Mom’s Day Out at the Great Valley Bookfest – it was awesome!

Two weekends ago I had the awesome opportunity (thank you, my dear husband!) to go to a local book festival for a few hours BY MYSELF and it was amazing. I truly could have stayed there ALL DAY LONG. I met and chatted with some interesting local authors, bought some indie books (I’ve already finished two of them!), and picked up some used books from the Friends of the Library sale (I was there for the closing of the Bookfest and all the used books were free!). I also have some ideas for next year’s Bookfest: 1) bring business cards (duh!) – I missed out on some great opportunities to leave my info with authors; 2) sign up to offer a workshop on editing; 3) block off the whole day and go earlier so I can sit in on some of the speakers. So much potential!

I took some pictures, but then my phone broke and I got a new one soooo they’re not accessible at the moment. Instead, I will share some links! First, the Bookfest itself:

GVBF logo The mission of the Great Valley Bookfest is to create a family-friendly festival that celebrates literacy and promotes the written word in the heart of California’s Central Valley. It benefits the following local literacy organizations: Friends of the LibraryGreat Valley Writing CampsGive Every Child A Chance; and San Joaquin County Office of Education (SCHOOLS)

Next, some of the books I picked up and authors I met:

Britt Nunes – Etched  – I met Britt Nunes, her twin sister, and her adorable baby nephew at the Bookfest and bought her first book, Etched. While it wasn’t flawlessly executed–it read like a first book–it was interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed it very much. When I finished it, I bought myself the e-book versions of the sequel and the prequel, and I look forward to reading more from Britt Nunes in the future! Find her here: brittnunes.com

Britt Nunes  33844215. sy475

Susan Lowe – Josie – I met Susan Lowe and her husband, and just had to buy the book — which I read in one day! It is the story of Josie, Susan’s mother, and her experiences as an ethnic German in post-WWII Yugoslavia. It’s spectacularly well done and I’m thankful to have met Susan and had the opportunity to read her book. Find more info here.

Susan A.  Lowe Josie: A Story of Faith and Survival

Major Mitchell – The Dona (historical fiction)

The Doña

Kathy Goosev Howell – The Perfectly Purple Sneakers (picture book)

The Perfectly Purple Sneakers

Brian Weisfeld – The Startup Squad – Find Brian here: www.thestartupsquad.com

The Startup Squad

 

I met a lot of other authors whose books I did not buy that day, but I’ll certainly be looking out for – and maybe I’ll see them again at next year’s Bookfest! 🙂

Why “The Hobbit” is not just for kids – Reblog from Aleteia.org

I came across this commentary this morning and I think it’s just wonderful. While I haven’t read The Hobbit since high school, it is one of the books (along with Lord of the Rings) that I hope to introduce to my kids when they’re old enough. The author of this commentary, Tod Worner, captures, I think, the essence of why I read and what I hope my children gain from reading. I particularly love the GK Chesterton quote he includes! Please find the original piece here.

Why ‘The Hobbit’ is not just for kids

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How reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s story to his 10-year-old daughter unexpectedly stirred this father’s soul.

I have a confession to make.

I am just finishing The Hobbit for the first time. And I am almost 45.

Okay, okay. So it’s not scandalous. But to those who consider themselves well-read Catholics, not having read The Hobbit and its three-volume sequel, The Lord of the Rings, is considered perplexing if not irresponsible. After all, they are essential works of the moral imagination.

For years, I have been told how good these books are. In them, tales unfold of an extraordinary quest of unlikely heroes, unimaginable creatures and unexpected twists. Ice-capped mountains and lush valleys, barren hillsides and forbidding forests serve as terrain for a motley crew of unlikely allies who strive and suffer together towards an end much larger than themselves.

And so, earlier this year, my 10-year-old daughter and I decided to embark on reading The Hobbit together nightly as she went to bed.

And it has been extraordinary.

As we walked each night with the diminutive Bilbo Baggins from his cozy home in the Shire to the perilous wide world of Middle Earth, we encountered elves and wizards, trolls and goblins, spiders and orcs. We sensed the constant thrill of the adventure ahead mixed (paradoxically) with the forlorn homesickness for what was left behind. Again and again, we agreed with Bilbo’s skepticism about himself. He is a nimble thief? He is an indispensable member of group of dwarves trekking to reclaim a mountain and its treasure from a hell-spewing dragon? He is a hero? Right. But then, time and again, Bilbo proved he was just a little bit smarter, just a touch braver, just a smidge better than either my daughter or I expected. The little hobbit was growing. And we were growing with him.

But there were no small number of times that I wondered what the devil this hobbit thought he was doing. He had a comfortable home and an easy-going life. His books were well-ordered and his larder was full. His fire was toasty and his room warmly-lit. Why leave it all? Why walk away from the known and predictable for the wild and uncertain? Night after night, just walking with Bilbo into the greater unknown made me pull the comforter a bit tighter and snuggle a bit closer to my daughter.

