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A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1)

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,073 Ratings  ·  361 Reviews
This journal shares fruitful reflections on life and career prompted by the author's visit to her personal place of retreat near her country home.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published January 1st 1984 by HarperOne (first published 1971)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Stand by Stephen KingThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Shining by Stephen King
Best Books of the Decade: 1970's
321st out of 950 books — 1,007 voters
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The Best Spiritual Autobiographies
24th out of 82 books — 103 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bronwen Newcott
Aug 20, 2007 Bronwen Newcott rated it it was amazing
oh was I surprised by how much I adored this book, how much it launched my spirits, my curiosity, my desire to write and to immerse myself in art. Not a book to breeze through, but one to digest. L'Engle wrote this journal in 1972; I wondered whether some of her concerns and observations about culture would be dated -- hardly. She cuts through so many assumptions we carry, challenges them honestly. I hope one day I can face the world with such grounded certainty, such room for mystery, such a la ...more
Rebecca Foster
I picked this up on a whim – for a quarter – from a library book sale, and I’m so glad I did. If, like me, you only knew L’Engle through her Wrinkle in Time children’s series, this journal should come as a revelation. I didn’t know she wrote any nonfiction for adults. The Crosswicks books cannot be called simple memoirs, however; there’s so much more going on. In this journal (published 1972) of a summer spent at their Connecticut farmhouse, L’Engle muses on theology, purpose, children’s educati ...more
Jan 29, 2008 April-lyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, memoir
I've grown up reading Madeline L'Engle's writing. I don't remember exactly when I first read A Wrinkle in Time, but I think it's safe to say I was in elementry school, both exhilarated by life and by learning, and uncertain of where I fit into anything, especially with my peers. I'm just now realizing that for most of my life until the past few years, I've felt like my existence in this world was somewhat of a mistake.

I've turned to Wrinkle and the other books in the Time Quartet over the years
Oct 18, 2008 Michaela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, favorites
I read this after visiting a great friend who gave me a copy, and fell in love. I loved that she is a writer and a "normal" person at the same time. The unashamed honest humanity of it. And the beautiful musings on being, and being happy. The passion for ontology. Good for anyone trying to feel peaceful or normal or just wanting to share in someone else's life for a while.
Apr 14, 2012 rivka rated it really liked it
Originally published in 1972, this meandering journal has sections that are definitely dated, even obsolete. And like much of Madeleine's work, especially her non-fiction, it is overly mystical and in-your-face Christian for my tastes. (She doesn't even get the number of days of Chanukah right!)

Nonetheless, it is a lovely, sweet read, about parenthood and marriage and communities both large and small. About our responsibilities to those who came before and to those who come after. About the repe
Jennifer King
Dec 15, 2012 Jennifer King rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book so much, I read it in small pieces so I could savor it. A Circle of Quiet is one of my favorite books of the year, maybe even of my lifetime. Ms. L'Engle's voice speaks so assuredly, winding bits and thoughts that seem somehow unrelated into a profound yet simple point over and over again. I especially love her shared experiences about her writing career, her family life, her quiet solitude, and her faith. A beautiful, much-treasured book.
Marina Sofia
Sep 12, 2013 Marina Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kind of book that I will never consider fully read, as it will be constantly re-read. A book to dip into and quote when things get tough. A book to inspire and guide, whether you agree or disagree with all that she says. A book all women writers, especially mothers, need to read.
Sep 18, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it
Although I've heard of L'Engle, I don't recall ever reading any of her books, even the more famous Wrinkle in Time. I got this book on a whim and now it's one I won't part with.

Circle is book one of the Crosswicks Journals. I had, wrongly, assumed this was fiction but found that this series of books are pulled from L'Engle's personal journals. Judging from the journals alone, what a fascinating, intelligent, and insightful woman! I ended up writing in this book quite a bit and have already went
Jan 11, 2016 Meagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law. It was a great choice for me :) While I am a huge fan of A Wrinkle in Time, I have never read any of this Crosswicks series until now. I'm glad to have started and definitely want to read more.

This book is basically a memoir describing Madeleine L'Engle's life as a writer, mother, wife, and teacher. It delves a fair amount into theology (or something like it) as well as her reflections on love, motherhood, creativity, society, culture,
Zen Cho
Jul 14, 2007 Zen Cho rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
This book is about teaching children, writing, family and community, the modern world, love, religion and some other things. I don't agree with L'Engle on lots of things, but I agree with her on lots of other things, and I came away from the book feeling refreshed, revived.

