Books by Becka - Books to nourish mind, soul, and spirit

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In every case the storyteller is a man who has counsel for his readers. ~ Walter Benjamin

All libraries, everywhere, are connected by the bookwormholes in space created by the strong space-time distortions found around any large collection of books. ~ Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Now and then, when I look round on my books, they seem to waver as if a wind rippled their solid mass, and another world were about to break through. ~ George MacDonald, Lilith 

A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man's history.  It is a man's duty to have books. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come. ~ Richard Llewellyn

Like a house in the rain, books were havens of permanence and protection from whatever it was that as a child I needed protection from. ~ Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

A list of books that you reread is like a clearing in the forest:  a level, clean, well-lighted place where you set down your burdens and set up your home, your identity, your concerns, your continuity in a world that is at best indifferent, at worst malign.  Since you, the reader, are that hero of modern literature, the existential loner, the smallest denominator of moral force, it behooves you to take counsel, sustenance, and solace from the writers who have been writing about you these hundred or five hundred years, to sequester yourself with their books and read and reread them, to get a fix of yourself and a purchase on the world that will, with luck, like the house in the clearing, last you for life. ~ L.E. Sissman

Reading makes immigrants of us all.  It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere. ~ Hazel Rochman

Each age has its own outlook.  It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes.  We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period.  And that means the old books. ~ C.S. Lewis books I find the dead as if they were alive; in books I foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws of peace.  All things are corrupted and decay in time; Saturn ceases not to devour the children that he generates, all the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books. ~ Richard de Bury

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in yourself than there was before. ~ Clifton Fadiman

Yet an old book has something for me which no new book can ever have - for at every reading the memories and atmosphere of other readings come back and I am reading old years as well as an old book. ~ L.M. Montgomery

The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading.  Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. ~ C.S. Lewis, "On Stories," On Stories

Our reading can affect our imaginations in ways of which we are not consciously aware.  It is quite re-read something after a gap of many years and realize that it has been there all along, without any memory of where it was first encountered.  But it may have been working away all the time. ~ Tom Shippey, "Why Source Criticism?" Tolkien and the Study of his Sources, Jason Fisher, editor

One way to help youngsters to know and care about right and wrong is to acquaint them with good books.  When we see others from the inside, as we do in stories, when we live with them, and hurt with them, and hope with them, we learn a new respect for people. ~ William Kilpatrick, Books That Build Character

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty... ~ C.S. Lewis, "On Stories," On Stories

There is indeed no better medium for moral teaching than the good fairy-story (by which I mean a real deep-rooted tale, told as a tale, and not a thinly-disguised moral allegory). ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy is reality in unreality.  The question about fantasy is not whether the story has happened in our history, but is there truth in what happened. ~ Gladys Hunt

For fantasy is true, of course.  It isn't factual, but it is true.  Children know that.  Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy.  They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin, Language of the Night

The magical story is not a microscope but a mirror, not a drop of water but a well.  It is not simply one thing or two, but a multitude.  It is at once both lucid and opaque, it accepts both dark and light, speaks to youth and old age. ~ Jane Yolen, Touch Magic 

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A book ought to be an ax to break the frozen sea within us. ~ Anton Chekhov

In any traditional society, stories are where the life is, where those present maintain continuity with those in the past. ~ Kathleen Norris

...literature is the apparatus through which the world tries to keep intact its important ideas and feelings. ~ Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

Other people's stories may become part of your own, the foundation of it, the ground it goes on. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin, Gifts

We need to share our stories to discover and then integrate their significance and for personal and cultural change to take place.  Through telling and listening, we become more a part of each other, and we can move the stories out of the small "me" into the large "me," the "usness" of the collective. ~ Patrice Vecchione

No one seriously doubts that reading builds our vocabulary.  It is just as certain that stories build our moral vocabulary.  They shape our life together.  Stories become a part of us, and they change us. ~ Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara, From Homer to Harry Potter

The stories that you tell about your past shape your future. ~ Eric Ransdell

The very act of story-telling, of arranging memory and invention according to the structure of the narrative, is by definition holy.  We tell stories because we can't help it.  We tell stories because we love to entertain and hope to edify.  We tell stories because they fill the silence death imposes.  We tell stories because they save us. ~ James Carroll

Storytelling is our oldest form of remembering the promises we have made to one another and to our various gods, and the promises given in return; it is a way of recording our human emotions and desires and taboos. ~ Jane Yolen, Touch Magic

...the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~ Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

