In which a book impresses me

I love books. Maybe you’ve figured it out by now, but if you haven’t, there it is: I love books. I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the piles of them (er, sorry Patient Husband…I’ll move those books from your side of the bed soon…) and most of all reading them. In my lifetime, I’ve consumed a zillion books.

Maybe Capt_Cardor will post in about his books, actually. Since he was ten, he’s kept a running index file of which books he’s read. I think he’s on book one million now.

I’ve begun receiving free books for review from Thomas Nelson and from The Catholic Company. The most recent one is from the Catholic Company, a book from Sophia Institute Press called “How To Pray Well.” I picked it based on description.

Prior to that, I’d been looking on the Thomas Nelson website for a book to request for review, and the only thing that looked moderately intriguing was a book about how you can pray and God will free you from habitual sins. I didn’t request it because I’d thought, “This is really just a long magazine article.” (As should have been “Love and Respect” by Eggerichs, which we beat to death here a couple of weeks ago.) Every one off their offerings was the same way: a long magazine article; an old truth boiled down to a hook, wrapped in a jacket with a pretty picture.

When “How To Pray Well” arrived, I was startled to find a faux leather cover with no illustration. Just the title and author. I flipped through it, noted the table of contents where he divides prayer into four kinds (adoration, gratitude, penitence, petition) and then went to the front, where it begins, “Adoration is the most excellent kind of prayer. Adoration consists of — ”

I stopped and turned back, looking for the introduction I’d obviously missed. No, none. I checked the publication date: 1929. Back before you had to have splash and a statement of purpose, pizzazz, a speaking platform, and a hook. This author thought, “People ought to have a book on how to pray well” and wrote it. If you picked it up, you were drawn only by the title. “Hey, I could stand to pray better!”

But think about that: no introduction. No, “I got the idea for this book when — ” and no “Fifty people at a prayer seminar said to me, ‘Emerson, you need to publish this stuff!'” and “In this book you will learn about four methods of prayer and The Very Best Way To Approach God.” There’s no thanking his cousin or a quick encapsulation of his hook. He doesn’t give you his credentials or lead with an anecdote.

There is simply a hundred and twenty page discourse on how to pray well.

It’s a book being naked. It’s completely standing on its own merits, something most publishers wouldn’t dare nowadays. I’m impressed. I have to say, after a steady diet of glitz-Christianity and personality and overblown magazine articles and “Gospel in a minute” books, I’m very impressed.


  1. capt_cardor

    I was an outside boy, raised on the streets of Brooklyn, albeit a kinder, gentler Brooklyn than today. I didn’t actually come to serious reading of books until I was in the seventh grade, when I had to commute to school by the NY transit system. I love to read even though I read painfully slow. I have tried a number of speed reading programs, from Evelyn Wood on, but to no avail. Getting through Grad School was traumatic since I read soooo slowwww.

    As a teenager I read adventure books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard and Sir Walter Scott. I now read History, Science, Science Fiction, Mysteries and international fiction. I read magazines (no list) and newspapers every day.I guess my reading was to distance myself from a neighborhood that was deteriorating rapidly and a troubled home life.
    I am always trying to get organized, although my house doesn’t look like it, and I decided early on to keep a list of the books that I had read. It is now over two thousand books long. Although it is just a list, it has become something more. To glance at the different parts of the list is to go back in time. I read this book in New Jersey visiting my sister. This book helped me through the night when my beautiful daughter was born. Here is one that kept me going during a twenty seven hour flight from New Delhi, India. So in some ways the list has become a trail that follows the ups and downs of a life and career that has at the least been very interesting. The books are markers of what I have done and keep me from forgetting both my mistakes and my victories.

    Thanks for asking me to comment. No sarcasm, just reverie.

    1. philangelus

      I think most people who read are conscious of a certain escapism to it. Betsy Lerner, in The Forest For The Trees, says that all bookish people at some point experience what she calls “a literary orga$m” where they realize reading is fulfilling and something they want to do forever.

      Interesting about the books connecting you with certain times.I read “Under The Tuscan Sun” while in labor with Emily, and afterward. There was a book I started reading before I had Kiddo#1 that I never could read again afterward because of the associations.

  2. philangelus

    You know what? I liked his reply so much that I’m going to ask everyone to hold off commenting on his reply until tomorrow, when I’ll lift it for the main post. (Is that okay, Cap’n?)

  3. capt_cardor


  4. Pingback: blah blah blah blah blah blah « Seven angels, four kids, one family

  5. Pingback: Imperfection « Seven angels, four kids, one family