GIFT AND GOOD READS: My friend John Zmirak, who earlier this year edited Disorientation; How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind, to which I happily contributed along with many writers much better than I, writes with some humor about (among other things) the trials and tribulations of getting his latest book out in time for Christmas:
My new Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins is finally on sale — delayed as it was for months by the publisher’s thrifty decision to outsource its layout and printing to tiny, helpful gnomes from the Brothers Grimm. I had great heaping piles of books at last, along with all my older titles, and that day I got to remember the glamorous side of being an author: schlepping (with spindly writer’s limbs) big boxes of books out of car trunks, down crowded sidewalks, into service entries, and up flights of stairs. By the time I heaved the last box onto the crimson tables in the posh drawing room (lined with portraits of glowering Puritans) that was to host our college event, I was damp, rumpled, and grumpy. I looked and smelt like Jimmy Breslin, and the bar wouldn’t open for hours.
I confess, I had not seen John’s two previous “Bad Catholic” books, but he sent me a review copy of this one, (signed, even) and I think it’s pretty cute. Amid some pretty droll illustrations and prose that moves between pleasant snark, clever asides and some outright hilarity, John manages to explore the 7 deadly sins and their corresponding virtues and then alternately rah-rah’s and pummels the reader into realizing that–yes, we’re all trapped in some of these sins, all lacking some of these virtues–but we are not without hope, help or grace.
And with those three things giving an assist, we can overcome!
A neat, unusual book. If you need an unusual last-minute gift, this may suit you well!
GOOD READ: Have yourself a scary little Christmas
GIFT: The more I listen to these Benedictine Nuns in France, the more I am transported. And I like the bio their PR folk sent:
“We would like to say to Great Britain and then to the rest of the world that Decca Music makes us able to speak by means of Gregorian chanting. We want to send a message to our contemporaries, one that is most needed. A message that God loves us madly. And in Jesus we can find the meaning of life and return this love. It is a message of infinite joy which alone can cure the mortal sadness of our times.”
After a long search hearing nuns singing all over the world they chose these nuns. Says Tom Lewis: “The Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation represents everything about modern life that you could escape from. And they are quite simply the best singers. . . .
“We looked at nuns in Boston who have a Facebook page and are very media friendly. But almost felt as if they were too accessible. We listened to African nuns in London and they sang African hymns. Although they were amazing it didn’t transport you to another world.
This is ancient and mysterious and you hear that in the record. It’s intriguing why these women would make the choice to wholeheartedly cut themselves off from the world. It’s the ultimate mystique.”
It’s pretty special.
GOOD READ: Man spends year of unemployment giving $10 a day to strangers. Very interesting chap, with an interesting idea. He has work now, too, which is good. God is never outdone in generosity, even if He’s not in your picture.
GIFT: 16 Nuns, 16 Journeys: a charming little book (though possibly late for Christmas ordering); 16 Dominican nuns from Summit, NJ talk about how they ended up in a cloister, praying upwards of six hours a day. Nice for a young niece of mine, and for an older friend, as well.
GOOD GIFT: Time
GOOD READ: An Old/New Model for Catholic Schools
GOOD GIFT: I am a sucker for a sock monkey.
GOOD READ: Catholic Radio becoming Voice of Democracy in Southern Sudan.
GOOD GIFTS: Time’s a wastin’!. I’m thankful for those who have used the Amazon links and search box to do some of your shopping; by doing so you’ve donated to the site without additional cost to yourselves. I still did some Amazon shopping tonight, but as things come down to the wire, gift cards are always good!