But, after all, that is what these tales are all about. They remind us of our smallness, but our potential for greatness. They illustrate the peril of living dangerously, but also the risk of not living at all. They re-acquaint us with eternal verities (often considered outmoded) such as duty, loyalty and honor as well as the bright line (forever at risk of being blurred) separating right from wrong and good from evil. They instill in us a devotion to each other and a greater reason for being beyond our own selfish appetites. And they do this all in the form of a parable.

The great southern Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor once observed,

“I tell a story because a statement would be in adequate.”

Quite right. In a world deaf to platitudes, J.R.R. Tolkien decided to shout with hideous orcs, an incinerating dragon and an intoxicating ring. But the tale isn’t a tale for the sake of telling a tale. Allegories are allegories for a reason. They speak to sins and virtues, temptations succumbed to and temptations resisted, damnation averted and grace received. As G.K. Chesterton once noted,

Fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

Indeed.

We must remember: The dragon can be killed. The ring can be destroyed. You can endure suffering. You can return home.

Chesterton reminds us,

At the back of our brains, so to speak, there was a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence … The object of the artistic and spiritual life was to dig for this submerged sunrise or wonder; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he was actually alive, and be happy. 

As I was lying there reading The Hobbit to my 10-year-old daughter, I smiled and once again understood.

I am alive.

And I am happy.

Thank you, Todd and Aleteia!

Top 100 Catholic Books of all time?

I came across a really interesting post on Aleteia today called, “Confessions of a Catholic book hoarder” that reposted a list (credited to Fr. John McCloskey) of the supposed top 100 Catholic books of all time. I can’t vouch for whether that’s true, as I have not read most of them, but I enjoy lists like this and thought it would be interesting to share. I’ve noted the ones I’ve actually read, as well as those I own but haven’t read.

What about you? Have you read any of these? What do you think – do they belong on this list? Is there something you would add? Subtract? Let’s chat!

Fr. McCloskey’s Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan:

Catholicism Explained/Theology

The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adams
Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer
Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft
The Lord by Romano Guardini
Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine by Cardinal Newman
Parochial and Plain Sermons by Cardinal Newman
End of the Modern World by Romano Guardini
Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott — read parts for a class, own
The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper

History and Culture

The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc
How The Reformation Happened by Hilaire Belloc
Survivals and New Arrivals by Hilaire Belloc
Christendom I: Founding of Christendom by Warren Carroll

Holy Men and Women

Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge
Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman
Journal of a Soul by Pope John XXIII
The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day
St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G. K. Chesterton
St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton
Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
Mary of Nazareth by Federico Suarez
Cure of Ars by F. Trochu
Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer
Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel

Literary Classics

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson
The Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos
Hopkins: Poetry and Prose by George Manley Hopkins
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri — own this, but have not read it
Christianity and Culture by T. S. Eliot
The Idea of a University by John Newman
Silence by Shusaku Endo
Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Lost in the Cosmos : The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy
Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset
Kristin Lavransdatter II : The Wife by Sigrid Undset
Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross by Sigrid Undset
Flannery O’Connor: Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien — read this a LONG time ago; also own it
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Spiritual Classics

Confessions of St. Augustine by St. Augustine — read!
Little Talks with God (modernized version of “The Dialogues”) by St. Catherine
City of God by St. Augustine
The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis
Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis — read!
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis — read!
The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
The Greatest Story Ever Told by Fulton Oursler
Meditations from a Simple Path by Mother Teresa
Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila
Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux — read!
My Way of Life/Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas — read portions for classes, own – it’s numerous large volumes, which I cannot imagine just reading through like a book!

Spiritual Reading

The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection by Alphonso Liguori
Uniformity with God’s Will by Alphonso Liguori
Spiritual Theology by Jordan Aumann
Frequent Confession by Benedict Baur
In Silence with God by Benedict Baur
Difficulties in Mental Prayer by Eugene Boylan
The Tremendous Lover by Eugene Boylan
Covenanted Happiness by Cormac Burke — I own this, and started reading it but I found it incredibly hard to get through and gave up pretty early on
The Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard
Friends of God by Jose Maria Escriva
Christ Is Passing By by Jose Maria Escriva
The Way, Furrow, The Forge by Jose Maria Escriva
Way of the Cross by Jose Maria Escriva
All for Jesus by Frederick W. Faber
Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Introduction to Devout Life by Francis deSales
Treatise on the Love of God by Francis deSales
Three Ages of Interior Life Volume I by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Three Ages of Interior Life Volume II by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Sinner’s Guide by Venerable Louis of Grenada
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis
True Devotion to the Holy Spirit by Luis M. Martinez
True Devotions by Louis-Marie Grignion De Montfort
The Hidden Power of Kindness by Lawrence G. Lovasik
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
The Sadness of Christ by Thomas More
Conversation with Christ by Peter T. Rohrbach
Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli
Theology and Sanity by Francis J. Sheed
Theology for Beginners by Francis J. Sheed
To Know Christ Jesus by Francis J. Sheed
Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen
Three to Get Married by Fulton J. Sheen
The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanqueray
Abba Father by Bonaventure Perquin
Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand

Miscellaneous

Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II
Companion Guide to Rome by Georgina Masson
The King’s Good Servant but God’s First by James Monti
50 Questions on the Natural Law by Charles E. Rice
The Intellectual Life by A. G. Sertillanges
Essays on Woman by Edith Stein