Two Beautiful Books – UPDATED

Sometimes the best part of this job is the enormous number of books that show up on my doorstep. Come to think of it, it’s also the worst part, because I can’t possibly read them all, and I end up feeling bad about that, even as I at least “try” to mention them all.

There are two beautiful books that I have recently made time to look at and read — look at because they’re loaded with sometimes stunning photographs, and read because the stories attached to the pictures are so interesting and even inspiring.

First up, Mother Teresa; The Life and Works of a Modern Saint by David Van Biema and the editors of Time Magazine, with an intro by Rick Warren. This book is a collection of photos of Mother Teresa — many of which I confess I had not seen before — and featured articles on this remarkable woman. I started thumbing through it a few nights ago and ended up reading straight through because I was fascinated, moved, and drawn deeply into the story of her faith and work. Ultimately, I found myself inspired to examine my own life and wondering what I have to offer the world that is small, simple, and rooted in nothing but willingness, because worthiness is just an illusion. This is one of those books to leave on your coffee table — particularly if you have teenagers around the house — so they might pick it up at odd times and leaf through it. Where it takes them, and all of us, can be surprising.

Another pretty book that I enthusiastically recommend: The Chapels of Notre Dame by Lawrence S. Cunningham, with photography by Matt Cashore.

Having made a short visit to Notre Dame in my youth, I knew there were “a lot” of chapels on campus — enough to celebrate over 150 masses a week — but I’d seen only one. There are “old” chapels, “academic” chapels, Congregation of the Holy Cross chapels, residential chapels, and all of them have stories behind them — why they were erected, who pushed for them, what they have come to mean to the students, faculty and benefactors of the University. I found myself really resting in some of these gorgeous images of icons, reliquaries, inspired artwork, breathtaking stained glass. It’s a lovely, lovely book, particularly for anyone who has a soft spot for the place.

I know it’s a little early to say “Christmas is coming.” (Some of us do start pondering what gifts are suitable for whom right about now), but I think either of these books would be terrific Christmas presents.

You can see some more of the gorgeous images in this book (like the one below) by scrolling down on our landing page.

David Van Biema on Why Mother Teresa Still Matters
“to a secular Jew like me”.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Matthew

    As an ND grad, class of ’87, I visited many of these chapels. I found most of them sad shells. Chapels in the older dorms had been gutted back in the late ’60′s by Fr. Ted and company. What I would love to see is a book of photographs of these chapels as they used to look in all their glory. What is perhaps sadder is that we have come to accept such a low standard of what counts as beautiful – gee it doesn’t look like an airplane hangar – its beautiful.

  • Jo

    I’m looking forward to seeing the images in this book. I hope they have included some of the few extant photographs of what some of the chapels used to look like. As a student (’10) I was curious about their history and managed to come up with a few images from the University Archives, but there aren’t many, even from the many volumes of yearbooks there. After seeing an old photograph of the original chapel in my own dorm (ca. 1920s), I was shocked that anyone would have torn it apart. Luckily a few (e.g. Alumni Hall), have gone largely untouched.

  • Peggy Coffey

    I would love to read a good, unbiased, book on the life of Mother Theresa. I don’t know much about her life and what drew her to her vocation and would like to know more about her. I don’t want author spin on her life, I just want the whole story. I really believe she was a saint in our time. Is this a good book for that or are there more? I trust your judgement more than anyone else I could ask.

    [I thought this book was very balanced. I think you'd like it. -admin]

  • Diane

    Thanks for posting this. Both my kids are recent ND grads. My son’s dorm chapel in St. Ed’s was beautiful – not all dorm chapels are – but the experience of celebrating dorm mass every week with their friends and classmates was very special for both of them and one of their favorite memories of college. Will keep this in mind for Christmas.