Other favourite books on living I'd tag as self-help:
The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (a book about writing is basically a book about living)
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran -- this
Aug 22, 2010 James rated it it was amazing
I just read this book again and it is still at the top of my list of favorite books. I needed this little jolt to jump start my reading again. I have not been reading as much lately and needed something to change that and this book did that for me. I guess I just needed a refill of greatness to fill my tank and get me back on the right track.

I really wish I knew something flowery and wonderful to say about this book. I cannot. All I can say is Maldeleine L'Enlgle just has a way of touching my he
Aug 05, 2012 ladydusk rated it it was amazing
Library. Want to own.

Another memoir for the year. Based at least partially on her journals and the writing of A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle writes about her own journey to faith, ontology, time, love, writing, and joy. She writes with such beauty and honesty about her life during this period: her life as a person and what that means.

I can't wait to read Summer of the Great-Grandmother.

Commonplace entries here.
Jul 11, 2007 Nefret rated it it was amazing
L'Engle is currently one of my favorite authors, and this book pretty much sums her up. A Circle of Quiet is a book about ontology, the study of the world from a bigger perspective in a bigger sphere ( as defined by me, not Webster.) Enough said, I suppose. This book came at the most perfect time for me, and I definitely was deeply impacted by her journal-like writing that takes the reader through L'Engle's mind as she shares her insights and thoughts.
Feb 16, 2014 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the second work of nonfiction that I've read by L'Engle, and her nonfiction confirms her as one of my favorite authors. I love her style, her sense of humor, and the way in which she expresses her beliefs, simply yet profoundly and beautifully.
I read this book aloud with my dad, and we both loved it. We got into some good discussions about life, society, and God while reading it together. It's the first book that I've read completely with him. Usually, I just read to him whatever I happe
Feb 21, 2016 Elisabeth rated it liked it
Recommended to Elisabeth by: Maribeth Barber
A Circle of Quiet is a rambling quasi-memoir on various aspects of life in general, but with a significant amount of musings on writing and artistic life. The latter was the element that I enjoyed the most. The broader philosophies that L'Engle wades into I didn't find quite as satisfying, probably because the brand of "faith" that she describes doesn't seem solid enough to base a clear worldview on. L'Engle identifies as both Anglican and agnostic, but while she affirms belief in a loving God a ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Andy rated it it was ok
This first installment in the "Crosswicks Journal" series by Madeleine L'Engle was difficult to read and is difficult to review. At times it seems a scattered mess of emotional outbursts, and at times it seems like the wisdom of a beloved grandmother being whispered in your ear.

The book does not fit well in any genre. There are passages of reflection, but it is not a memoir. There are large sections about writing (even a lesson on punctuation) but it is not a book about writing, style or grammar
Laura Lee
When I was in my 20s I loved to read writers journals. I kept a journal myself and the introspective observations often sounded like my own writing. It made me feel as though contemplating my navel was important and that maybe my own journal would be a book some day. A decade later I started to hate them for pretty much the same reason. They usually sounded a lot like my own journal. Why did this person get to publish a journal without turning it into something else, a memoir, a novel, a collect ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-me
i think i may be destined to seek wisdom through madeleine l'engle's books my entire life. for me, reading anything she's written, whether it's fantasy, coming-of-age novels, or her memoirs, makes me feel incredibly comforted. her work is my literary equivalent of being wrapped in a blanket and given a cup of tea. her insights into every topic that she explores blow me away. she's decidedly not an intellectual, and yet is so damn smart, thoughtful and articulate. this book for me expressed so we ...more
August Niehaus
Mar 31, 2011 August Niehaus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ahh, Madeleine. A staple of my childhood, with her Time Quartet (I didn't know about "An Acceptable Time" back then). She appealed to me for all the reasons a good author should: her characters were real and disagreeable yet worthy of admiration, in the end; her plots were full of mystery and adventure, but easy enough to follow; and she understands time. She speaks, in the last chapters of "A Circle of Quiet," about chronos and kairos, and it was her ability to express kairos without turning it ...more
Dec 09, 2011 Heidi rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
It took me a really long time to get into this book. It is an autobiography of sorts; the thoughts and phliosophies of the author of A Wrinkle in Time, which was honestly not one of my favorites. When I thought I had finally found a chapter I enjoyed reading, the next chapter explains how the previous chapter was a sketch she had written and it didn't really happen. Grr... However, I did finally find the flow of the thoughts and I actually agreed with a lot of what she says. She wrote this in 19 ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
If you are a writer, a married woman or a parent, or are on the road to being one, you'll want to read this book for it give a person permission to regain one's composure by getting away from the dailies. She writes, "Every so often I need OUT; something will throw me into toal disproportion, and I have to get away from everybody — away from all these people I love most in the world &mdash in order to regain a sense of proportion."

