Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love to talk about a really good read?

Do you talk about books online?
What's your favorite venue?
Where do you get really good book recommendations online?
Stand up and be counted!


RAnn said...

I review books regularly. Two of the sources I have are Catholic bookstores: The Catholic Company and Tiber River. http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com

Reviewer11 said...

I love the book of Saint Teresa of Avila and The Ramona Series. This last one is not religious but it is clean for children and adults to read.

I was wondering, is there a book about Teresa of Avila, her biography or autobiography? Is there one where it is complete? (Not edited).

Sr Anne said...

This one's pretty good: Teresa of Avila: God Alone Suffices by Jean-Jaquest Antier https://store.pauline.org/English/tabid/56/List/0/ProductID/2723/Default.aspx
One scholar told me it is the most accessible and complete book on Teresa around.

Carol said...

After trying so hard to read an unedited version, I gave it away, as it had pretzeled my brain! That may just be me, though.

I've read a few more books about her since then, one written by a feminist who showed us all of what St. Teresa fought and accomplished in the building of many convents, etc. It was from that book that I learned of her sufferings and of her saintly friends.

I am currently enjoying the biography by Mirabai Starr. I know-- it sounds like that wouldn't bode well, either, but it bodes so well, I'd swear M. Starr is Catholic! I am truly loving this book! However, the one Sr. Anne mentions above sounds very good.

As for book recommendation sources, I usually like what is offered by Ignatius Press (or am I thinking of IgnatiusInsight?).

Janet Baker said...

I don't know any one source of reliably good reads, just what one can pick up, if one is lucky, and here's one recommendation: the series by Sigrid Undset called the Master of Hestviken.

The first in the series is called The Axe, and your public library should have it, as she was a Nobel winner for literature for Kristen Lavransdatter. Once you read The Axe, you will surely read the other three slim volumes. Written in the 1920's, the setting is thirteenth century Norway. It follows the life of one Olav, a Catholic, a warrior, a husband and father, and a sinner. Without preaching, the book manages to put sin in the perspective of its consequences over time (as only novels can), and Undset is such a profound student of human nature, and such a generous heart, that the characters she creates are unforgettable. Let me give one snippet from The Axe and hope I don't spoil it for you. Olav heedlessly falls into sin with his fiance when they are barely teenagers (it is delicately rendered), which causes conflict with her family and the possibility of dissolving their afiance, and over heated words questioning her character, he slays one of her kinsman, setting in motion a lengthly separation during which she, terribly lonely and not knowing where he is or if he will ever return, is seduced by a wandering foreigner and becomes pregnant. Olav, just returned and now free to marry, discovers her condition, and leaves her in great anger. But in the town he is approached by her seducer, who does not know him and asks him to accompany him on a solitary journey overland, on skis, to make a necessary legal arrangement that would make it possible for him to marry the girl. During this journey Olav, and we the readers, begin to understand how the man achieved the seduction, with practiced, cunning charm, and to see that he set out to do it on purpose to make a place for himself, a foreigner, in an important local family, and Olav's anger melts, and he forgives her, and I was never so grateful for the large spirit of a large soul, that can forgive--and I will not tell you what incredibly dramatic act comes next, before he goes back to her, but what happens then determines the path for Olav and for her and for the child conceived and for the children they conceive together, and one begins to see how sin snarls and traps love and that God's wrath is nothing compared to the hell we build for ourselves. It is totally surprising and dramatic.

And besides all the rich characterization, Undset has the setting perfectly rendered, and what a setting! There is a fight scene in the third book, In the Wilderness, that has every strength of, say, Braveheart, or the Gladiator, but more, more! There is a warrior priest you'll never forget. Undset knows the name and use of every tool and weapon and household implement and diet and article of clothing, but never overdoes it. And what faith the people had! How they celebrated the sacraments and the flow of the liturgical calendar in their religious, not secular, state! How they prayed--I mean, how much a part of their lives real prayer was, the Eucharist was. How they suffered from their sins! Christ's suffering is so real to them, in their own suffering. Saints they were not, but Catholics to the core. (It does put in perspective how much we sacrifice in our secular states with our necessarily invisible beliefs; how it dilutes us!)

You must get the series. It will make an excellent winter for you.

Sr Anne said...

Oh, Janet, you did it! You led me down a pleasant path and sold another book to me! How could you????