I’m pleased to put on my Granite State Walker hat and join a small army (strictly peaceful!) of Granite Staters in a 24-hour fundraising event to benefit the Manchester City Library Foundation. Around the clock on April 7, we’ll take turns reading aloud, with a different theme each hour. Midnight on the 7th is for Nature, and I’ll be reading from The Cohos Trail guidebook. Author Kim Nilsen included some New Hampshire natural history in that wonderful guide, and I’ll share a few pages.
Night owls can catch my 12:20 a.m. segment at www.twitch.tv/mcl_foundation, barring tech glitches. Not a night owl? No problem. Tune in anytime on April 7. It’s going to be a virtual grab bag of assorted readers and books.
I stepped aside this year from professional public policy work at the state level. Dear to me as that vocation was (and is), it was time to take a break from the noise. During this time of transition I happened upon Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press). The Guinean prelate’s name was familiar to me from news coverage and some of his social media work, but I had not known of the book before coming across a review of it.
Cardinal Sarah argues for silence as something to be cultivated as an indispensable condition for encounters with the sacred. The book is in the form of a conversation between the Cardinal and journalist Nicolas Diat. Each paragraph can be the inspiration for a period of contemplation. I’m finding it timely and challenging in the best ways.
Another book found via a review (h/t Wall Street Journal for this one): The Border by Erika Fatland (Simon and Schuster). I’m only one chapter in, and I’m hooked. The subtitle sums it up: “A Journey Around Russia Through North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and the Northeast Passage.” There’s history, of course. There’s a travelogue of sorts, but that’s not how to classify this book. The author’s encounters with people are at the heart of her work. I’m eager to follow her on the rest of her journey.
I rescued Upon This Granite from a neglected shelf recently. It’s a history of the Diocese of Manchester (New Hampshire), my home diocese, published in 1998 (Peter E. Randall Publisher, Portsmouth NH). It was a labor of love by a diocesan priest, Rev. Msgr. Wilfred Paradis, and it’s as close to an “official” history as can be found. It’s no tell-all. I’m finding it a good guide to the history of various parishes, particularly the ones founded by and for Catholics of specific ethnic or language groups. I like thinking how those communities have changed over the years, adding to our little state’s cultural texture.
It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed to the Open Book linkup, hosted by blogger Carolyn Astfalk and the team at CatholicMom.com. Time to catch up and find out what other folks are reading.
I’m looking forward to reading more than just excerpts from Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti, released a few days ago. Headlines seldom do justice to encyclicals. At the same time, I’m re-reading St. John Paul II’s The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), which was released 25 years ago.
I just finished this one, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes good stories and elegant prose: West With the Night is a memoir by Beryl Markham (1902-1986), probably best known for her pioneering transatlantic flight in 1936. I picked up the book out of mild curiosity about how she described her own accomplishment. What I found was one of the most beautifully written works I’ve read. The epic flight rates a single chapter near the end, and those few pages are a small treasure in themselves.
I’m reading a book of G.K. Chesterton mysteries that I found in a bookshop, knowing nothing about them except the author’s name. The Man Who Knew Too Much contains eight short stories with an interesting common bond: to borrow from the book’s cover, “justice does not take its usual course.” These are eight quick little diversions.
Every time John LeCarré puts out a new book, I read it in the usually-vain hope that he can match the perfection of his Smiley trilogy, published about 40 years ago. That’s hardly fair. I’m in the midst of his latest, Agent Running in the Field. So far, so good-ish.
When this year started, I made a list of all my yet-unread literary finds from yard sales and used-book shops. It’s an imposing list. The idea, or rather the good intention I had on New Year’s Day, was to either read them and then pass them on to someone else by the end of the year. I’m actually about halfway through the list at this point, three-quarters of the way through the year. The giveaway box is filling up. That’s progress.