This describes me when I, too, was in the "tired thirties." N
Jan 25, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
I know I will be reading this book again. So thought provoking, beautifully and simply written but with profound thoughts. L'Engle writes with such humble confidence.
Nov 06, 2014 Marie rated it liked it
An unusual memoir, all out of chronology, really a series of essays on personal philosophy and opinion, illustrated with vignettes from the author's life. It was most enjoyable when she discussed writing and the writing process, least enjoyable when she discussed religion.

... unironically quoting avowed atheist Einstein to hold up against the attitude of "atheists who take all the wonder out of the world."

And if she said one more time "Computers can't show compassion!" or other such "feeling ov
Sep 30, 2014 Vicki rated it really liked it
Madeline L'Engle, the beloved author of such classics as A Wrinkle In Time, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, has also penned edited versions of her personal journals. She has taken her journals, sifted through for relevant themes and experiences at that particular time in her life, and has woven stories and events with recurring characters and created a book with an actual beginning, middle and an end.

She calls this set of books The Crosswick Journals, named after their country home in the northeas
Jul 17, 2009 Olivia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone and Anyone, but especially women, and especially those who love to read and hope to write.
Recommended to Olivia by: The return shelf at the BYU library.
If I could, I would give this book a four and a half. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it whenever I got a chance: in between classes, while walking home, even early in the morning (which is going out of the way for me, I assure you). I'm not quite sure how to categorize this book. It's like a letter from a highly-literary friend perhaps: anecdotal and personal. This book is delightful, easy to relate to, insightful, and fun. I must be on a non-fiction kick lately, but I loved it!
Cindi P.
Feels like an engaging conversation with a wise and real person. Authentic voice. Especially appreciated all the insights into the mysterious and practical process of writing/life of a writer, as I'm a struggling writer. Touching stories from life in a small town, a family, global experiences, and a wrestling with meaningful faith are woven throughout. Moments of interaction with L'Engle's other book, Wrinkle in Time, which I loved, are sprinkled in as well.
Jan 06, 2009 Allison rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dianna, missy
Shelves: spirituality
L'Engle blows me away with this invitation into the mind and life of one of my favorite authors. L'Engle intrigues me on so many levels, as a woman, an artist and as a Christian. She is also an amazing thinker and philosopher which was surprising at first, someone I would have loved to have a chat with about nothing, which would have turned into everything. This is full of gems to make you think, and makes a great author of my childhood human.

“Ontology: the word about the essence of things; the word about being.”

“two people whose opinion I respect told me that the word "Christian" would turn people off. This certainly says something about the state of Christianity today. I wouldn't mind if to be a Christian were accepted as being the dangerous thing which it is; I wouldn't mind if, when a group of Christians meet for bread and wine, we might well be interrupted and jailed for subversive activities; I wouldn't mind if, once aga
Jan magdalene
Apr 11, 2016 Jan magdalene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"A Circle Of Quiet" is basically an excuse for madeleine l'engle, a beautiful writer and conservative christian with a mild mystical bent, to go on a 250 page incoherent rant about whatever she felt like talking about in 1973. The result is perhaps predictable: the text flows smoothly and is a quick, enjoyable read. The content however, scattered with biggotry, homophobia, mild racism and the kind of generalizations and statements that are perhaps expected of older, confident, successful evangel ...more
Dec 14, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
We have many lives in this one life. Sometimes those lives overlap, sometimes they are so far apart it feels like you are being torn into a thousand directions.

If we are lucky, we learn to make a place that helps us reconnect to who we are, who we wish to become. This is a first-hand account of a reflective life seen through the lens of nature.
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Trinity Episcopal...: A Circle of Quiet (discussion) 1 7 Jul 01, 2013 01:20PM  
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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener ...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle...

Other Books in the Series

Crosswicks Journals (4 books)
  • The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal, #2)
  • The Irrational Season (Crosswicks Journals, #3)
  • Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage (The Crosswicks Journal, #4)

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“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.” 1866 likes
“I'm apt to get drunk on words...Ontology: the word about the essence of things; the word about being.” 121 likes
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