I hope your summer reading life is off to a great start! And I hope it includes some picks from the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge? I am continuing to share what I am reading for the challenge with you. Do you love the witty writing and memorable phrases of Chesterton? Do you love mystery stories? Read on!
Category: “A book by a non-American Catholic author”
My Pick: Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G. K. Chesterton
Who doesn’t love G. K. Chesterton?? He is certainly one of the most quotable modern Catholic writers, and his most well-know book is probably his classic apologetic work Orthodoxy. But I would say that fewer people are as familiar with his non-fiction, particularly his Father Brown short stories. I was in this boat until recently, and I’m so happy to now be acquainted with them. Chesterton wrote many, many Fr. Brown stories with various repeating characters. To my knowledge, though many volumes claim to be the “complete Fr. Brown stories,” there is actually not a book in print currently that contains every last published one. (Feel free to fact-check me, readers!)
I chose the particular collection linked to above because of it’s claim to have the most “essential” ones, and I did find that the order of the stories helped provided back stories on the reoccurring characters. I’m sure there are other great collections out there; so please do share in the comments if you have found one that you love and would recommend. The Fr. Brown series debuted in 1911 with The Innocence of Father Brown (In the public domain and free on Kindle). I think the order in which you read the stories is important, because Fr. Brown — the British sleuthing priest — has a significant history with some of the reoccurring characters.
These stories are a great length to read leisurely, one at a sitting. You will find yourself entertained by the mysterious plot, humored by Chesterton’s wit infused in the character of Fr. Brown, and uplifted by various aphorisms that are woven nicely here and there. These are stories that simply bring delight to a reader by offering so many literary treasures at once. Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for… “A book by a non-American Catholic author””
Don’t worry if you got a little behind in your picks for the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge? I did for a little bit, and I’m getting caught up on sharing my picks with you. This one was a favorite!
Category: “A classic novel”
My Pick: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I’m sad to say that I didn’t start reading the great Russian authors until a couple of years ago…but that’s okay; I can spend the rest of my adult years marinating in them. I’m not able to say anything profound about Dostoevsky; but there are plenty of literary critics and brilliant minds who have us covered there. (In fact, I was down that rabbit hole of commentary research right after finishing this book. Now my TBR is filled up with Romano Guardini & Henri de Lubac — both of whom I came upon references to recently in Flannery O’Conner’s letters, as providence would have it.) However, I will share some novice delights and observations.
Russian names! Am I right?
One disadvantage to listening to the audiobook is that I think it makes it a little bit harder to follow who is who. For those who haven’t read Dostoevsky, we aren’t dealing with names like “Michael” and “Samantha.” They’re a bit longer. But that isn’t the confusing part. They have nick-names. But they aren’t “Mike” and “Sam.” They are NOTHING like the full name. So you are going to want to have a cheat sheet handy, which many volumes provide in the front of the edition. Again, I didn’t have that to flip to with the audio. So…I did a quick web search a few chapters in to get back on track and make sure I was following the character development correctly. Be careful if you do that! Though the character synopsis straightened up the names and nick-names for me, it also included BIG spoilers. 🙁 Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for…”A classic novel””
Are you participating in the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge? If not, it’s never too late to start — join us! I share my picks for each category about once a month. So far, the categories have been diversifying my reading life, particularly this next pick…
Category: “A work of poetry by a Catholic author”
My Pick: The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
I stumbled across a very helpful post at The Catholic Gentleman while determining what poet I should read for this category. It was a hard choice, but I ended up going with Gerard Manley Hopkins. No regrets here. (And now I have a solid list of remaining poets to work my way through next. First runner-up: Edith Sitwell.) Disclaimer: I’m not sure if the edition I linked to on Amazon is the exact one that I read, since my copy was a wonderful old and falling apart hardback from the library. However, I’m sure that most collections would have all of the same poems.
What I loved…
Hopkins’ faith and Catholic identity come through strongly in his poetry. There is a good bit that is symbolic, and then there are a good many poems that are commemorative. (Admittedly, I lacked the context for fully understanding some of them.) For example, he wrote a beautiful poem in commemoration of a group of nuns who drowned in a shipwreck. When reading selections such as these, I thought of him as a eulogist. There was also some moving symbolism used with the Blessed Mother, a fairly common subject in his poetry as well. Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for…”A work of poetry by a Catholic author””