Hi. My name is Tod Worner. And I am dying to read a book.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am reading an immense amount right now. And I have no shortage of extraordinary books in my library (cue aristocratic tweaking of waxed moustache tip). It’s just that, at this point in time, what I WANT to read and what I HAVE to read are two different things. You see, I am studying for my Internal Medicine Board Recertification Exam which is a once in ten year test. While clinical practice affords the opportunity to constantly learn through experience, focused reading and “curbsiding” specialists, this exam requires hitting the books in an organized and comprehensive fashion starting well in advance of the test. As such, my reading and listening (to review courses) has been focused on various and sundry topics such as the staging and treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, the consideration of which antibiotic to use for a particular HIV-related opportunistic infections, and the best way to distinguish between supraventricular tachycardia with aberrancy and ventricular tachycardia. The human body is fascinating, the calling to practice medicine gratifying and the means of diagnosing and treating illness is an extraordinary (and humbling) venture. That said, there is an immense amount of material to cover. And so, while I love my job, I am simply dying to read a book.
My bright colleague, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, recently wrote What I Am Reading Right Now to catch us up on what he has found intriguing. Since you now all know what I am reading (renal tubular acidosis and treatments for herpes), I am going to give you my list of what I will be immersing myself in in less than one week (when my test is done – and God willing – behind me).
Here is What I Am Dying To Read:
The Sword Honor trilogy
The acerbic wit of Evelyn Waugh confronts World War II in three books, Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, and Unconditional Surrender. To be honest, I have read Men at Arms and found it quite enjoyable as it pits a worldly-wise, yet fallible middle-aged man wrestling with the ironies in war, politics, family and friends. It is a story of a man’s odyssey – true odyssey – for meaning that shames modern “voyages of self-discovery” that end in narcissitic self-help cul-de-sacs. I loved Brideshead Revisited.
I look forward to the Trilogy.
The Divine Comedy
Yes, yes, I’ve read large chunks of it through my life, but never in its entirety or with a true semblance of what is going on. Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece (translated by Clive James) has me salivating to (figuratively) walk through Hell, Purgatory and find myself with the author and Beatrice in Heaven. Again, I have started it and find it shockingly brilliant on so many levels (please see my forthcoming post which will expand on this). It is a tale about journeys, introspection, sin and its consequences, Grace and the Beatific Vision.
The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI – The Christocentric Shift
So many of the (well-deserved) compliments paid to Pope Francis today are back-hands to Pope Benedict XVI. As a former non-Catholic and papal skeptic, I am not one that would have been easily swayed to swoon before any pope. But once I read and truly considered the work of Pope Benedict XVI from The Introduction to Christianity, his trilogy on Jesus, his book-length interviews with Peter Seewald to his homilies, speeches and encyclicals, I was stunned. To paraphrase Chesterton, Benedict had not been tried and found wanting; he had been found difficult and left untried. Father Emery de Gaal’s book is regarded as a brilliant dissertation that will only whet my appetite for Benedict’s Opera Omnia selections I am preparing to buy.
Is God Happy?
Leszek Kolakowski has some serious street cred. A former glittering Marxist intellectual, he was stripped of his titles and awards (and effectively, his citizenship being forced into exile) when he committed one simple, yet objectionable mistake in the world of Communism – he asked whether the conclusions of Communism were true. Soon, he would disavow Communism, become the philosophical godfather of the Solidarity movement and write extensively with the witty, insightful, yet challenging pen akin to Havel, Solzhenitsyn and Orwell. Just a glimpse at a few of the essays in this book makes me eager. I may agree. I may disagree. But I will be better off for having read them.
The Portal of the Mystery of Hope
I will simply quote the brilliant Charles Peguy,
But hope, says God, that is something that surprises me.
That is surprising.
That these poor children see how things are going and believe that tomorrow things will go better.
That they see how things are going today and believe that they will go better tomorrow morning.
That is surprising to me and it’s by far the greatest marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.
And must flow freely and like an inexhaustible river.
Hope is a little girl, nothing at all.
Who came into the world on Christmas day just this past year.
Who is still playing with her snowman.
With her German fir trees painted with frost…
And yet it’s this little girl who will endure worlds.
This little girl, nothing at all,
She alone, carrying the others, who will cross worlds past.
Indeed. Peguy’s little girl, Hope. Going into the Board Exam, it is this Hope that comforts me most – that will endure worlds and carry me through this challenge like it carries all of us through all other challenges. Indeed.
My name is Tod Worner. And I am dying to read a book.
How about you?