So much of life, particularly today, constitutes an unconscious conspiracy against reading. Lack of time, the pressure of our jobs and electronic technology, among other things, are more and more putting books out of reach and out of mind. There is never enough time to read. The upside of this is that when I do find time to pick up a book this becomes a precious, cherished time. And so I try to pick books that I read carefully. I read reviews, listen to colleagues and keep track of my favourite authors. I also try to make sure that my reading diet, each year, includes some spiritual books (including at least one historical classic), some biographies, some novels and some essays.

Among the books that I read this year, these are the ones that touched me. I cannot promise that they will touch you, but each of them left me with something.

Among books in spirituality:

✣ Gil Bailie, God’s Gamble: the Gravitational Power of Crucified Love. Bailie again takes up René Girard’s anthropology to shed some new light on how the Cross of Christ is the most monumental moral and religious event in history. The text is very dense and (truthfully) a tough read, but its insights are exceptional.

✣ Heather King, Shirt of Flame: a Year with St Thérèse of Lisieux. This book will make for a very good, private retreat for anyone struggling with an addiction or obsession, or just with mediocrity in his or her spiritual life.

✣ Christophe Lebreton, Born From the Gaze of God: the Tibhirine Journal of Martyr Monk, 1993-1996. This is the diary of one of the Trappist monks who was martyred in Algeria in 1996. It is the intimate journal of a young man which chronicles how he moves from paralysing fear to the strength for martyrdom.

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