Reading slim books is akin to enjoying a very dense, very rich, very chocolate flourless torte. One does not stab a fork into the slice of dessert and then cram it down one’s throat in a furious eating frenzy yelling, “FINISHED!” like a maniacal competitor.
No, one savors every tiny bite of sumptuous cake and decadent ganache.
Likewise, slim books should not be inhaled, masticated, digested and barbarically regurgitated. Generally comprised of essays, not chapters, slim books should only be read deliberately, a bit at a time. Each essay is a conversation with an author who took the time to sit down and write out their thoughts on a blog post before blogs were invented — before the internet was invented.
Luxuriating over the ruminations of a fellow contemplative gives us time to sit, wonder, identify, deliberate, and enjoy.
A few of my favorite slim books:
Perseus in the Wind by Freya Stark (1893 – 1993)
Published in 1948, Stark’s timeless reflections on topics range from Happiness, Beauty, and Death to Love, Sorrow, and Courage. Although Dame Stark traveled and wrote extensively about her adventures in the Middle East, this book takes an interior view. Stark understands both the loneliness of a solitary traveler and the fellowship looking at those things common to us all.
Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906 – 2001)
My mother gave me this book years ago. Pilot, author, wife, and mother of five, Lindbergh knew the beauty and value of time spent for oneself. She wrote this book appertaining sea elements to rest, peace, and quiet. I have only been to the sea a handful of times in my life, but Lindbergh’s gentle admonitions of quiet and beauty’s necessity in a harried, exhausted world restore a land-locked soul.
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964)
Written from 1946 through 1947, the edition I read contains a both a typeset version of her prayer journal and a facsimile of her handwritten journal. Reading O’Connor’s prayers in her own hand closes the gulf of time so that she sits next to me and we visit about the insecurities all writers must have. Her prayers, simultaneously intimate and catholic, reverberate with deep, full questions and petitions.
The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich (1946 – Present)
An early collection of journal entries, Ehrlich aptly describes western life in the Wyoming high desert. High desert life is neither Rocky Mountain Front living, nor Midwest prairie life, but settles geographically and practically between both. She moved out West to give her broken heart space to heal. In the beauty, desolation, hard work, and comedy, she does just that.
The weekend is nearly upon us, my friends. Pick up your slim book and a cup of coffee… and enjoy a conversation.