Sometimes — or, if I’m honest, often — I long for a good novel. I found recently, though, that there can be too much of a good thing.
(And this, I’m reminded again, is why we have Lent. Ah, the wisdom of Mother Church!)
I had a stretch where I didn’t have any reviews due and I was caught up on work reading. There was nothing but a pile of library books and my own bookshelves ahead of me, and there was nothing to say I couldn’t just binge on fiction as much as I wanted.
And boy, did I ever.
I found, though, that it was like too much fresh cream: good at first, but a bit too much after a while.
So I bring you, on the eve of the biz-biz-busiest time of the year, three books that are quick reads and not fiction. They’re books you can skim or read slowly, savoring them in bits and pieces.
They’re also books I truly enjoyed reading … and I hope you will, too!
By Laurie M. Brock (Paraclete Press, 2018)
I’m a horse girl and always have been. Since I rediscovered this about myself about a decade ago, I’ve longed for something that linked my faith and my equine affinities.
Imagine my delight, then, to see that Laurie Brock had written something that seemed to meet me in my barn, knee deep in hay.
“I have a love affair with horses and their way of communicating,” Brock writes in the very first sentence of the introduction.
I knew I was in the right place.
This collection of 17 essays explores Brock’s struggles in faith and life through the lens of her relationship and interaction with horses.
That may sound weird … unless you’ve ever had a favorite animal in your life. Might I suggest that you dog lovers out there might find yourself nodding? That those of you with a cherished cat may smile and enjoy this?
But it’s not just that. Brock is something of a poetic writer: Her prose paints an image and all but brings the smell of leather into your living room. She bares herself, makes herself vulnerable, and represents the very best (and sometimes the not-so-great) about horsemanship.
In fact, what Brock unpacks and shares is true for all of us. And it’s a lovely journey. Highly recommended…whether you’re in love with horses or just looking for an excellent book to enjoy.
By Jared Dees (Ave Maria Press, 2018)
Have you ever picked up a book and found yourself galvanized, unable to put it down? I happened upon this new book by Jared Dees right as I was getting ready to dive back into duties as a catechist after quite a few years off. It was in a new parish, for a Confirmation group, and my daughter was in the class.
And I was more than a little unsure of myself.
Though I’ve taught Confirmation classes before — and quite a few other grades, too — there was just some seed of doubt spreading and growing within me.
I was gripped by Jared Dees’ excellent writing and practical approach. “One of my mantras for religious education is to ‘make disciples, not theologians,’” he writes in the introduction, and I determined that not only was he a catechist after my own heart, but that I wanted to be this kind of catechist, intentionally.
This book is not only eminently readable (that is Dees’ way), but it is also useful in a “here you go, right this very minute” kind of way. Dees has the gift of taking a complicated philosophy — or something we have made complicated, anyway — and boiling it down.
We’re sharing the Good News. We’re not solving differential equations. (And thank God for that, I say!)
The basis of Dees’ approach in this book is lectio divina and making that the basis for your approach and execution of your catechesis. (That’s a fancy way of saying he’s helping you share the Good News of Christ.) The book’s divided into five parts in addition to the introduction and conclusion: Learn, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate, and Act.
This is the kind of book that’s easy to tap back into on a quick reread. It’s also the kind of book you can share with anyone who’s teaching and sharing the Catholic faith.
By Jeannie Ewing (En Route Books & Media, 2017)
“In this book,” writes Jeannie Ewing in her introduction, “we will journey together through this spiritually fruitful aspect of our lives that we call waiting.”
And you won’t scream. Even if you want to.
I mean, who likes waiting?
And why would you want to read a book about waiting?
Well. I don’t really have a good answer for either, but I can assure you that, while this isn’t an easy read, it is a worthwhile read.
Ewing dives into a distasteful topic (that we would all like to avoid) in a way that’s thorough and challenging. In under 120 pages, she manages to cover the difficulty of waiting, the way God reaches out to us in waiting, opportunities we’ll find in waiting, spiritual benefits, and encouragement.
I know. I KNOW.
“The longer we wait, the greater the blessing,” she assures us. “Brief bursts of waiting bring forth goodness and bounty, but the greatest graces come from the longest droughts and darkest trials. Wait, then, with God, and continue to seek Him even if He chooses to quiet Himself for a time.”
This is a book worth reading for the wisdom it bears. It’s a book to revisit and dip back into. Ewing has tapped into wisdom that we need, especially as we lose our attention spans in the face of the digital age of now-now-NOW.
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Copyright 2018 Sarah Reinhard
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