by Angier Brock
I’m an old-fashioned calendar keeper: I still hand write appointments and other engagements on old-fashioned paper calendars. My favorites scatter full-page color illustrations among the fifty-two pages devoted to the weeks of the year, and for 2015, I chose one with twenty reproductions of paintings that span four centuries, all by different artists. What the paintings have in common is that each takes as its subject a woman who is reading.
As I try to study the women’s expressions (wistful? pensive? surprised?) and study their postures (standing, sitting forward, leaning back), I wonder about their reasons for reading. For the sheer delight of immersing themselves in language, or in a good story? For instruction or information? For inspiration? For consolation?
Certainly those are among the reasons I read. At the moment, I am just finishing a beautifully written memoir, and I’m about halfway through a fascinating (albeit densely packed) history of Christianity. Meanwhile, two promising novels and several recently acquired volumes of poetry wait on my bedside table.
What a gift a good book is. I am so very grateful for every single one I have stumbled upon—or been told about or given—and I am grateful as well for things related to reading that I often take for granted: my eyes and the eyeglasses that support them. And the time to read. And the freedom to make choices about my reading material.
But at the moment, something seems missing from the mix of books I have at hand. Every now and then I come across an especially amazing book that, more than most others, not only engages my mind and my love of language but also feeds my spirit. One that enlarges my sense of the Divine and calls me to live more faithfully—and creatively—in this divinely-created world. A book to read slowly and savor, perhaps as a Lenten discipline (Lent being now just a few weeks away). A book that causes me to be a little braver, to breathe a little more deeply, and to let love filter a little more steadily through me and out into the world.
Perhaps the truth is that most of the books I am reading now could do those things—if I would but let them. Still, I am always looking for the next amazing good book.
And I am open to suggestions.