#63 Topical Discussion
Acedia & me
Kathleen Norris had written several much loved books, yet she couldn't drag herself out of bed in the morning, couldn't summon the energy for her daily tasks. Even as she struggled, Norris recognized her familiar battle with acedia, a word she had discovered in early Church text years earlier. Fascinated by this "noonday demon", so familiar to those in the early and medieval Church, Norris knew she must restore this forgotten but important concept to the modern world's vernacular. An examination of acedia in the light of psychology, spirituality, the healing powers of religious practice, and Norris's own experience, Acedia & Me is both intimate and historically sweeping, brimming with exasperation and reverence, sometimes funny, often provocative, and always insightful.More info →
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way.
In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers supporting hundreds of enormous bookstores and online booksellers. Oprah's Book Club is hugely influential, and a recent NEA survey reveals an actual uptick
in the reading of literary fiction. Jacobs's interactions with his students and the readers of his own books, however, suggest that many readers lack confidence; they wonder whether they are reading well, with proper focus and attentiveness, with due discretion and discernment. Many have absorbed
the puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you--the intellectual equivalent of eating your Brussels sprouts. For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without
shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible. In contrast to the more methodical approach of Mortimer Adler's classic How to Read a Book (1940), Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers. Each chapter focuses on one
aspect of approaching literary fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and the book explores everything from the invention of silent reading, reading responsively, rereading, and reading on electronic devices.
Invitingly written, with equal measures of wit and erudition, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction will appeal to all readers, whether they be novices looking for direction or old hands seeking to recapture the pleasures of reading they first experienced as children.
The Lonesome Gods: An Epic Novel of the California Desert
“I am Johannes Verne, and I am not afraid.”
This was the boy’s mantra as he plodded through the desert alone, left to die by his vengeful grandfather. Johannes Verne was soon to be rescued by outlaws, but no one could save him from the lasting memory of his grandfather’s eyes, full of impenetrable hatred. Raised in part by Indians, then befriended by a mysterious woman, Johannes grew up to become a rugged adventurer and an educated man. But even now, strengthened by the love of a golden-haired girl and well on his way to making a fortune in bustling early-day Los Angeles, the past may rise up to threaten his future once more. And this time only the ancient gods of the desert can save him.
The Rector of Justin
Regarded as one of Louis Auchincloss's most accomplished novels, THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN centers on Frank Prescott, the founder of an exclusive school for boys. Eighty years of his life unfold through the observations of six narrators, each with a unique perspective on the man, his motivations, and the roots of his triumphs and failings.More info →
Leisure: The Basis of Culture
One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work The Philosophical Act. Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure -- a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves.More info →
How the Heather Looks
Over sixty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and their two children traveled to the UK for the adventure of a lifetime. There, they sought to discover the lands they knew from their beloved children's books. Come along and see for yourself the people and places behind the stories we love.
In Edinburgh, they stand outside the childhood home of Robert Louis Stevenson. They discover the countryside that inspired Caldecott's illustrations in Whitworth. In the Lake District, the farm where Jemima Puddle-duck laid her eggs. And in Winnie the Pooh Country Mrs. Milne herself shows the way to "that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." Join their adventures, from sleeping in a wagon to "messing about" in boats on the Thames. While not all their quests end in victory, like any marvelous story, how they get there is what matters.
While we can't all make the journey ourselves, we can let Joan Bodger take us along. As Emily Dickinson says, "even if we "have never seen a moor," we can still imagine "how the heather looks.""
How the Heather Looks has been called 'the book most often stolen by retiring children's librarians." This new edition features the stunning art by Mark Lang, and the authors' afterword, written thirty years after the book was first released.More info →
The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education (Revised Edition)
The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education introduces readers to a paradigm for understanding a classical education that transcends the familiar 3-stage pattern of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Instead, this book describes the liberal arts as a central part of a larger and more robust paradigm of classical education that should consist of piety, gymnastic, music, liberal arts, philosophy, and theology. The Liberal Arts Tradition also recovers the means by which classical educators developed more than just intellectual virtue (by means of the 7 liberal arts) but holistically cultivated the mind, body, will, and affections. This is a must-read for educators who want to take a second big step toward recovering the tradition of classical education.More info →
Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismissing notions that classical education is elitist and irrelevant, Hicks argues that the classical tradition can meet the needs of our increasingly technological society as well as serve as a feasible model for mass education.More info →
Reveals the neglected mode of knowing and learning, from Socrates to the middle ages and beyond, that relies more on the integrated powers of sensory experience and intuition, rather than on modern narrow scientific models of education.More info →
Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition
The educators of ancient Greece and Rome gave the world a vision of what education should be. The medieval and Renaissance teachers valued their insights and lofty goals. Christian educators such as Augustine, Erasmus, Milton, and Comenius drew from the teaching of Plato, Aristotle, and Quintilian those truths which they found universal and potent. Charlotte Mason developed her own philosophy of education from the riches of the past, not accidentally but purposefully. She and the other founding members of the Parents’ National Educational Union in England were inspired by the classical educators of history and set out to achieve their vision in modern education. They succeeded—and thanks to Charlotte Mason’s clear development of methods to realize the classical ideals, we can partake of the classical tradition as well.More info →
The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
"Fr. Sertillanges's teachings are as timeless as any truths which describe the genuine nature of things. . . . This book is highly recommended not only for intellectuals, but also for students and those discerning their vocation in life."―New Oxford Review
"[This] is above all a practical book. It discusses with a wealth of illustration and insight such subjects as the organization of the intellectual worker's time, materials, and his life; the integration of knowledge and the relation of one's specialty to general knowledge; the choice and use of reading; the discipline of memory; the taking of notes, their classification and use; and the preparation and organization of the final production."―The Sign
Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?More info →