Five Books that Have Influenced You Most

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The Anchoress � What 5 Books Inspired You?

The Anchoress, via Julie D., asks the question--other than the Bible, what 5 books have influenced you most?

That's an extremely difficult question because I think through all of the books I have read and I can see so many different influences in so many different directions. But let me make an attempt. These will not necessarily be in order of importance--merely in order of occurrence to me.

1. Thomas Mallory's Morte D'Arthur--which taught me something about what it means to be selfless and devoted to a cause; something about the meaning of nobility; and something about the nature of God.

2. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glassby Lewis Carroll which taught me something about language, something about the essential absurdity of everyday events, something about the beauty of language perfectly used, and something about how poetry can be used effectively in prose to amplify both.

3. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain--taught me something about being a boy and something about what romantic inclinations are

4. Story of a Soul St. Therese of Lisieux. Taught me what St. John of the Cross said and how to practically apply it to my own life. (Haven't done it yet, but still, she did show me.)

5. Dubliners (Most particularly "The Dead," the single most perfect story ever composed in English) or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Ulysees James Joyce--all three taught me exactly the same thing--that no matter what Joyce may have come to think of the Church, he was always guided and influenced by it despite himself, and that the truth was there if I would only look for it. This is a very long story, but it was probably one of two or three books most influential in bringing me tot he Catholic Church (the others would be the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and some of the essays of C.S. Lewis).

Okay, I've listed more than 5,but if I have to choose from the brood at the end, I would probably go with Ulysses in that it taught me that being Catholic doesn't necessarily make you stupid (a prejudice I had to fight hard to overcome due to some influences in early Childhood and some very bad examples of how to be Catholic I experienced early on.)

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You said: that no matter what Joyce may have come to think of the Church, he was always guided and influenced by it despite himself.

I say: very true. You can take the man out of the Church but you cannot take the Church out of the man. Just look at the Catholic inspiration of CS Lewis, FS Fitzgerald, JRR Tolkien, TS Elliot, to name just a few.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 28, 2005 1:18 PM.

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