“What’s in the Reading Basket” is the start of what I hope will become series for me to share thoughts on what I’m in the middle of reading or what I’ve just finished reading.
I know what you’re thinking… Reading basket?
Okay, I know normal people have a nightstand on or in which they keep their current reading material, but I have a reading basket. Why? Well, partly, because I unconsciously stray as far from the norm as a fat caterpillar from a chicken. (It’s true, ask my husband.) Okay, I guess the real reason is that I live in a studio apartment where it’s hard to find any space for extra furniture. So, I have baskets—lots of them. Thus, the origin story of the Reading Basket!
During this past autumn, I made it my mission to do more things that are edifying, more things that provoke good thought and deep conversation with those around me. In general, I wanted to do the kinds of things that help me to grow as a person and in my spiritual life. The biggest thing on my list was that I wanted to read more.
I wanted to read for pleasure instead of relying on TV or movies to entertain me, especially since I have always felt insufficient in my vocabulary. When I have watched TV, I have been entertained, but I definitely do not learn the way I used to when I constantly had my nose in a book. What better way to gain a broader vocabulary than to read?
Fiction was not the only kind of reading I wanted to do though, I also wanted to read things that would cause me to grow in my Faith. As a new convert into the Catholic Faith, I have felt overwhelmed by the vast amounts of things I do not know still. I am always learning something that I did not know before, in spite of the illuminating year of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes that I attended before my confirmation. Now I think we should always be learning and trying to be the best person we can be, especially in matters of Faith, but I do feel incredibly new to this world of Catholicism. That is why I am always trying to learn and understand more. That leads into the topic of this post: books!
Helena by Evelyn Waugh
I was not sure what to expect when I bought this book. I have heard some wonderful things about Waugh and this one happened to be the first of his books that I picked up. I started it around the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Feast Day so it was wonderful reading for the time! (Helena is based on the life of St. Helena who discovered the true cross.) Waugh considered this novel to be his finest piece and he took much pride in it. Apparently it has been in and out of print, and after reading the work, I understand why a little better. It was a bit of a strange read.
Do not get me wrong though, I very much enjoyed the book! It was such a fascinating story and it held my attention. It was not until near the end of the book though that I decided it was a worthwhile read.
It was in a passage where Waugh gave great insight into those like his heroine.
“Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Treves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus. For his sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.” (Waugh 209)
What insight to the differences of people and the prayer they each need. Waugh compared the shepherds and magi, exploring their differences in the way that they came to see the Lord. Not that either was better than the other, but that they were different.
All in all, I enjoyed the book. It accomplished what I was hoping to accomplish in reading it, which was to grow more in my Faith and read things that would spawn deep thought, allowing me to meditate on the goodness of the Lord.
The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott
I am afraid I do not have much to say about this read mainly because I am not finished with it yet. I have always loved Louisa May Alcott and so far, this book does not disappoint. The language is beautiful and I am delighted to read through it. Alcott has such a charming way in which she weaves a story. If you like Louisa May Alcott and/or Jane Austen novels, you will most likely enjoy this short little read.
Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
Also, I will have to disappoint once more with this one because I have not yet read it. It is on my list of reads, I just have not dived into it yet. I am looking forward to it though because my husband and the priest that taught our RCIA class highly recommend and quote it often.
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
This is a book my mother bought for me a month or so ago and she told me it came highly recommended by her close friends. She told me that she really enjoyed the author in other works and thought it would be a great read for me. Thank you, Mom, for this eye opening read! It focuses on how we as wives can pray for our husbands, but more importantly, how we can help them by praying for ourselves too! She writes about how it is easy for a wife to become disgruntled and upset with her spouse and want to pray for “him to change” when really we need to be praying for our own change first. It also explores how we should especially pray for blessings for our husbands, even when the last thing we want to do is ask for good things for them. Practicing getting my own pride and ego out of the way when I am frustrated and normally want to sulk or sit around indignant that anything could actually be my fault and actually praying for us and blessings for him instead has been one of the best ways for me to learn humility (something I have been praying to learn better recently). I’m only a little ways through the book, but I am enjoying it and it is helping me to grow in my marriage, so it comes as a high recommendation for wives looking to help their husbands (and themselves) through prayer.
Those are my Fall reads this year. I know it’s a small start, but at least I am reading more now and watching TV less! If you feel like letting me know what you’re reading, feel free in the comments section.