Our powerful hunger for myth is a hunger for community.  The person without a myth is a person without a home...To be a member of one's community is to share in its myths. ~ Rollo May

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. ~ James Russell Lowell

What flows into you from myth is not truth but reality (truth is always about something, but reality is that about which truth is), and therefore, every myth becomes the father of innumerable truths on the abstract level. ~ C.S. Lewis

A culture's myth explains a people's origin and destiny, orients them in history, guides them in the present, and points them to a future in which they and their offspring will live.  It locates them in the presence of their Creator and Benefactor, Judge and Advocate, and answers the questions of their existence.  A true myth has the power to explain where we came from, to shape our identity and purpose, to instill hope, to promote justice, and to sustain order. ~ Bruce L. Edwards, Not a Tame Lion

Myth is necessary because reality is so much larger than is fundamentally mythic...His real health depends upon his knowing and living his metaphysical totality. ~ Clyde S. Kilby

Whether or not people are aware of the fact, they cannot live without myth, nor can they reach full stature as people without true myths.  Wrong myths destroy lives; those only partially true affect the human spirit like disease.  A proper response to true myth is necessary to moral and spiritual health.  Allowing its figurative language free play upon the imagination and yielding to its claims upon one's life is a means by which readers can come to well-being for time and eternity. ~ Rolland Hein

Myth offers up truth as it is tasted and felt, not as it is reasoned out and memorized. ~ Jonathan Rogers, The World According to Narnia

Literature presents you with alternate mappings of the human experience.  You see that the experiences of other people and other cultures are as rich, coherent, and troubled as your own experiences.  They are as beset with suffering as yours.  Literature is a kind of legitimate voyeurism through the keyhole of language where you really come to know other people's lives - their anguish, their loves, their passions.  Often you discover that once you dive into those lives and get below the surface, the veneer, there is a real closeness. ~ Chaim Potok

Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.  Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see.  Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do. ~ C.S. Lewis

...its (myth's) specific power comes from its very generality.  Myth is how we comprehend our own experience.  We gaze at myth...and see ourselves.  And yet at the same time the power of its generality comes not from its vagueness, but rather from the concreteness of its symbols -- symbols that are freed from the limiting association with one single people, one single time, one single place. ~ Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara, From Homer to Harry Potter

Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by "the veil of familiarity." ~ C.S. Lewis, "Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings," On Stories

The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation...Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it. ~ Flannery O'Connor

...we all want to hear stories, from the moment we are born to the moment we die.  Stories connect our little lives with the world around us and help us discover who we are. ~ Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey

 To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well.  It's unwise, though, to think you know how it's going to go, or how it's going to end. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin, Gifts

Storytelling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our most basic needs:  passing along our traditions, confessing failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, strengthening our sense of community. ~ Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness

There is an extraordinary power in storytelling that stirs the imagination and makes an indelible impression on the mind. ~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

A religion book is a book with religion in it in the everyday sense of religious ideas, symbols, attitudes, and...characters and setting that to one degree or another have religious associations or implications...A religious book may or may not have religion in it, but what it does have is a certain openness to Mystery itself, and what it asks of us is also a certain openness, a certain suspension of either belief or disbelief...A religion book is a canvas, a religious book a transparency.  With a religious book it is less what we see in it than what we see through it that matters. ~ Frederick Buechner, "Summons to Pilgrimage," A Room Called Remember


Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. ~ Ingrid Bengis

The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard.  There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word "damn" than in the word "degeneration." ~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Human language is mythological and metaphorical by nature. ~ W.H. Auden, Foreword to History in English Words by Owen Barfield

We are, after all, word partners with God.  He has given us these shining symbols known as "words" and lets us communicate with each other and with Him, which is nothing short of amazing when you consider all the possibilities for not understanding each other. ~ Gladys Hunt

True eloquence consists of saying all that should be, not all the could be, said. ~ LaRochefoucauld

By words the mind is winged. ~ Aristophanes

Words are humanity's greatest natural resource, but most of us have trouble figuring out how to put them together.  Words aren't cheap.  They are very precious.  They are like water, which gives life and growth and refreshment, but because it has always been abundant, we treat it cheaply.  We waste it; we pollute it, and doctor it.  Later we blame the quality of the water because we have misused it. ~ Katharine Paterson

Profound thought is conveyed in language of very great simplicity and purity. ~ Charlotte Mason

The most ordinary words have amazing life in them. ~ Robert P. Tristram Coffin

Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public.  Never clothe them in vulgar or shoddy attire. ~ George W. Crane

