by Father Mark Goldasich
Tired of 2020? Looking for a cheap way for you and your loved ones to get away from it all? Well, try this: Read. A. Book.
With the holiday season now upon us and our Christmas gift list staring us in the face, who honestly wants to go out and shop in person, especially with COVID-19 cases spiking and the flu waiting in the wings? Well, have I got a suggestion for you: Buy. A. Book.
If you don’t know where to start hunting down gift books with a religious flavor, let me recommend a few of my recent favorites.
If the pandemic has you complaining, “The Way of Gratitude: Readings for a Joyful Life” (Orbis Books, 2017; 224 pgs.; $18) can remedy that. Its 46 short entries from a wide variety of writers — from Father Henri Nouwen to J.K. Rowling to e.e. cummings — will shift your focus from all that’s been missing these past months to the many miracles that you’ve been blind to.
For those who want to explore the Bible on a deeper level, you can’t go wrong with “Abba Isn’t Daddy and Other Biblical Surprises” (Ave Maria Press, 2019; 180 pgs.; $16.95). This book is written for “people in the pews,” as its subtitle suggests: “What Catholics Really Need to Know about Scripture Study.” Author William L. Burton, OFM, explores, among other topics, where and when the Bible was created, the origins of the Lord’s Prayer and whether “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. It’s interesting, educational . . . and yes, surprising.
If you’ve saved money from not going out to eat or to the movies, then you might want to splurge on “Vatican Museums: 100 Works Not to be Missed” (Paulist Press, 2019; 485 pgs.; $99.95, but often much cheaper online). This almost 10-pound, coffee table book is loaded with lavish photos with plenty of close-up shots of the works, as well as explanations as to why they are so important. It’s almost as wonderful as actually seeing these pieces in person . . . and there’s no crowds to fight!
If you want to create your own artistic masterpieces, however, then the Printery House (www.printeryhouse.org) in Conception, Missouri, can help you out with some adult coloring books. Two of those are “The Advent Coloring Calendar” and “Words of Faith,” both $11.99. These books are wonderful for de-stressing and quiet meditation as well.
A very entertaining and spiritually uplifting book has this great title: “Jesus Wears Socks with Sandals” (Twenty-Third Publications, 2020; 118 pgs.; $14.95) by S. James Meyer. The author, a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, will amuse and inspire you with his “41 Stories of Humanity Being Ridiculously Lovable.” Deacon Meyer had me at the title, as well as with memorable chapter headings like “Go, Mennonite Guy!,” “Jesus Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Body of Christ is a Ham Sandwich.”
A perennial favorite is “Three Minutes a Day,” published by The Christophers. The latest in this series of daily meditations is Volume 55. Each entry is only a page long and includes a story, Scripture passage and short prayer. Copies are $10 on the website at: www.christophers.org. Click on the “Shop” button for not only the current volume but older ones as well.
Why do books make the perfect gift? Charles W. Eliot explains: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors; and the most patient of teachers.”
And they’re easy to wrap, too!