The first demand any work of art makes upon is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.
– C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism
The early-July refresh of the Resources for Sheltering at Home page brings a series of recommended readings. There are now three reading lists to be found under the “Read” tab. The first compiles books authored by A Rocha staff and friends. The next is a list of recommendations from the A Rocha community of books they’ve found to be good companions in these months (more suggestions always welcome!). Finally, a third list offers titles organized by a few themes centering around ecology and place.
I’m hesitant to wax poetic about books. Frankly, for whatever reason, I’ve found reading to be an unexpected challenge amidst the pandemic. I’m less inclined to pick up a “serious” text, and when I do, I’m able to read about half as long as in the past. Yet, when I’m able to, reading a book feels like a respite from the speed and sharpness of screens. It can be quieter, slower, and more consistent to attend to one author’s words instead of jumping from tab to tab.
Literature can have the capacity to offer some semblance of community, either through a book club or finding an author who seems like a good companion. To give the sort of attention Lewis describes requires a humility that allows us to be formed and moved by another’s work and perspective. This “surrender” can find us comforted, challenged, angered, or awed, but it’s ultimately a hospitable act in which we allow room for something—someone—else. While certainly no cure for loneliness, there’s the possibility of companionable moments.
Find these and more resources at Resources for Sheltering at Home.