Walking a Literary Labryinth: A Spirituality of Reading

Overview

Who of us doesn’t have a list of books that changed our life? Reflecting on her own reading life, Nancy Malone examines the influence of reading in how we define ourselves. Throughout, she likens the experience of reading to walking a labyrinth, itself a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life. The paths within the labyrinth are not straight, but winding, and in the end, it is not the small circle in the center that defines the self, but the whole grand design of the labyrinth—every experience, every ...

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Overview

Who of us doesn’t have a list of books that changed our life? Reflecting on her own reading life, Nancy Malone examines the influence of reading in how we define ourselves. Throughout, she likens the experience of reading to walking a labyrinth, itself a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life. The paths within the labyrinth are not straight, but winding, and in the end, it is not the small circle in the center that defines the self, but the whole grand design of the labyrinth—every experience, every person we meet, and every book we read—that makes us who we are.

Malone draws from diverse sources, both spiritual and secular—Virginia Woolf, Saint Augustine, E. E. Cummings, Paul Tillich, Nadine Gordimer, George Herbert, Sue Grafton, Henry James, George Eliot, James Joyce, Patrick O’Brien, E. M. Forster, Franz Kafka, Elie Wiesel, Margaret Atwood, and Tom Wolfe, to name a few. Her thoughtful and beautifully articulated examination of influential books takes in a broad range of subjects, including childhood reading; books as sacred objects; reading and social responsibility; “dangerous” reading, which challenges us to examine our prejudices and beliefs; poetry; and erotic literature. And Malone has compiled a recommended reading list to inspire readers to seek out the unfamiliar or return to old favorites.

In Walking a Literary Labyrinth, Malone invites all us readers, of every religious tradition, or none, to consider the influence of reading in our own lives—how and why particular books stay with us, how they shape us, and how they enlarge our humanity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594480027
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.27 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy M. Malone, O.S.U., is an Ursuline nun with a degree in theology from Harvard Divinity School. She was an editor at Religion and Intellectual Life and a coeditor of Cross Currents.

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Table of Contents

Walking a Literary Labyrinth Prologue

The ABCs of the Self
First Steps to Interiority
Reflection. Take And Eat: The Act of Reading

"Take And Read"
A Turning Point
Reflection. Sacramentality: The Book and the World

"Not by Bread Alone"
Spiritual Reading in a Literary Desert
Reflection. Pilgrams and Monks: Reading and Praying

The Circle Widens
Theology as Spiritual Reading?
Reflection. Pleasure: Wasting Time for the Sake of God

Recovering The Self
Stories: Fact and Fiction
Reflection. The Grammar of The Spirit

Alone at the Center?
Intimacy in Reading and Prayer
Reflection. Poetry: A Deeper Intimacy

Our Bodies, Our Selves
The Erotic in Spirituality and in Literature

A Literary Contemplatio ad Amorem
Imagination: Faith, Hope, and Love

Epilogue
"Give Beauty Back": An Apologia

Recommended Reading
Fiction
Short Pieces That Have Made Me Laugh
Nonfiction
Biography and Autobiography
Spiritual Reading and Theology
For the Theologically Minded

Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2008

    The book for book lovers

    You'd think that a nun would just read books for nuns, as if there's a list of books that nuns should read but Ms. Malone shares her insights on the books she has read from childhood to adulthood. And its just so exciting that she was able to articulate the way book lovers feel about the stories and authors that fill their lives. So much so that there are people who 'eat books' or folks who 'read or die!'. What's even nicer is that Ms. Malone has this list of books found at the end with a few words about it. For book lovers, I'm sure you'd say to yourself, 'Hey! I've read that book also!' when you read through 'Walking a Literary Labyrinth'. It was such a nice gift for me from my aunt that I just plan to buy copies to give my book lover friends. Reading is truly the food for the soul.

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