Tag Archives: Books

in the heart’s own wax

One book, printed in the heart’s own wax
Is worth a thousand in the stacks.

~ Jan Luyken (Dutch poet)


O heart, too much like stone, you,
and chisel dulled;
or, better, a hard drive,
with too many hurried bytes.

A tablet of wax
beckoning the fresh
of lettered treasures old and new…

Too many in the stacks;
Move, O bookish stylus, to the wax!

stylus on wax

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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Poetry, Quotes, Uncategorized


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reading is powerful

Behold, the power of reading.
A wee snippet from a great blog post by Orange Marmalade.

Reading is powerful.

Reading aloud together forges enduring, companionable bonds as we journey together to new places and into new relationships, Jesse Wilcox Smith reading girlsexperience the emotions of a story together, make sense of stories together, create memories and build associations through story. We build a Secret Club, as it were, with passwords of just the odd word or phrase from countless stories that trigger curiously sweet camaraderie.  As we read, we join a larger community with all those who love sorting hats or Frogs and Toads or a red-haired girl who hates being called Carrots. Connection happens through reading, and connection makes the world a better place…

Reading heals.


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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Books, Quotes, Reading


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smell bound

Taken by my friend Abby in Portlandia @ Powells.

Yes. Just yes.

And I love the fact that the person in the lower right hand corner has their hand raised in the adoration position.
Or is that the questioning hand, “What the…???”



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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Books


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life is too short not to read



Amen, Joy.
But define bad

More simply, life is too short not to read.

But then again, I’m convinced that there will be books in heaven.
The new heavens and the new earth will have a library
a planetary library as per Silence in the Library
(just no Vashta Nerada lurking in the shadows).

I’m counting on it.

“And the books were opened.”

So we don’t have to be feverish about this
even though we frequently will be.

And since Jesus also speaks of drinking wine with us there too
winebibers can also take heart.

Guess I need to develop some vintage taste buds.

So we can relax and learn to savor both.

Life is too short not to.

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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Books, haverings


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what is it with books?


best. gif. EVER.

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 12.49.18 PM

When it’s a film based on a book, I watch the film first, then read the book. It tends to keep my disappointment/ frustration level down in the comparison between the two – and when I do read the book it’s like the ultimate director’s edition extended cut filled with deleted scenes and the occasional alternative ending or two.

But this scene in The Book Thief.

When Leisel enters the Mayor’s library and encounters those shelves of books, the film makes me flash a knowing smile, but Zusak’s word portrait in the book touches chords deeper in me than I can even understand. Which makes the gif at the top of this post the sexiest best gif ever. It makes me want to invade used bookstores and libraries, anything with vintage books – there’s just something about those vintage books! – and run the back of my hand along the spines.

Oh yes.

What is it with books?

won't work in most bookstores. most.

won’t work in most bookstores. most.




Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Books, haverings, Movies


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frugal chariots

Stumbled upon this article by Janie B. Cheaney (what a name! love it!). Empty Frigates.

What wondrously wise wisdom not only for children and their summer reads…
…but for children of all ages and stages and seasons and their Scripture reading…bold emphasis is mine…read it

“Literature” as subject is the study of literary craft. Craft is involved in every form of art, and learning about perspective and composition (for example) can help us understand a painting. But it can also distract us from the experience of just standing and looking. “The first demand any work of any art makes upon us is surrender,” Lewis wrote. “Look. Listen. Receive.” It makes sense to teach literature from a critical perspective in college, after students have read and liked dozens of books. But the younger the child, the less she’ll gain from character arcs and compare-and-contrast. In fact, too much of this could harm a child’s appreciation for literature in general, like poking at a live lab specimen until it’s dead.

empty frigatesThe new Common Core standards appear to make a bad method much worse. Instead of reading lots of novels and stories, students are exposed to “texts,” which they are then taught to dissect. Fiction and poetry go in the same hopper with informative essays and tracts. The fourth- or fifth-grader can’t just read; critical exercises bar his way to the story and its potential “to take us lands away.” If books are frigates, children should be allowed to step aboard and experience the journey, not make detailed diagrams of the rigging. Curriculum writers don’t seem to understand the main problem with standard educational theory, at least since John Dewey: The child is not a soul, but a brain. Brains don’t need experience; they only need facts.

If your child’s summer reading list came with worksheets, ditch them if you can. Just let the kids read, and continue to read to them—lots of books, and all kinds of books. They don’t have to finish every one they start; literary tastes are as individual as fingerprints and take time to develop. The cost is low, the value high. Take it from Emily Dickinson: “How frugal is the chariot / That bears the human soul.”

