7 Quick Takes: What I'm Into

1.  I often read Modern Mrs. Darcy's blog because she offers solid book recommendations about at fast as I change diapers, which is to say...often!

Anyway, one post she writes up that I particularly like is the What I'm Into review.  I thought I'd adopt her format (which she adapts from Leigh Kramer) and share a few things I'm liking lately.


I've read three so far this month and they are:

All The Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doer:  Rated as one of the best novels of 2014 and I can see why.  I thought the

New York Times Reviewer

William T. Vollman was a little harsh (even if he was accurate) when he made critiques about one under developed main characters and an unbelievable villain.  Still, Vollman admitted to staying up half the night reading the book, which I found myself doing.  This story is set during World War II and tells the story of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, who participates in the French resistance against Germany, and Werner Pfenning, a young boy who gets recruited by the Nazi's for his brilliant knowledge of building radios.  It's beautifully written and tragic and leaves the reader with pangs of heart sickness.

The Invention of Wings

by Sue Monk Kidd:  a great historical novel about the real life Grimke sisters.  Their story is reason enough to read the book, especially if you've never heard of them (and I hadn't).

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor:  Wow.  As I told my husband and a friend, O'Connor is a literary genius and her training in the craft of writing is obvious.  It's also obvious she was brilliant.  Theimagery/symbolism she uses in her stores are powerful and deep and entire essays have been written just to dissect them.  I needed some of these essays as I read because I had trouble picking them out myself.

Of course, none of the characters she writes about are likable in this comic novel (with maybe the exception of Enoch Emery) and the landscape she depicts is terribly depressing. (I found this lecture by a Yale professor on both these topics particularly helpful and interesting.)

But...she does this on purpose.  Darkness with a purpose?  Yes, so we can see how much we need the light.

I think the works of Flannery O'Connor are mandatory reading for Catholics, even if you don't like her.  I don't, however, think you can read her fiction without reading her nonfiction as her nonfiction offers a type of lens with which to approach her other writings.  Her Catholic faith imbues everything and without an understanding of this, I think it's too easy to focus on her grotesque depictions, which she uses to illustrate the flawed human condition and our great need for a Savior. 

I feel like I need to read Wise Blood again just to uncover the depth. 

2.  I'm currently reading:

The Power And The Glory

by Graham Greene.  I picked this one up because

Notre Dame Magazine

rated this one of the ten most Catholic novels of all time.  I didn't know what to expect, but so far, I love it.  It's about a whisky priest during the Mexican Cristeros war who is very flawed, but who cannot disconnect his deeply held Catholic worldview from his selfish desires and actions.

3.  On my to-read list:

This months

Notre Dame Magazine

had a list of the top ten Catholic novels of all time and I aim to read many of them them this year.  I have only read two (

Brideshead Revisited


Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad), but I want to check out these a well:

Billiards At Half-Past Nine

by Heirich Boll

Bread and Wine

by Ignazio Silone

Diary of A Country Priest

by George Bernanos


by Shusaku Endo

The Woman of the Phairesses

Fracois Mauriac

Kristin Lavransdatter

by Sigrid Undset (but I think I need a reading group for this one!  It's epic.)

Also for consideration:

Death Comes To The Archbishop

by Willa Cather

Vipers' Tangle

by Francois Mauriac 

The Edge of Sadness

by Edwin O'Connor

The End Of The Affair

by Graham Greene

Morte d'Urban

by J.F. Powers

I'm not sure how I'll do; wish me luck.

As an aside, you should check out this essay by Lawrence Cunningham entitled

On Books, Bookstores, and a Grumpy List from the same magazine.

He says in the intro:

Let me state a profound conviction that is also an adamantine prejudice: Barnes & Noble is not a bookstore, nor are any of its pale imitators. By my standard, the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore is not really a bookstore — it is a T-shirt joint that happens to sell books. A real bookstore sells new and used books; it has a certain indescribable odor of mustiness plus dust and a faint whiff of old leather. The employees look like they were bred to live among books — they must be pale, unfashionably dressed, bespectacled and somewhat ethereal in demeanor. Most of all, they must know books.

The whole thing is delightful!

4.  TV:

Is it terrible to admit John and I both like American Idol?  Because we do.  I have a long and not sordid love affair with pop music (go ahead, you can be shocked) and this show nurtures that deep affinity.  How is there so much talent in the world?

Also, I loved these two documentaries and you can find them on Netflix:


: the true life story of a high school football coach and his inner city football team from Memphis, TN who want to win their first ever playoff game.  Moving and inspirational.  Reminded me of my Louisiana days where football is a religion and the coaches worship at the altar of talented players and championship games.

Short Game

: this documentary follows some of the best golfers in the world as they strive to win the world championship title.  These players?  They happen to only be 7 years old.  Entertaining and amazing.

And least I forget,


.  I took Patrick to see it (we had both read the book) and we loved it.  

4.  Music:

Sam Smith's voice?  So good.


See?  Told you.  Pop music.)

As an aside, Mary discovered several of my old

Indigo Girls

cds and she's obsessed.  You have no idea how this warms my wannabe guitar playing, angst filled creative heart.

5.  Podcasts:

My sister recommended


so while I was on the treadmill one day, I listened to the first episode.  Then, I spent the next several days of my life cleaning and exercising just so I would have an excuse to listen to the story.

The writing and the story-telling is so well done and so addicting.

I finished all twelve episodes and now I'm all, "WHAAAAAAT????" I have to wait for more!"

And (spoiler alert!!!):  I think Adnan is guilty, though I don't think he received a fair trial.  Sorry, Adnan supporters.

6.  Favorite photos of the week:

Y'all!  I asked the kids to walk into the field this week so I could get a photo of them in the snow covered tundra.  In the middle of the photo shoot, we had these unexpected visitors.  Six deer stole from the forest directly in front of us!  It was so amazing I still can't get over it.

Unrelated but because she's cute:

Oh my gosh!  I almost forgot.  My friend,


, wrote an


.  She's a smart one, that girl.  No, really, she is.  If you are interested in the connection between Jane Austen and virtue, this is the book for you!  Go check it out.  I'm proud of you, Rhonda!