Books from January 2019

Last year, I decided I needed to fight back against what the internet has done to me and read more books. I’ve never stopped reading but there has been a noticeable drop off that I attribute to a shortened attention span - and I think I’m safe in putting the blame on social media.

My resolution to focus on reading worked last year. I read about twice as much as the year before and I aim to continue that course.

Anyway, here is what I read in this first month of 2019.

Turn Right At Machu Picchu by Mark Adams

Part history of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu, part memoir of an expedition following that same path, this is a great story. I visited Peru (specifically our sister-diocese of Cuzco) in 2010 when I was a deacon and that trip has really stayed with me. Machu Picchu is an incredible place. Reading this tale of what the place was, how it was found, and what it means today put me right back in that moment. I would recommend this if you enjoy history and stories of exploration and adventure.

The Collapsing Empire / The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

When I read Scalzi’s earlier novel, Old Man’s War, I enjoyed the humor and the engrossing world-building. This new trilogy (the third book is not out yet) did not disappoint. It tells the story of a galactic civilization that finds itself on the brink of a sort of apocalypse and we see, through the eyes of individual characters, what humanity might do in such a situation. Just a warning: Scalzi is not writing from a Catholic perspective and that includes sexuality. It’s a minor part of the story, but it’s there. Overall, a really fun and intriguing book.

Fire Season by Philip Connors

The story of a man who spent a big chunk of the year, for several years, living alone on a mountaintop watching out for forest fires. He shares lots of the day to day experiences as well as the history and philosophy of firefighting and how it has changed. The most interesting aspect of the book, though, is how a person deals with that kind of solitude. While Connors does not necessarily see himself as a religious person, he clearly has some close-to-religious experiences living alone in such close proximity to the glory of God’s creation.

In Sinu Jesu by A Benedictine Monk

This book is the journal of an anonymous Benedictine monk who reportedly began hearing messages from Jesus and Mary in 2007. Just that premise would make this something I typically wouldn’t be interested in reading … BUT, it turns out that I would be missing out. This book can be life-changing, particularly for priests. It calls us to an intimate friendship with Jesus - something that is easy to take for granted. I sincerely and wholeheartedly recommend it to any priest. It’s not a page-turner - it’s more something that can slowly bear fruit through slow meditation. Again, I highly suggest this for you if you are a priest.