This is why when I teach I tell the audience to close their books and their eyes and just listen.

We need to allow ourselves to be carried away by texts.
But instead we poke at them until they’re dead.
Superb rigging diagrammers
rather than wayfarers.

Oh bring on that frugal chariot…

Thank you, Janie B. Cheaney


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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Books, Quotations


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i smell heaven

I left a stack of books for you.

book paradise

book paradise

Blue bag.
Behind the counter.

I almost forgot but then saw the bag.

People have been leaving a lot of books lately, generic stuff, popular titles, newer, some brand new. Some find their way to the used book shelf, some to the borrow shelf, some are brand new and uncracked, so I put them right into stock. Some I set aside to give away – especially the Bibles.

So I lift up the bag, expecting to take a few moments to sort a bit.

And the smell hits me.

Old books.

booktreasure 3This bag is filled with old books.

Descriptive Geometry by Faunce with writing dating back to 1921.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens dating to 1925

“A tale which holdeth children from play & old men from the chimney corner.”

Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks by Ralph O’Connor inscribed Feb. 6, 1904 (what has happened to our penmanship, people!
The inscription is a work of art!)…

“To My Rose, Compliments of J.C. Kinison – May thy pathway be bright.”

Song of the Ages, inscribed 1916 “Mrs. E.A. Howell, Hardin, Montana”
Oliver Twist by Dickens, inscribed Dec. 19, 1826 “Ella Mae Barrett”cooleth
New Caesar with Vocabulary by Allen and Greenough, dated 1896. Latin treasure!
New School Algebra by Wentworth, dated Sept. 14, 1918 “Catholic High School Class Book”
A hymnbook – The Finest of the Wheat for Missionary and Revival Meetings & Sabbath Schools inscribed Jan. 1, 1895
The Return of Tarzan by Burroughs, “To Francis, With Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas, Gladys, 1923

Each is sniffed. Each is savored.

work of art

work of art

Fragile, fragrant treasures.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who finds treasure hidden in a field…

Or in this case

in a blue bag.


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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Books


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a good and rare priest

My friend Ed Lee sent me this image of the full work of Les Misérables as opposed to the condensed novel.
He les mis bookssays that he would hold up both copies when teaching and ask the students which version they wished to read.

They always chose the condensed version, of course.

It strikes me that most of us want the condensed version. I want the condensed version of your story, your wants, your needs, your fears. Nutshell, please, not the meat. Synopsis, sound byte, bottom line.

The soul, in Cliff Notes.

What a contrast again to the heart captured in the character of Bienvenu. The soul I wish shaped deep within this impatient frame.

One more post of Bishop Welcome’s heart for those who can endure it, culminating in the “whole of his doctrine” inspired by his “terrible vision of the infinite mountain.” More of this, Lord, in me. More of you in me.

That which enlightened this man was his heart. His wisdom was made of the light which comes from there. No systems; many works. Abstruse speculations contain vertigo; no, there is nothing to indicate that he risked his mind in apocalypses. The apostle may be daring, but the bishop must be timid. He would probably have felt a scruple at sounding too far in advance certain problems which are, in a manner, reserved for terrible great minds. There is a sacred horror beneath the porches of the enigma; those gloomy openings stand yawning there, but something tells you, you, a passer-by in life, that you must not enter. Woe to him who penetrates thither!

Geniuses in the impenetrable depths of abstraction and pure speculation, situated, so to speak, above all dogmas, propose their ideas to God. Their prayer audaciously offers discussion. Their adoration interrogates. This is direct religion, which is full of anxiety and responsibility for him who attempts its steep cliffs.

Human meditation has no limits. At his own risk and peril, it analyzes and digs deep into its own bedazzlement. One might almost say, that by a sort of splendid reaction, it with it dazzles nature; the mysterious world which surrounds us renders back what it has received; it is probable that the contemplators are contemplated. However that may be, there are on earth men who—are they men?—perceive distinctly at the verge of the horizons of revery the heights of the absolute, and who have the terrible vision of the infinite mountain. Monseigneur Welcome was one of these men. Monseigneur Welcome was not a genius. He would have feared those sublimities whence some very great men even, like Swedenborg and Pascal, have slipped into insanity. Certainly, these powerful reveries have their moral utility, and by these arduous paths one approaches to ideal perfection. As for him, he took the path which shortens,—the Gospel’s.

He did not attempt to impart to his chasuble the folds of Elijah’s mantle; he projected no ray of future upon the dark groundswell of events; he did not see to condense in flame the light of things; he had nothing of the prophet and nothing of the magician about him. This humble soul loved, and that was all.

