Book Talk: A New Year, a New Pile o' Books


Well, 2013 was the Year of Reading, it seems. I shared my “best of” list last week, and today we’re back to the usual. I didn’t get nearly the reading done over Christmas that I longed to, but that doesn’t mean my pile isn’t continuing to grow…

book talk a new year new pile

Recent Reads


A Rich Young Man: A Novel Based on the Life of Saint Anthony of Padua, by John Edward Beahn (fiction, Tan Books, 1953, 2013)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Maybe I do like historical fiction. Or maybe (as I maintain), I just like good writing.

That’s what this is: good writing. Tan Books is doing all of us a service, making these books available. It’s fiction that’s heartening. It’s entertaining and educational.

Did I mention it’s good writing? Well then. Go read it.


Chesterton Is Everywhere, by David Fagerberg (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2013)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

How many ways can I say “truly delightful” before you start to ignore me? I’m a fan of Chesterton, though I haven’t read as much of him as I should.

Fagerberg is as entertaining as Chesterton. This is one of those books that I’m glad I didn’t start dog-earing, because the whole book would be a crumpled mess. I was laughing and snorting and nodding.

It’s a collection of essays, and it’s as refreshing as it is insightful. Good writing. You’ll be a better person for having read it: and maybe that’s because you’ll have enjoyed it so much.


Mrs. Appleyard’s Year, by Louise Andrews Kent (audio courtesy of Forgotten Classics)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I think I want to be Mrs. Appleyard when I grow up, but lacking that, I want to be Julie Davis, who has a knack for introducing me to authors and stories and genres I would have never touched on my own. This is one such book. Listening to it tapped me into a culture that I loved. In the last installment, Julie mentioned that she was able to relax when she read it. And yes, that’s how I felt listening. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

Current Reads


Momnipotent: The Not-So Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood, by Danielle Bean (advance copy) (Ascension Press, expected publication May 2014)

Oh, the joy! Oh, the bliss! Oh, the excitement! When a favorite author has a book coming out and you get a chance to read it…ahhhhhh. This, my friends, is the very definition of happy times for my book self.

A few chapters in, and I’m already examining myself and feeling like there’s a girlfriend drinking coffee with me. Bean has that effect on me as a reader: she comes right through the page with her no-nonsense why-yes-I-will-wear-cute-heels-and-pass-you-an-energy-drink way of doing business. Theology of the Body for moms? Is that even a thing?

It is now, and I can think of no better person to be behind it. Reading this book is pure treat for me.

Well, except for the “get off your duff and address this and this and that and…” Or maybe it’s just the beginning of the year. Hmm…


The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis (fiction)

This is one of my very favorite books. Of all time. Ever.

I read it for the second time in 2006, and I’ve read it a number of times since then (at least three). So when the ladies in my fiction book club gave me the chance to recommend a book, it just sort of slipped out.

And wow, as I reread it, I realize just how much I need to read it. It’s an examination of conscience, made easier to swallow (and believe) because of the humor.

There aren’t many books I reread. Maybe I just haven’t read the right stuff over the years…


The Voyage to Alpha Centauri, by Michael O’Brien (fiction, Ignatius Press, 2013)

Oh! Oh! Oh! I soooooo intended to finish this between Christmas and New Year’s, but since I haven’t, I don’t know when I will. I’ve been plotting how to lock myself up for a day or three and just binge-read, but it’s unlikely anyone will fall for that.

I’m not quite halfway (and this is short by O’Brien’s writing standard), so I’m looking at another 8-10 hours of reading. What a lovely problem to have, with a book that’s captured me…and that terrifies me.

In typical O’Brien fashion, he grows his characters, gets his world so colorful you forget you’re not actually there, and then BAM. Owns ya.

Up Next


St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found…and Then Lost and Found Again, by Thomas J. Craughwell (Image Books, 2014)

Confession: before I wrote about this book and interviewed the author, I didn’t really intend to read it. I have QUITE a pile to read, thanks, and this just seemed better suited to someone else, anyone who, you know, wasn’t me. But now I’m hooked without even reading a word. I love it hate it when that happens!

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 2014, 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. Nice book pile, Sarah. I’ve got a pile myself with about 40% overlap with your pile. Working on “A Big Heart Open to God,” and “St. Peter’s Bones” currently…but also devouring as much as I can on Gospel of Luke as I am leading a Bible study on that this year. Check my blog ( every other Wednesday starting tomorrow if you’re interested in my notes/lessons. 🙂

    • Only 40% overlap? Why don’t we have you posting reviews for us yet? HUH??? 🙂

      I am interested in the Bible study, but I have to say no right now. Hoping you continue with that so I can jump in later… 🙂

  2. Yay books! This year I am going to read a bunch of modern fiction, on top of my usual theology. I love the classics, but struggle with a lot of modern fiction’s quality. I will have to watch out for your suggestions.

  3. So curious to hear what you’ll think about the O’Brien book – I don’t even DARE open the cover until my draft of “Yes” is turned into my editor!. Nice list. And JEALY that you have momnipotent & I don’t!

    • Ohhhhh, O’Brien. If I ever meet him, I will probably kiss him. (So I guess we should all pray that I don’t, eh?)

      Oh yes, but you KNOW you will have Momnipotent soon. Bet it got eaten in transition or something…

  4. Thanks, Sarah. I have a pile of books I want to read too although your pile looks way neater than mine! (at least for the photo?)I finished reading The Crucifixion of Jesus: A forensic Inquiry, by Frederick T. Zugibe,MD, PhD, for an article I wrote. Such a good read! Next up- The Collected Works of Edith Stein (all 4 volumes). Wish me luck!

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