This Friday is the First Day of Autumn. All the crying faces here, because it takes awhile for any resemblance of my favorite season to be recognizable on these streets. I tend to look for it in other ways, like the curried gold of a Tibetan monk's robe. That's so disconnected and pathetic. But I know a girl in Florida who turns on her air conditioning so that she can light her pumpkin candle and wear scarves. We do what we need to do.
Autumn speaks to me about the reality of life, the nostalgia of memory, and the ache of beauty. And those are things I'm naturally drawn to read about as well. So for a sort of "fall list" of reading, I'd like to share an array of female writers I've come across lately that have inspired or spoken to me in some way.
They are "an array" because they all do what is interesting and compelling to me, explore our humanness and the mystery of faith and our broken world and beauty and truth, but they come at these themes from many places, some far from where I sit. But I think that's a good thing.
Some of these are new (to me) and some are newly published, and some are ones I've loved for a long time but am currently reading again.
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan is being hailed as a possible next "Great American Novel" and it is currently in my shopping cart. I haven't read this one yet but I heard a fascinating discussion on the book and it's themes of race, family, and place, and the reviews are intriguing. Check out this review in The New Yorker and another insightful interview at the Commonweal.
I was blown away by this essay Bent Body, Lamb in Image Journal last year... only to hear the author, Molly McCully Brown interviewed a few weeks ago on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I didn't realize it was the same author until I looked up her new book of poems which has the strangest title, but when you hear her read a poem, it's mesmerizing and haunting and makes you reflect on the theological meaning of the body, of suffering, of our treatment of one another in our frailties and freakishness, our struggle with faith, and the beautiful way God enters in.
Endearing, funny, makes your heart twinge and twist ... a short and beautifully truthful essay, The Tattoo Monologues.
Currently on my nightstand, The Road to Coorain, a spare and insightful memoir about a beautiful childhood growing up in the Australian bush, the tragedy that shaped a life, and eventually led the author to Harvard and on to become president of Smith College.
I can't remember what led me to this book, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (a Chinese title if I've ever heard one), but she is an acclaimed young author, and I'm always drawn to memoirs, biographies, or stories that illuminate some facet of the people and place of China.
Today, this essay, Glorying in Flawless Skin and God's Love spoke straight to my soul, the part of my soul that questions every thing I ever say to my daughter. Also, it was funny. And Lord knows I need funny.
Every few days... I like to have a dose of Flannery O'Connor or Dorothy Day. They have both recently come into more popular acclaim and I've enjoyed seeing their names pop up frequently with posts and reviews and references. But they still need to be shouted about. So there you go, you should read them. But also, read about them, because that helps to give some framework and insight. Sometimes my favorite thing is just to read their letters.