Meet a Reader: John Donnelly { @TheCatholicPost }

Following is the “Meet a Reader” feature that appears on the book page of the current print issue of The Catholic Post.


How you know me: I teach religion and Spanish at Peoria Notre Dame High School, and also bartend at Donnelly’s Irish Pub most Saturday nights.

Why I love reading: Reading is my absolute favorite thing to do. One of my favorite writers, David Foster Wallace, once said in an interview that reading makes him less alone intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I love it as a form of communicating with others. You never know exactly what someone else is thinking, but sometimes reading brings us close to achieving that. The really great books let us know that others may have felt what we feel, thought what we’ve thought. The hundreds or thousands of years between author and reader can just fall away. My favorite books speak to Faulkner’s verities and truths of the heart. Another writer I came across recently talks about finding out what matters in the world and what it means to be human – I think the best books do that too.

What I’m reading now:

I’m currently reading (re-reading in fact, but it’s been over 10 years now) Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude along with some other teachers from school. I spent a couple of years in Latin America after college – it’s astonishing how much history he weaves in and out of the story. I’m also halfway through Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me after seeing it on so many “best of” lists last year. It’s amazing – he does a really fantastic job of interrogating himself and the world around him.

My favorite book: As much as I could talk about Flannery O’Connor, or David Foster Wallace, or Andre Dubus, or Raymond Carver (especially “A Small, Good Thing”), I’d still choose J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I’ve never gotten as lost in a book as I have that one. John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy would be a close second. They have a similar tone – I’d like to imagine the conversation those two might have had together. I think they were both at Oxford together at the same time – maybe they did.