there are books.  Some transport us to worlds of wonder, and we soar through their pages on words spun together like threads in fine tapestries.  Others read more like a string of sentences akin to the first one in this post.  Not likely to be on any bestseller lists, they. 

Of course, bestseller lists are not the best places to find good reading material.  I know such news is not a shock to anyone reading this, and there are certainly exceptions, but many highly popular offerings are not worth our time (at best) and can (at worst) be harmful to our lives of faith.

I think St. John Bosco gave us perfect guidance on the matter when he wrote "Never read books you aren't sure about... even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view.  Let me ask you this: would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" 

After my recent post on spiritual reading material, I’ve been thinking of writings that have struck me in some way.  Here are just a few, with links to more information about each. 

The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin. An inspiring look at growth in holiness, using the works of seven Doctors of the Church.  One of my favorite books of all time.

Fire Within by Father Thomas Dubay SM. I love anything by Father Dubay, but this one is my favorite.  

Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal, Letters of Spiritual Direction helped me know (and love) both of these saints as human beings. 

And then there are the following three titles, which had me burning the proverbial midnight oil.  I found them (the first in particular) as riveting as novels -  probably because the stories are true.  

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Mother Angelica... by Raymond Arroyo

A Right to be Merry by Mother Mary Francis PCC.  I love Mother's humor! This was written in the (1950s?), but the life has changed little, and hey: a smile is still a smile.....

I want to feed my mind with things that will lead me toward God, never away from Him.  One of the most comprehensive helps I've found, for when I'm considering various topics and even (a few) authors, is a list of links on the Women of Grace Blog.  Even though it does not list specific titles, it does deal with subject matter we might run into when we're considering spiritual books.  I once heard it said that "lies are more believable when they're built on a foundation of half truths."  So I am grateful for the help that can be found by clicking here.

I write this as winds begin to stir outside.  I have a hard time adjusting to this season of early darkness.  My old clock keeps up a steady tick; it chimes on the hour, but never correctly (we decided to call this idiosyncrasy "charming").  I have chamomile tea, a soft afghan, and of course - a book.  

Long Sigh.

Painting:  St Cecilia (detail), John William Waterhouse 

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup


  1. Nancy,

    Ah yes! A good book. The perfect Christmas present. I have ordered books for my nieces and nephews and sisters. I can't reveal what they are because you never know who might be reading this comment! They are all good Catholic novels or spiritual books. Not the usual best sellers but maybe Catholic best sellers. I know they will be appreciated.

    Thank you for your list. I have only one of these books. Off to learn more about the others!

    1. (your secret is safe with me :) ) I'm sure you'll have delighted gift recipients!

      Thank you, Sue!

  2. "I want to feed my mind with things that will lead me toward God, never away from Him." Yes, indeed. Gosh, and it really gets hard to find good ones for young teenage daughters these days, besides what they are suppose to read in their English literature class or what is assigned to them (usually some great Catholic history) for Jr. High Reading book reports. So when they want to branch out, the "recommended" library list isn't a good one, in my opinion. I don't want to prep read everything. I love taking the cues from like-minded friends. You have some good ones up there, by the way. Have fun with your shopping!

    1. I can only imagine how tough it must be now - you are blessed to have like minded friends. I did too, when my children were younger... and thankfully my grandchildren's parents will as well.

      Thanks, Patty!