Yes, fellow Compulsive Overreaders, it is time once again for my annual experiment in laying aside fiction and getting through a hefty pile of spiritual, theological or generally religious-ish non-fiction — usually things I’ve wanted to read but haven’t got around to because there are too many good novels to read. I’m starting Lent this year with a shelf-full of books and an attitude of openness to other books that might fall into my path, as some always do.
If you’re interested in what I’ve read and reviewed in past years, last year’s Lenten booklist can be found here by looking at the archives for Feb., March and April 07 (see the sidebar for links). In a different format on my old non-bloggy blog, you can find reviews of the books I read in Lent 05 by scrolling down this page; likewise 2004 can be found here. (I think 2006 was the ill-fated year I tried to give up reading altogether for Lent, which is why there are no reviews for 06 and why that whole six-week period is probably best forgotten).
As you can see if you checked any of those lists, I get through a very diverse range of books. To some extent I create a reading list for myself by choosing and finding copies of interesting books I’ve heard about during the year. I make vague attempts to balance generally devotional and thought-provoking books about Christianity with something more heavy and scholarly (this year I have something called Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World), at least one book about a non-Christian religion (this year’s selection is No god but God, a book about Islam that comes highly recommended), some memoirs (I’m a little short in that department this year, so any suggestions are welcome!), a Christian “classic” (this year it’s Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle), and at least one book that I think I’ll violently disagree with (I am trying to get either God is Not Great or The God Delusion for this year, but both have long waitlists at my library).
Apart from the books I plan to read, others tend to fall serendipitiously into my lap during Lent. One year Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God was an unexpected discovery; last year both Shaine Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love were impulse reads about which I knew very little, and all of those have become favourites of mine.
My journey through my Lenten reading list is almost always my most profound spiritual experience of the year — from books that inspire me to books that disturb me, and always lots of books that make me think about something new and different. I hope you’re on board for this year as I start reviewing what I’m reading over the next several weeks between now and Easter.