Posted by: Tom Gaddis | December 3, 2009

Old Books and Wide Laps

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents”—Emilie Buchwald

More and more I’m finding myself drawn to books that are old; books whose words are like red oak, seasoned over time. These are authors of history shaping importance. People such as Augustine, Benedict, Luther, Calvin, Loyola, and Teresa are some of the laps I’ve crawled up on, slowly learning to form their words in my mind.

Sabbath days and early weekday mornings are ideal times for this. Though some of what these historical people say is blurry—traveling over my head—many of their words are plain to my thinking, giving a perspective, wisdom, and shedding light on my today.

I’m thinking that in blogs-to-come of bringing you face to face with these great souls and keen intellects of the past. All offered in the spirit of the child who has discovered Goodnight Moon or Prince Caspian and desires his friends to share in the discovery.

Which older books and authors have you read in part or totally? What mark have they left upon you?



  1. Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love! I did a research paper on Julian my last year as a literature major, and I was so excited that I could both fulfill my degree requirements and glean so much spiritual wisdom from reading about her and studying her visions. Also, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, fantastic meditations on the Song of Songs.

    • Awesome. If I remember correctly Julian was the first woman to write a book in the English language. Norwich by the the way is the area of ENgland that Fran Graham is from. SO tell me what was the impact on you from reading Julians revelations?

      • Yes, she was the first woman to write in English, a huge accomplishment for that era! I enjoyed her perspective on how Jesus poured out his body and blood for us much like a mother pours out her milk to nourish her child. At first it seemed really bizarre to think of Jesus as a mother, but the more I read, it made sense. It also gave me more of a feeling of identity within Jesus… He poured out his life for us, I have to follow that example and pour out my life for my children.

  2. Although not quite as old and an author of fiction, Dostoevsky is still one of my favorite authors. “Crime and Punishment,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” and “Notes From The Underground” being my favorites. The redemption of the irredeemable, true charity and the power of confession to another human being are some of the themes that speak deeply to me, a sinner saved by grace.

    • Thanks for your comment David. I think Dostoevsky defintely qualifies as an older book in my thinking. You make me want ot grab one his writings and begin reading. Thanks and good to hear from you–friend.

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