Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I’ve been silent on the subject of books, but with Christmas booty, I’ve had my nose in a book plenty, though not enough. Here are some noteworthy books. I have a set of daily devotionals – A Year with Church Fathers, Laudamus Te, Word Among Us, Magnificat – which are ongoing.
Other books:

Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Fr. Larry Richards. What a find! We had one of his CDs from Lighthouse but his book is wonderful. My son read it – I should say ate it – but I hope he will go back and re-read it slowly. There is so much wisdom here, on how to stay focused on the final goal (heaven), being a man who lives as a beloved son, a man who repents, who is strong, who is loving, wise and above all strives to be holy. Buy this book for the man or boy in your life. Read it with him and discuss it.

Medjugorje: The Message by Wayne Weible. This is a fascinating account of a Lutheran journalist who investigates the Marian apparitions taking place in a little-known place in Yugoslavia, and who is transformed by the messages he receives from our Holy Mother, and his total dedication to bringing the message of Medjugorje to the world. What is the message? A call to conversion – through prayer, fasting, confession, studying the Word, and receiving the Eucharist. Here is the Vatican's position on Medjugorje. It is still under investigation ... many believe it is the continuation of the Marian apparitions at Fatima.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I came across this book on Kristi Holl’s blog and had to read it for myself. When I became a mother, I instinctively rejected the electronic medium for our children. They grew up much as I did, engaged in the physical world, but as I became more engaged in the digital world, so did they, and I see how we’re all changing, and not necessarily for the better. I love the ease and access of information, but I also suffer from information overload. I love that I am *connected* and but also dislike the distractions of being so connected. A few years ago, I realized that I need to have the Internet off while I'm working so that I'm not compelled to look up a fact. As a nonfiction writer, I tend to assemble all my research and absorb it before I even begin writing, but there are always holes and the Internet makes it easy. However, the flow of words becomes stilted if I'm constantly looking things up as I write. So now, I write LOOK UP X and keep on writing. I started taking breaks from the net during Advent and Lent, and it was freeing.

Carr’s book is a history of technology and how it changes us. Always there are consequences. The ubiquitous use of it by children is especially frightening – they think they know things, but their knowledge is superficial. And they are losing the ability to concentrate and contemplate because reading on the net is inherently interrupted. Hyperlinks to other books, songs, and videos distract from deep reading. How many of you read this post first in its entirety, and then clicked on the book links above? Good for you! How many of you got to the end? Don't answer. More and more, people cannot seem to read more than a paragraph at a time without their attention flitting elsewhere. This is an entertaining yet sobering book. And I realize that as we hurtle into the digital world, we must try to be intentional, and not let it rule us. This is a must read.

We've been reading Veronica Roth’s books (Divergent, Insurgent) and impatiently waiting for the next in the series, and LOTR. The kids are re-reading White Fang, When You Reach Me, and Marie Lu’s Legend. They are choosing these books for their book reports. We all read Sharon Flake's Pinned. My kids complained that it took time to understand the girl because she struggles with reading, so her voice reflects her disability. But it was an enjoyable read about two very different people, what they value, what holds them back, and how they fall in love. I will spare you the hyperlinks :) You can look these up if you so wish.

I have some money on a gift card left and am debating what to buy – I have some ideas. Anyone care to recommend a must-have book? I’m thinking about a writing book and perhaps a spiritual memoir.


Mirka Breen said...

In the late eighties I recall seeing documentaries and reports about the apparitions in Medjugorje and the young people who this happened to. This was before the then still Yugoslavia plunged into a terrible civil war. I wondered what happened to them.

Gary Ludlam said...

If you are interested in fiction, I can't recommend Father Elijah by Michael O'Brien enough. It is a rare combination of quality writing, page-turner plot, and unapologetic Catholicism.

Vijaya said...

Mirka, all six visionaries are still alive and some of them are still receiving messages ... the focus is on peace, peace, peace. Of course, the way things are going, I wonder about world peace.

Gary, thanks for the rec. I have read other books by O'Brien and this is definitely on the radar.

Faith E. Hough said...

I've had bit of The Shallows read aloud to me by my sister-in-law, who loved it. It is rather unnerving how the internet has changed the way our minds work. I do the same thing about writing down "LOOK UP X" so that I won't get distracted.
Fr. Larry Richards is a dear friend of my family--I don't know him as well as some of my siblings, but he's a great priest, even if he hasn't forgiven my older sister for not becoming a nun. :)
For writing, have you read Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft? It's full of excellent advice and exercises.
As for something spiritual, I've been enjoying Father James Martin's Between Heaven and Mirth, as well as his memoir, My Life with the Saints. Or have you read C. S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy? Sort of combines spirituality AND writing. :)

Vijaya said...

Faith, here I thought I'm in control, where in reality my brain is slowly changing ... that's the part that's scary. I'm being more mindful of how I use the net.

You are so lucky to know Fr. Richards. Give him our greetings and blessings the next time you see him. I love the way he speaks -- plainly and honestly, not to mention his great sense of humor.

Thank you for recommending Between Heaven and Mirth. It's on order along with Writing for the 21st Century by Donald Maass. Loved Suprised by Joy by CSL. When I discovered all his NF, I was blown away by it. One of my all-time favorite authors.

Marcia said...

"I've had my nose in a book plenty, though not enough."

Isn't that EXACTLY how it is? :)