He inclined towards all that groans and all that expiates. The universe appeared to him like an immense malady; everywhere he felt fever, everywhere he heard the sound of suffering, and, without seeking to solve the enigma, he strove to dress the wound. The terrible spectacle of created things developed tenderness in him; he was occupied only in finding for himself, and in inspiring others with the best way to compassionate and relieve. That which exists was for this good and rare priest a permanent subject of sadness which sought consolation.

There are men who toil at extracting gold; he toiled at the extraction of pity. Universal misery was his mine. The sadness which reigned everywhere was but an excuse for unfailing kindness. Love each other; he declared this to be complete, desired nothing further, and that was the whole of his doctrine.

Monseigneur Bienvenu was simply a man who took note of the exterior of mysterious questions without scrutinizing them, and without troubling his own mind with them, and who cherished in his own soul a grave respect for darkness.



Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Books, Pastoring, Suffering


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mirrored soul

Les Misérables.

I have never read Victor Hugo’s book. Typically I like reading the book after watching the film. It’s like getting the extended edition of the movie with all these extra scenes.

With Hugo, I can clearly see that is a gross understatement.les mis book

We have a paperback version of Les Mis, which I started to read, but then I opted for a free download of an iBook version. The iBook version was an extended edition in turn of the book on our shelf! The first 78 pages (out of 1680!) were all focused on the Bishop of Digne, Monsignor Bienvenu. Bishop Welcome.

I was mesmerized. Entranced. Dazzled.

Merton, Rohr, Manning, Heschel, all rolled up into one character on a page long before their existence. I found myself gazing into what I can only hope is a mirrored soul. I so want to go to there. With all my being this is who I would be, how I would be, what I would be. Christ in me. What more could he be in me than this Bishop of Digne?

Some of the richest reading I’ve done in some time. Gotta share the portrait of this mirrored soul. Perhaps it will strike a similar chord in you. And if not, meh, there are other things to read I suppose…

Oh, and one more note. Pointing out the obvious. My garden would be a garden of books.

As we have seen, prayer, the celebration of the offices of religion, alms-giving, the consolation of the afflicted, the cultivation of a bit of land, fraternity, frugality, hospitality, renunciation, confidence, study, work, filled every day of his life. Filled is exactly the word; certainly the Bishop’s day was quite full to the brim, of good words and good deeds. Nevertheless, it was not complete if cold or rainy weather prevented his passing an hour or two in his garden before going to bed, and after the two women had retired. It seemed to be a sort of rite with him, to prepare himself for slumber by meditation in the presence of the grand spectacles of the nocturnal heavens.

Sometimes, if the two old women were not asleep, they heard him pacing slowly along the walks at a very advanced hour of the night. He was there alone, communing with himself, peaceful, adoring, comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the ether, moved amid the darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations and the invisible splendor of God, opening his heart to the thoughts which fall from the Unknown. At such moments, while he offered his heart at the hour when nocturnal flowers offer their perfume, illuminated like a lamp amid the starry night, as he poured himself out in ecstasy in the midst of the universal radiance of creation, he could not have told himself, probably, what was passing in his spirit; he felt something take its flight from him, and something descend into him. Mysterious exchange of the abysses of the soul with the abysses of the universe!

He thought of the grandeur and presence of God; of the future eternity, that strange mystery; of the eternity past, a mystery still more strange; of all the infinities, which pierced their way into all his senses, beneath his eyes; and, without seeking to comprehend the incomprehensible, he gazed upon it. He did not study God; he was dazzled by him. He considered those magnificent conjunctions of atoms, which communicate aspects to matter, reveal forces by verifying them, create individualities in unity, proportions in extent, the innumerable in the infinite, and, through light, produce beauty. These conjunctions are formed and dissolved incessantly; hence life and death.

He seated himself on a wooden bench, with his back against a decrepit vine; he gazed at the stars, past the puny and stunted silhouettes of his fruit-trees. This quarter of an acre, so poorly planted, so encumbered with mean buildings and sheds, was dear to him, and satisfied his wants.

What more was needed by this old man, who divided the leisure of his life, where there was so little leisure, between gardening in the daytime and contemplation at night? Was not this narrow enclosure, with the heavens for a ceiling, sufficient to enable him to adore God in his most divine works, in turn? Does not this comprehend all, in fact? and what is there left to desire beyond it? A little garden in which to walk, and immensity in which to dream. At one’s feet that which can be cultivated and plucked; over head that which one can study and meditate upon: some flowers on earth, and all the stars in the sky.



Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Books, musings


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