End of the semester, end of the fiscal year—it’s no wonder we’re burying ourselves in books for some stress relief. Here are the titles that we’ll be picking up this May to unwind, reflect, and educate.
I’ve been slowly reading Anne of Green Gables. I was in the mood for something simple and it’s one of the classics that I’ve never read.
I’m also reading Letters to Myself from the End of the World by Emily Stimpson Chapman. Chapman, currently in her forties, writes notes to her twenty-five year old self, who had just returned to the Catholic Church after some years of searching. It’s written at the beginning of the pandemic and is theology based.
Finally, I just picked up Ain’t Burned All the Bright, written by Jason Reynolds with illustrations by Jason Griffin. It’s a blend of text and art focused on the Black experience in 2020. I’ve only thumbed through it, but it’s beautiful! Highly recommend.
The book club of St. Camillus Parish, in which I participate, has just finished reading and discussing the book Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was, written by the German scholar Gerhard Lohfink and translated by Linda M. Maloney. It’s a comprehensive look at various topics such as the reign of God, the parables, the signs and miracles, the relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament, the Resurrection appearances—and more! Prof. Lohfink’s wealth of thought-provoking scholarship has aroused my cerebral neurons, and his eloquence has touched my heart. The book club’s discussions were guided by the Pastor of St. Camillus, Father Larry Hayes OFM, and by Prof. William Loewe of our own Catholic University of America. A Lenten treat!
I literally just finished Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads. He’s a writer that I really like and thus always read his books when they come out. He tackles the “big” issues and this one is no different. It’s set in the early 1970s and per the publisher copy “is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.” It’s apparently the first book in a trilogy, though I’m unsure if the next books will have the same characters or setting.
I just finished an old text from one of my college fiction writing classes, The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner. As an editor and literary agent, Lerner brings a unique perspective to writing and publication that focuses less on craft and more on habit, expectation, and etiquette. Her gentle wit, practical advice, and references to famous authors’ own publishing journeys all make it my favorite book on writing out there, and a highly underrated one at that.
I recently finished Katy Carl’s first novel, As Earth Without Water; I picked it up as she is a former neighbor, but I was astonished by how evocatively nearly every sentence was written. One I plan to read again more slowly.
On audio, I’m working through Making It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, written by a couple of cognitive scientists together with a ‘storyteller,’ which I find myself wanting to send to every student, teacher, and professor of my acquaintance (and featuring a cameo from one of my own eighth grade teachers!).
My bedtime reading has been A Life Worth Living: The Story of a Palenstinian Catholic by Bernard Sabella, a sociologist at Bethlehem University. His educated but down-to-earth perspective has been a good counterbalance to the spiritual intensity of Holy Week and Easter. And the editor that helped bring the book to life was my CUA Press colleague, Carole Monica Burnett; I have to say I haven’t noticed a single typo yet!