"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Monday, March 26, 2012

My life in a bibliography

I read several blogs that have a regular "what I'm into post" and I'd kinda like to take my own twist on that idea.  A few years ago, I wrote a post called "My life in a bibliography" and, though I'm in a very different place now, I'd like to resurrect the idea.  So here we have it... my life in a bibliography.

I'm finished with graduate school now, but I've been reading novels to help pass the time.  Most of the parents I've spoken with agree: the days and nights feel eternally long, but the months and years seem to fly by.  In the past months my favorites have been:

George MacDonald. The Baronet's Song (abridged from Sir Gibbie),  The Tutor's First Love (abridged from David Elginbrod), and The Musician's Quest (abridged from Robert Falconer).  The wild, romantic Scottish countryside, brilliant characters and sometimes gothic mysteries are so lovely.  I especially love MacDonald's portrayal of women.  They are wise and often rather non-traditionally beautiful.  I think there's an academic research topic there, but that would require tackling the originals in their Scottish dialect.  Maybe someday.

Dorothy Sayers.  The Lord Peter Wimsey series.  My favorites have been Whose Body? (the very first), Have His Carcase and Murder Must Advertise.  I like these because Lord Peter (who can be quite the flashy, rich know-it-all) is most vulnerable in them.  I like seeing these different facets of his character.  I also like his relationship with Harriet Vane; I'm a sucker for romances.  Next up:  The Nine Tailors, then Gaudy Night (both of which I read and loved years ago--all about change-ringing and Oxford--so quintessentially English) and Busman's Honeymoon (which I haven't read, but can't wait for).

Charles Williams.  The Greater Trumps and All Hallows Eve are my favorites, though I've also read War in Heaven, just finished The Place of the Lion and just started Descent Into Hell.  I think the best adjective for Williams is "Dantean."  All the misery of hell and the bright laughter of heaven are here.  The really wonderful feat of his imagination is to establish exactly that: the physical world is filled with our spiritual reality, heaven and hell are constantly breaking into the daily lives of Williams' stolid English characters.  His characters are quirky and noble and spooky and real and they've really stayed with me.   Among other things, he (along with J.R.R. Tolkien's "Leaf, by Niggle") has totally convinced me that purgatory exists--or at least that the life after death is a continuous growth (or shrinking) into what we will be forever.  All of that being said, the books can be challenging to read because they often have long, slow, thoughtful passages amid the striking actions and images.  I think that's what I like most about the two I mentioned above:  they are more plot-driven.  Moral of the story:  If you appreciate the other Inklings but have never attempted Williams do it now!!!

Graham Greene.  The End of the Affair, The Quiet American, and The Burnt Out Case.  Greene also has an incredible spiritual vision, though it is not always quite so obviously symbolic as Williams'.  His prose is so simple, pared down to the exact right words.  But even though the books are relatively short, I just can't read them quickly.  They're very heavy.  Full of grief for the modern condition.

Ha!  Now that it sounds like I'm a prolific and high-brow reader...  well, I'm feeling rather tired and out of my league with this motherhood gig lately, so I'll happily delight in this fictional corner of my life.


  1. Highbrow indeed. Nothing like novels and motherhood to explore the depths and wonder of the human condition. Love the post.

    1. I've been enjoying your reviews lately, as well! It's fun to get to *choose* what we read now, isn't it? I really missed fiction reading while I was at Regent.