My Reading Challenge Pick for “A Short Story by Flannery O’Conner”

How are you doing on your picks for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge? As promised, I’m sharing what I’m reading for each category throughout the year. 

Category: A Short Story by Flannery O’Conner

My Pick: A Good Man is Hard to Find

I’m a Flannery fan girl. I had read the collection of short stories titled Everything that Rises Must Converge, but I had never read A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. So that was an obvious pick for me.

If you have never read O’Conner, she is jarring — but on purpose. All of her stories have some element of violence in them, which brings about some redemptive purpose or conversion in the character(s). Violence is her path to redemption, because it gets a person’s attention.

In this story, as in many of her others, characters seem to be going about life stuck in a sort of “malaise” (to use Walker Percy’s term). The intentional violent elements serve to wake them up — and wake us (the readers) up too.

O’Conner is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I get that. But I think some people sometimes miss the intentionality of her use of violence in story, therefore, missing the underlying message completely. Her stories don’t fit into a paradigm of “nice Christianity” — a polite, don’t-rock-the-boat, comfortable life with faith as an accessory. No, Flannery’s stories are not nice; but they actually are not tragic and terrible either.

A frequently repeating message throughout her fiction is that there are things much worse than a violent end, and many people live with those things in their mundane daily lives. Her stories turn the paradigm of “nice Christianity” on it’s head. For a violent end that brings with it conversion is actually not a tragedy, but is salvation. For O’Conner, the tragedy is the life lived in the haze of self-sufficient modernity, ignorant of the alternative. When I read Flannery’s short stories, I see her trying to save her characters from themselves, to save us from ourselves, and to save society from itself. Try reading her with that persepective in mind, and see what you take away.


What O’Conner short story did you read for the #2017catholicreadingchallenge? If you are posting your pick on social media, remember to use the hashtag!

My Reading Challenge Pick for “Novel by a Catholic Author”

I hope you have gotten started on your picks for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge! As promised, I’m sharing what I am reading for each category throughout the year. 

novel-by-a-catholic-author

Category: Novel by a Catholic Author

My Pick: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

I’ve been looking forward for a few months to cracking this classic open. It’s currently my nighttime read, waiting patiently for me all day on my nightstand. I’m actually not that far in yet (~75 pages), but I’m definitely in it. I actually feel quite comfortable recommending it, even though I’ve barely gotten started.  Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for “Novel by a Catholic Author””

The 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge

It’s the start of a new year, and that means it’s time to make some new reading goals for 2017! True confessions: I get a little bit excited scrolling through Feedly posts with titles like “Reading Challenge for 2017” or “The Best Books I Read Last Year.” So I am making my own reading list (with coffee cup in hand — double the happy), and I have a challenge of my own to share with you guys: The 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge.

What do you say? You want to read more in 2017? You want read to broaden your Catholic perspective? You want to read some authors that you might not pick for yourself? If so, then here’s the deal. The challenge is to read 12 books in 2017. I’m giving you the authors (with a few exceptions), and you get to pick the specific books. I have also included a mix of literary works and theology/spirituality. If an author is totally new to you, no worries, I have suggestions on where to start. Oh, and by the way, you certainly don’t need to be Catholic to enjoy this reading challenge. Here’s the list:

2017-reading-challenge Continue reading “The 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge”