For me to give a certain book to three different people for Christmas, it has to strike me as a special book. And "Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me" by Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English at Liberty University (and a writing buddy of mine), is a very special book indeed.
Karen's book is simultaneously a spiritual memoir and a tribute to the books that have shaped her life. It would have been impossible for her to separate the two aspects of her story, in fact. As she writes in her first chapter:
". . . For much of my life, I loved books more than God, never discovering for a long, long time that a God who spoke the world into existence with words is, in fact, the source of meaning of all words. My journey toward that discovery is the story of this book. I thought my love of books was taking me away from God, but as it turns out, books were the backwoods path back to God, bramble-filled and broken, yes, but full of truth and wonder."
Karen's journey through literature to God is an utterly absorbing one. However you feel about any given story or author that she describes, you'll more than likely be drawn in by the powerful, even life-changing insights that she finds in them all. (I knew I would love the Dickens chapter, but I never expected to love the Hardy chapter as much as I did!)
As an added bonus, the High Calling blog is currently conducting an online discussion group about the book, which I'm sure is going to make the reading experience even more delightful. So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of "Booked." You might even find yourself giving away a few, too. It's just too good to keep to yourself.