I find it difficult to fall asleep at night without having read at least a page or two of something. My favorite day of the month is when my new copy of First Things arrives. This journal, however, can only satisfy for so long. As a result, I have also turned to these books:
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
A Mexican priest in the 1930's attempts to escape the persecution that has left most of his confreres in Southern Mexico martyrs. He is deeply sinful, constantly pursued by the atheistic lieutenant who wants him dead, and beleaguered by a toothless man. This novel, often called a theological thriller, reflects on the power of love, and from my perception, on the incredible reality of the sacraments. This priest, in the midst of his own doubts, his own sinfulness, and his own worries, remains a priest by whose hand God's grace is brought to His people.
Wild at Heart, John Eldridge
A penetrating discussion of what makes a man a man, and of how his relationship with his father, his mother, and his wife are all connected to this central question. Eldridge eventually draws men to recognize that manhood must be rooted in a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father. This is a fantastic book. I formulated my homily from its contents last weekend. Though an excellent text,the book, written by an evangelical Christian, does need to be informed by JPII's Theology of the Body.
Gone Tomorrow, Lee Child
I love a little pulp fiction now and then. The thirteenth book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, this book is a stretch of the imagination. Reacher, and ex-MP witnesses the suicide of a woman on a train which eventually leads to a crisis involving the FBI, CIA, and Osama bin Laden. Child's books are often bloody and extremely violent. This is no exception, but the quality of writing and the suspense of Child's prior novels are not to be found in this one. In this book, Child is just trying too hard.
The American Short Story (Anthology)
This is a fantastic collection of short stories written by Americans. It includes familiar names like O. Henry, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway as well as other not so familiar names (to me, anyway). I bought this book years ago, and have been slowly working my way through it since then. It has given me a chance to revisit Ambrose Bierce's "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and to be introduced for the first time to Frank Stockton's "The Lady of the Tiger" (both of which are must-read stories). I have traveled with the book by train, and have fallen asleep to it at night. If you love American Literature, and if you especially like the short story, this book is for you. As an added bonus, it is currently selling for $5 at Amazon new, and for $.01 used. It will cost you more to ship than to purchase this collection.
The Cure D'Ars, F. Trochu
I started reading this biography of St. John Vianney last summer at the commencement of the year of the priest. I have been slowly working my way through it ever since. I love this book, and the life of the saint inspires me. I have to admit, though, that I find the text a bit intimidating. It can become extremely tedious (I say this having read all of War and Peace) as it relates one act of piety or holiness after another. To skip the book, however, is to skip the life of a priest whose interactions with his people were moving, comical, and deeply holy. His encounters with the devil are of particular interest. This book reminds me that I have a long way to go between here and sanctity. I have yet to finish the book, but one shouldn't rush through the biography of a saint; if you are looking for a good one, this is it.
What are you reading?