Monday, January 7, 2013


For The High Calling book club (led by the amazing Laura Boggess):
Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me
by Karen Swallow Prior
This week we're discussing chapters 1-3. Join us! Christian Blog Network

I remember the first time I read Goodnight Moon. I read it over and over again, excited for each page-turn so I could search for the little white mouse and see the minute hand on the clock advance, little by little.

I remember the first time I read Ramona the Brave and all the other Ramona Quimby stories. I knew exactly how she felt when that mean ol' German Shepherd harrassed her. I knew how she felt and also looked up to her, for she was braver than I. I would have had neither courage nor creativity enough to defend myself by throwing one of my shoes at the growling menace.

I remember, too, the first time I read Charlotte's Web. When I read these children's books for the first time, I was not a child. I was a mother in my late twenties and early thirties, taking one son, then two, then three, to the weekly storytimes at the Rockrimmon library branch. There I discovered, and became enamored with, childre's fiction. I probably would never have read much children's literature if I had not had children of my own.

Unlike Karen Swallow Prior's, my childhood included no Grandma and Grandpa On-the-Farm; no love for or even exposure to animals; no experiences, really, outside the concrete of the L.A. suburb that was my stomping grounds. Yet if I were to write my own Booked, Wilbur and Charlotte would get a chapter all to themselves too. I think it's because they were friends. And because I have always, always wanted a friend like Charlotte.

As she weaves words about Wilbur into her web, Wilbur tries to live up to the meaning of the words. . . . Like the old riddle of the chicken and the egg, the power of giving something its proper name, in turn, empowers it to become the name it is called.

- Prior, p.42

I recognized the great power in Charlotte's words when she called her friend Wilbur "terrific."

Wilbur blushed. "But I'm not terrific, Charlotte. I'm just about average for a pig."

"You're terrific as far as I'm concerned," replied Charlotte, sweetly, "and that's what counts. You're my best friend, and I think you're sensational."

- from Charlotte's Web, p.91

It's the power of encouragement and the wonder of generous love. Years after I read that for the first time, a friend told me, "Monica, I think you're terrific!" And the effect of those words coming over the phone was just as powerful as when I read page 91 of Charlotte's Web. Even more powerful, because the "terrific" was not meant for a fictional pig. It was meant for me.


  1. Monica, this post gave me goose bumps :). They are friends, aren't they? I think that's one reason I'm enjoying Karen's book so much--whenever she mentions a book I have loved, it's like seeing an old friend. Lovely sentiment here, friend. I get this.

  2. I love this! So beautiful. (visiting here via Laura Boggess)

  3. What a wonderful post! And the cleverness of the title just tickles me completely. ;)


  4. Karen's book is next on my list. "Charlotte's Web" will never go off my list. I truly think it's one of the best books ever.

  5. oh gosh, I love that naming quote. So of course I had to put it in wordcandy :)

    enjoyed this glimpse into your experience of the first section of the book!

  6. Yes, Charlotte's Web meant that much to me too. I was that stupid little pig in a way.

    I really enjoyed this book. I havent read all of the books Karen wrote about, but I was caught up in journey of literature. I have my own list of books -- those volumes that spoke to me in my own journey. The book wholly true to her faith, without being dishonest to her heart.

  7. I loved discovering Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss with my kids. I've never read Charlotte's Web, but I've seen the movie several times. I grew up with Little House and Nancy Drew and Little Women and Cherry Ames and Gone with the Wind and some story about a Navy nurse. Oh, and The Nun's Story. I need to track that one down.

    And I think you're terrific!


Encouragements, questions, insights...?