“Fr Byers, we think you should read…”

amazon account


In a recent post I mentioned that Father Gordon MacRae said I would do well to read Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, something about the exploits of a counterterrorism unit surely named after the famed Rainbow Division of World War I which would itself inspire the founding of that which was the inspiration for the founding of the CIA.

The polite yet incisive response to that, without exactly dissing that reading recommendation, offered this:

“If you have an amazon account, we can send you whatever we think you should read” (adding a smiley face).

Not being much of a techy, I respond with the link above to a public wish list which for many years has been entirely empty. I’m not sure if people can just put things on that list or not…

Mind you, I’m the most un-well-read priest in the world, in world history. People of all stripes and backgrounds and cultures have been trying to get me to read this and that all my life. Father Gordon is only the most recent. There have been so many priests and bishops, Cardinals, laity… Seminarians at the last place I taught created an extensive “must read” list of pages, categorized into ancient works, poetry of the ages, classics of all kinds, modern, from a century to a handful of centuries ago, all must reads without which I should just curl up and die a most miserable death, utterly useless to all and sundry. This almost broke up a friendship with the most-well-read priest in Australia, who would start every conversation with me with: “Hey! Have you read….?” Grrr.

I am stubborn. But I can try. I can have good intentions. But you’re dealing with a donkey here, with ears laid back, wary, not understanding, eyes glazing over… (add smiley face).

On the other hand, I do have a good example from bygone days. My mom. She was a voracious reader. Read. Read. Read. As a little kid I was dragged along to the library with her, which I dreaded, as I would be tasked by carrying the book bag, in and out, I’m guessing thirty pounds worth each way (that’s a lot for a pipsqueak kid), every week. Of course, if I didn’t tumble down the granite staircase in front of the magnificent library of old, I was also pretty proud of myself. So, I can at least say I’ve been around libraries a lot. Oh, and then there’s this, with me still wearing my crippley boots:


I can handle whatever in English, Italian, Spanish, French. German (unpracticed since highschool) would slow me down quite a bit. I liked it then, but in Rome it was a pain to brush up on. Germans make up words on the fly. I like that, but, still. At this time I would struggle with anything in modern Hebrew, though I’ve been listening to some videos in Israeli Hebrew with its particularly unique pronunciation. Memories! There are other languages, but, be easy on me. If this is about trying to get me to read, make it super easy. Make it English. U.K. English is fine…

Meanwhile I go back to editing Father Gordon’s article for These Stone Walls this Wednesday…


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9 responses to ““Fr Byers, we think you should read…”

  1. Gina Nakagawa

    I promise no book recommendations, just thanks for your great articles, and a question: when will the donkey be returning to this site.? I am really crazy about donkeys, and I miss him.

  2. sanfelipe007

    The only way I have ever read anyone’s recommended book, was if they physically handed it to me. People rarely enjoy my recommendations, so I have just stopped – but, upon pain of death, if I had to recommend a book, I might suggest:

  3. nancyv

    My recent favorite is “The Mass of Brother Michel” by Michael Kent (dedicated to all priests); my former favorite was “Father Elijah” by Michel O’Brien; and my current favorite if I ever get a chance to finish (hint hint) is the book you wrote!

  4. I have always been an avid reader of books. In my early years it was mostly novels. The novels I loved the most were the ones that taught about life… Good versus Evil and novels that explained history from the perspective of those who lived in that time, be it political, religious or social experiences.

    In recent years I almost entirely read non-fiction, most of which is focused on faith and the teachings of Jesus. Some of which came from an unexpected source and I was reluctant to read at first. A friend had waxed lyrical on a book, the book struck a chord with me but I thought that I didn’t need to read it.

    The book presented itself to me when I visited a bookshop whilst browsing my usual book sections. It was a book that had never been there before and has not been there since that occasion. I picked up and put it down again, I didn’t need to read that! Then I realised (like the rainbow) it was a gift for me. I was supposed to read the book! The book took me deeper into the love of Jesus.

    This experience happened a few years before the rainbow I shared with you.
    There are other gifts that I have been given including some that I have failed to pick up on (two blue candles come to mind…). Sometimes I am just like Thomas the Apostle!

    After my ramblings…

    I would just say trust your instincts on whether you should read book recommendations from your friends.

  5. Monica Harris

    OK, next step.
    Put Rainbow Six on your list, as Kindle book.

  6. Gina Nakagawa

    I would like to recommend an older book, The Forty Days of Musah Dag by Franz Werfel. Little did the man realize he was writing a history of the future of his own people, or maybe he did. Great book, a page turner!

  7. pelerin

    Thanks to Gina for recommending another book by Franz Werfel. I first read his book ‘Song of Bernadette’ many years ago but never realised he had written another. And I recently read and enjoyed ‘Father Elijah’ mentioned by nancyv which had been lent to me by my Parish Priest.

    I would like to recommend to Fr Byers a book I found a couple of years ago in France although I do not know if it has yet been translated into English. ‘De la Kippa a la Croix’ (From the Kippa to the Cross) was written by Jean-Marie Elie Setbon who was an orthodox Jewish Rabbi who converted to Catholicism in 2008. It is a fascinating glimpse into what prompts people to convert to the Faith.

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