Good words are worth much and cost little. ~ George Herbert

It is with words as with sunbeams.  The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. ~ Robert Southey

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11

From change, whether good or bad, benign or cataclysmic, comes growth and development, and one of the chief instruments of change is language, altering and governing perception.  Out of change comes new perception, and hence new language.  Language separates, distinguishes, and divides, breaking down and refining aspects of original undifferentiated reality.  But it is more than a refiner of meaning; it is also preserver and creator.  New concepts, new metaphors, incantatory adjectives, can enhance meaning and so re-create reality. ~ Verlyn Flieger, Splintered Light, Ch 8

Changes in language often reflect the changing values of a culture. ~ Ravi Zacharias

When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object:  it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object.  (A "nice" meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

A new language always reflects a new point of view, and the gradual unconscious popularization of new words, or of old words used in new ways, is a sure sign of a profound change in people's articulation of the world. ~ Allan Bloom

When any significant change takes place in the moral standards of a community, it is immediately reflected in a general shifting of the meanings of common words. ~ Owen Barfield, History in English Words

Words express perception, but by the same token they can alter it. ~ Verlyn Flieger

In our rapid and externalized world, language has become ghostlike, abbreviated to code and label.  Words that would mirror the soul carry the loam of substance and the shadow of the divine.  The sense of silence and darkness behind the words in more ancient cultures, particularly in folk culture, is absent in the modern use of language.  Language is full of acronyms; nowadays we are impatient of words that carry with them histories and associations. ~ John O'Donohue, Anam Cara

Words are windows onto mystery. ~ Malcolm Guite

...words are not only meaning but music and magic and power. ~ Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Of course language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

...a figure of speech can often get into a crack too small for a definition. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

It is probably impossible to think without words, but if we permit ourselves to think with the wrong words, we shall soon be entertaining erroneous thoughts; for words, which are given us for the expression of thought, have a habit of going beyond their proper bounds and determining the content of thought. ~ A.W. Tozer

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. ~ Hart Crane

Words - as I speak or write them - make a path on which I walk. ~ Diane Glancy

The way for a person to develop a (writing) style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that.  The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean.  If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. ~ C.S. Lewis, "Cross-Examination," God in the Dock

One of the major symptoms of the general crisis existent in our world today is our lack of sensitivity to words.  We use words as tools.  We forget that words are a repository of the spirit.  The tragedy of our times is that the vessels of the spirit are broken.  We cannot approach the spirit unless we repair the vessels.  Reverence for words -- an awareness of the wonder of words, of the mystery of words -- is an essential prerequisite for prayer.  By the word of God the world was created. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom

All writers write about themselves, just as the old storytellers chose to tell stories that spoke to and about themselves.  They call it the world, but it is themselves they portray.  The world of which they write is like a mirror that reflects the inside of their hearts, often more truly than they know. ~ Jane Yolen, Touch Magic

If our language is watered down, then mankind becomes less human, and less free... ~ Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

...words are in a way our godly sharing in the work of creation, and the speaking and writing of words is at once the most human and the most holy business we engage in. ~ Frederick Buechner, "The Speaking and Writing of Words," A Room Called Remember

...words are the gateway to reality, the means by which we engage with the objective truth beyond ourselves. ~ Joseph Pearce, Bilbo's Journey 


Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance. ~ M.C. Richards

But the summits of poetry are mysteries; they are shiftingly veiled, and those who catch the glimpses see different aspects of the transcendental; but they have seen something, and they come down with the glory lingering on them. ~ Ruth Pitter

All poetry is putting the infinite within the finite. ~ Robert Browning

A good poem is a contribution to reality.  The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.  A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him. ~ Dylan Thomas

Poems give you the lives of others and then circle in on your own  inner world. ~ Frances Mayes

...the best figurative poetry speaks not to the frivolous intellect, but (if anything does) straight to the heart; and does it better than plain prose.  There seems then to be something which is better said with metaphor than without, which goes straighter to its mark by going crooked, and hits its aim exactly by flying off at tangents. ~ Austin Farrer, "Poetic Truth," Reflective Faith

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. ~ Robert Frost

...the poet, while creating anew, is likely to be in a sense restoring something old. ~ Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations.  When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his experience.  When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.  For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgment. ~ John F. Kennedy

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. ~ Carl Sandburg

Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you.  And all you can do is to go where they can find you. ~ A.A. Milne share poetry is one of the most intimate acts of friendship possible... ~ Madeleine L'Engle