Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Books

Every Christmas, relatives and friends gift me with books.

Some of the books are ones I've indicated in not always subtle ways that I want. This year, for example there was one particular book (involving Chesterton, I might add) that I really wanted. When a catalog from a well-known Catholic publisher arrived, I searched through it until I found the title, folded the catalog open to the right page, circled the book several times, and sang some Christmas carols with an earnest smile.

I got that book.

Other times people give me books based upon my particular interests. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi, poetry, and Dickens are among the interests addressed this year.

Some people knowing my quirky sense of humor give me books they think I will find amusing. This year, a relative who moved to Utah, a state that, to be honest, has never been of the slightest interest to me, although I do like Marie Osmond's version of a Dada poem, sent me a book about Utah curiosities. I've already discovered one story in it about a woman who uses cow pies - yes, those "pies" - to make clocks, and picture and mirror frames.

A keeper.

The books end up either next to my bed in the pile of books to be read, or outside the "reading room."

This year's additions:

In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton. Circles and Christmas Carols do work.

The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis by Paul Sabatier. Chesterton's biography is the essential one, in my opinion, but this modern examination of his life looks like it has much to offer.

Surpassing Pleasure by John Slater. A contemporary Cistercian poet: I can't wait to test those verbal waters.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. I'd actually read many of these poems long ago and enjoyed them, so it's wonderful to have them before me again. Plus, it's nice to be reminded that Eliot didn't always write as if he had spiritual heartburn.

How to Do Everything (From the Man Who Should Know) by Red Green. Red Green is a Canadian comedian who is an acquired taste, and a taste that I acquired long ago.

The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford. A book that examines how Dickens helped to save Christmas from those who would downplay the celebration of it, and, in the process, apparently saved his own career. I've always loved Dickens and his Christmas tales, so this should be an intriguing read.

Utah Curiosities by Brandon Griggs. Cow pies. Need I say more?

Much reading to do.

Oh joy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I've been remiss: Merry Christmas

Happy Feast of St. Stephen.

I realized today I had not posted here in about three months. Chesterton deserves better than that!

This Christmas I gave a copy of Chesterton's Irish impressions to an Irish friend. And then (after some not so subtle hinting on my part), on Christmas morning my dear bride presented me with a copy of In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G. K. Chesterton.

It's wonderful to find some of may favorite essays - "A Piece of Chalk," "What I Found in My Pocket," "On Lying in Bed," "Cheese," and more - all in one place. And there are many other essays I haven't read yet conveniently waiting for me.

I just have to finish Ron Hansen's Exiles, and then I dig into this treasure trove.

As for my Chesterton endeavors, I'll be sending in to Gilbert a batch of clerihews my students wrote, and scribbling a few more of my own. Plus, I've decided to give a more prominent role to the Chesterton-based character in that novel I've been writing forever.

Tally ho!