This month’s “reader” is an author with local roots. My review of her new book is in the current print Catholic Post Thanks, Emily! I look forward to meeting you at the Behold Conference in just a few days.
How you know me: I’m a contributing editor to “Our Sunday Visitor,” a blogger for CatholicVote, and the author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years. Although I now live just outside of Pittsburgh (in Steubenville, Ohio), I was born and raised in Rock Island, attended Jordan Catholic School, and go to Mass at St. Mary’s Parish when I’m home visiting my parents, Gary and Ricki Stimpson. Most of my family still lives in the Peoria diocese, including my second cousin Adam, who is parochial vicar for three parishes in LaSalle, and my aunt Susie Budde, who directs choirs for both Sacred Heart Rock Island and Sacred Heart Moline.
Why I love reading: Story-telling, at its best, is truth-telling. A good story gives flesh to all that’s beautiful and true. That helps us discover worlds and ideas beyond our imagining. It also helps us discover much more familiar territory: the human heart.
What I’m reading now: It’s Lent, so I’ve had to lay aside the Agatha Christie murder mystery I was reading and pick up my normal Lenten fare, Dante’s Divine Comedy. Every Lent my goal is to make it all the way from the beginning of Dante and Virgil’s tour through Hell in the Infernoto Dante’s reunion with his lost love Beatrice in the Paradiso. That literary journey helps me understand the journey every soul is on in this life. It also reminds me why we Catholics do what we do during Lent—what all that praying, fasting, and sacrificing is about.
My favorite book: I love too many books to pick just one, so I always tell people I have favorite authors more than favorite books, writers who’ve changed the way I see the world and the life I’m living. At the top of that list are C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and John Paul II: Lewis for his clarity, Chesterton for his sense of wonder, and John Paul II for his theology of the body, which is really an articulation of the Incarnation and what it means to be a human person. If I had to add one more, it would be P.G. Wodehouse: He’s a master of wit and words. A regular dose of his work keeps my writing sharp, quick, and tight.