Cozyin up with some books


CatholicMom-booknotes-logoMy reading binge continues. I keep waiting for it to…well, to slow down, but it hasn’t yet. Dare I hope that this is the new normal, this ability to eat books like they’re chips? (No, I’m not fooled. But I’m enjoying it while it lasts.)

Recent Reads

The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, by Richard Rohr (Crossroad Publishing, 2009)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My editor told me to read this. So I did. And…well, it was good. I can’t decide if it changed my world or if it put words to things I had already sorta had in the back of my mind. It did make me want to read more of and about the mystics themselves–I expected to have some tangible examples from and of the mystics, but there weren’t. Even so, I enjoyed this book and the perspective it gave me. I suspect it planted seeds within me that will continue to grow as I keep thinking about all it said.

Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters, by Amy Andrews & Jessica Mesmith Griffith (Loyola Press, 2013)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a true WOW book for me. I love reading letters anyway, and the way these letters were compiled and written gave it a feel almost of eavesdropping on intimate conversations and faith journeys. Calling it that, though, makes it seem less monumental than it seemed while I was reading it. It’s an honest, candid, and heart-wrenching examination of life and faith and life some more. I don’t recommend it lightly, but I do highly, highly recommend it.

Something More: The Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, by Randy Hain (Liguori Publications, 2013)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book, Randy Hain taps into the wisdom he has access to as an executive. It goes across faith traditions (without shoving any of them down your throat), ages, and the industries. In his search to clarify what a “meaningful life” is all about for busy professionals, Hain truly captures some gems and a lot of advice everyone could use. This is a business book unlike any I’ve read before, and I enjoyed it and will recommend it to the business professionals in my life.

Bring Lent to Life: Activities & Reflections for Your Family, by Kathleen M. Basi (Liguori Publications, 2011)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m planning to use this book with my own family for Lent, but reading it only solidified why I chose it. It’s concise but encompassing, and while it has plenty of suggestions, it also gives you, the planning parent, the easy ability to adjust to what works best for your family. There are a few recipes for actual food, craft ideas I think even I can do, and ways to integrate Lent into the very discussion of your family. I think it will be a great resource for my family this Lent, and I’ll bet it will help a lot of other families too. Check it out!

Current Reads

Living the Beatitudes: A Journey to  Life in Christ, by J. Brian Bransfield (Pauline Books & Media, 2011)

I started this book rather accidentally (as I mentioned last week), but I have been enjoying it so much as I read it each morning. I’ve finished the first four chapters. Bransfield’s examination of the Samaritan woman is so poignant and beautifully written. His examination of sin is the best I’ve read in a long time (maybe ever). The other day, I couldn’t help but share this on Facebook:

When we make the Sign of the Cross our hand moves from our forehead to waist to shoulders while we announce: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” This action and phrase begins the Mass, other liturgical celebrations, and our prayers. It is used for blessings. These words and actions are not just ritualized ceremony, but they actually bring something about. They confess our faith in the Triune God and unite us to him. Where God is present, evil cannot be present; therefore these words and actions enfold us in the presence of God and thus drive away the influence of evil.

Have you ever thought about the Sign of the Cross that way? I haven’t crossed myself the same since.

How Far Is It to Bethlehem: The Plays and Poetry of Frances Chesterton, compiled & edited by Nancy Carpentier Brown (CreateSpace, 2012, Collection)

There is something so delightfully old-fashioned about Frances Chesterton’s plays. I read three (or was it four?) of them this weekend, and my eight-year-old, seeing what I was reading, asked about it. When I told her they were plays, she said, “Well, it’s MUCH EASIER to act out plays than to read them.” Well, duh. Frances wrote these plays with the intention that the children who came to the Chestertons’ for their Christmas party would act them out. It’s given me quite some images of Frances and Gilbert (G.K.), thinking of them hosting these great parties with children having plays (and everyone watching the plays). Fun stuff.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (Crown Publishers, 2012)

I thought I was picking this book up (in addition to being a review book) because my husband is an introvert and I am an extrovert. Oh, and I’m sorta a personality-stuff geek. After reading a bit of it (it’s VERY good), I now suspect I may be part introvert (shall I blame my husband?) and that the real power of the world lies in these strong and quiet types who seem to be all around me. I’m really enjoying it–it’s a bit like peering into my favorite people’s brains (how do I end up surrounded by so many introverts?) and finding out how they tick. I expect I’ll learn a lot, too, about how to better harness my own introverted side.

New to My Review Shelf

Filling the God-Shaped Void: A Book of Daily Meditations, by Penny Mary Hauser, MSN (Liguori Publications, 2012)

There’s something to be said for books of daily meditations, and what’s not to love about the title of this one? (The cover’s spiffy too, but we’re not supposed to judge on that…) I probably won’t read it as it’s intended (daily), but I do intend to read it. 😉

In Filling the God-Shaped Void Penny Mary Hauser looks at ways to approach the issues of anxiety and personal struggle using perspectives that touch the truth of who we are. She addresses the “God-shaped void” that every struggling person faces, acknowledging the constant challenges and brings a daily message filled with God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness. These daily meditations offer a Christ-centered guide for daily spiritual growth during this challenging time and always.

Salt & Light: The Commandments, the Beatitudes, and a Joyful Life, by Mark P. Shea (Servant Books, 2013)

This is a book I’m really looking forward to reading. Here’s the official description:

Salt and Light offers a fresh perspective on the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, showing how these two pillars of Christian moral teaching complement each other. The Ten Commandments are the “ground floor,” providing the bare minimum contours of the moral life. The Beatitudes, by contrast, point us to a way we can live our lives as creatures intended to share in the life of God. Mark Shea, in his engaging style, introduces the modern reader (who often thinks of the moral life as a list of dos and don’ts) to a fuller grasp of Catholic moral teaching as part of the process of being transformed by the Holy Spirit and living joyfully in virtue, not merely as a rule keeper. Salt and Light reveals the commandments as showing us our brokenness and pushing us toward the Savior—and then points the reader to the way to ultimate happiness: our beatitude.

This book is an excellent companion volume to The Work of Mercy, which examines the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and is a rich exploration of the Church’s moral and social teaching.

What have YOU been reading lately?

*Are you on Goodreads? I’ll see you there!

Curious about what my ratings mean? Here’s an explanation of what the stars mean to me.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard


About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.


  1. The Table Reader on

    I love a good book-list, and I’m looking forward to checking some of these out, especially during Lent! I’m wondering about “The Naked Now,” though – a couple flags went up. The first one was that it’s a book about Christian mysticism that doesn’t refer much to the Christian mystics themselves. That could be okay, but when I went to to take a look at the summary, reviews, & table of contents, there were a lot of quasi-Eastern-religion (Buddhist, etc.) elements that jumped out at me. I’m something of a fan of “mindfulness”, not as a prayer technique but just as a focusing / relaxation (& childbirth!) technique, but this book seems go wading into much riskier territory, including an understanding of contemplation that appears to be closer to a Buddhist / New-Age approach to spirituality than it is to St. John of the Cross. I haven’t read the book myself, but I did just place a hold-request for it from my library so that I can look at it in more detail – my chief reference will be the letter “On Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” (worth a read if you haven’t already!).

    • I don’t think The Naked Now is perfect and I didn’t read it with an eye toward doctrinal perfection. I know Rohr is one of those questionable sorts, but…well, it got me thinking about a few things. I will be reading the actual mystics a bit now, and I do think there is something to be said for some of the thing Rohr brings up in the book.

      That said, it should be read carefully. Because he embraces and is comfortable with many things that I think take some caution to approach.

      Now, I’m off to check out that cool link you left… 🙂

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