I love to read. And I really enjoy talking about the books I’m reading. You, too? I have long had a habit of reading at least three books at a time — one spiritual, one educational and a novel or memoir. Usually I reach for certain genres at a specific time of the day, but if I’m reading something I really love or that draws me in, the others may be set aside for a minute. I’m also not afraid to give up on a book if it isn’t holding my interest. So many books, so little time!
Here’s what’s on my stack at the moment:
Punching Holes in the Dark by Robert Benson
I’ll read anything Robert Benson writes. I first discovered him through a craft book on writing titled Dancing on the Head of a Pen. Benson’s gentle yet intentional approach to all things spiritual draws me in and keeps me turning the pages. Reading one of his books feels like an extended conversation in a coffee shop with a friend. Punching Holes offers exactly what the subtitle says: encouragement to begin “living in the light of the world.” This book is gentle and deep and heartwarming and profound . A wonderful way to begin the day.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry has been one of my favorite fiction authors for several years. I’ve read more than once this sweet telling of a life lived in the aftermath of World War II and the enduring love of two good men lost to the battle. Hannah, the narrator, is in her 70s as she records her view of how life goes on in Port William, Kentucky. It’s a companion book to Berry’s Nathan Coulter (which I’ll probably also read again soon). Berry’s Port William tales are so anchored in place that I feel transported each time I read them. I live in a farming valley much like the one Berry describes. As a small town girl transplanted to the country, I’ve leaned into Berry’s stories to grow my appreciation of this unexpected life I’ve enjoyed for 30 years.
Steering The Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin
This slim volume, updated from its original version, was recommended by an author teaching at last year’s Scriptoria Writers Workshop. I’ve just begun using the writing prompts at the end of each chapter. The novel I’m writing is in the style of narrative fiction and, as a former non-fiction writer, I’ll take all the help I can find! Since I’m just starting to read this newest edition, I’ll share the Amazon review that convinced me I need this book. So far, it’s spot-on: “Masterly and concise, Steering the Craft deserves a place on every writer’s shelf.” The author has published more than 60 books of fiction, fantasy, children’s literature, poetry, drama, criticism, and translation and is the winner of many awards. Enough said.
This is our bonus book and one I pop in and out of whenever I need something beautiful to ponder. Translated from the original German, this version is the 100th anniversary edition of Rilke’s spiritual poems. The description offered on Amazon calls Rilke’s God-inspired poetry “the invigorating vision of spiritual practice for the secular world, and a work that seems remarkably prescient today, one hundred years after it was written.” I couldn’t agree more.