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Walking a Literary Labyrinth

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Who of us doesn’t have a list of books that changed our life? Reflecting on her own reading life, Nancy Malone examines the influence of reading in how we define ourselves. Throughout, she likens the experience of reading to walking a labyrinth, itself a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life. The paths within the labyrinth are not straight, but winding, and in th ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 23rd 2003 by Riverhead Hardcover
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Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mark by: Steve Kendall
Unusually for me, since joining GR, I have not leapt to write a review of this lovely book and that is for three reasons. Firstly, i have been busy about other stuff, secondly, and more significantly, Steve Kendall has already written a masterful review (of course) so mine feels rather superfluous and then thirdly, I am not quite sure what to say.

Normally when I am a bit stuck I just begin to type and then it comes and i can hack it to death before putting it up onto the site but that doesn't fe
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a peaceful read book. Reading two or three chapters a day, it was still a quick and easy read. And as positive and well appreciated and enjoyed. Nancy Malone through her own reading path and history over the years rather equates her reading examples to a meditation and prayer cognition. I've always thought that the best states of being lost and embedded within the written word ARE quite similar.

I'm not sure that this Sister is accurate about ALL reading in general for others equating in
Adenike Adebiyi
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's hard to know how to rate this book. It's sort of a personal essay on reading. Is it a good essay? Yes. The book has a religious bent to it. So, those who are not interested in God might find the book tiresome. The book is also a compendium—it's difficult to remember too much at the end of the book or to read the book in one gulp. Has the author persuaded me to want to read more? Yes. Has the author persuaded me that reading is a spiritual act? I don't know. But I'll try to read future books ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Think, for instance, if the novels that spoke to you when you were eighteen, that you regard as superficial or exaggerated now. Or think of revisiting one of the classics, only to discover a different, deeper book than the one you read decades ago. It’s not the books that have changed. It’s you yourself.” – p. 2

“In good fiction I can observe the characters asking – or failing to ask, or wrongly answering – the questions that make us authentic human beings, true selves, the questions that are th
Arlene Allen
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
I don't often read books in one sitting, but I stayed up until after 2 am to finish this one. It spoke to me on so many levels.

First, she shares my love of fiction and my apprecition of the form as a valid way to experience the world. Interestingly enough, my husband took an English class a few months ago, and the first essay he had to review was about how reading a book is like a conversation. In that author's opinion, only academic non-fiction was worthy of even being considered a book. I foun
Sherry (sethurner)
"Has it ever occurred to you that the acts of reading and meditation resemble each other in many ways?"

This was one of those books that I did not have on a list to read, but rather discovered shelved next to another title for which I went searching. Sometimes the paths we take to find books are circuitous. The author is an Ursuline nun, though that shouldn't prevent non-Catholic readers from enjoying her commentary about how reading has had an important role in shaping her personality and under
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved her perspective on spirituality and reading. Some of my favorite quotes from the book: "we must never be afraid to go to far, for truth lies beyond". ( Marcel Proust)(133)

"No single book can satisfy us, either-- but many books to accompany us like intimate friends at each stage of the journey, to lead us yet closer to the truth that, as long as we live, lies beyond."(137)

"We choose what we see and how to see it." (163)

"But as Wayne Booth persuasively argues in The Company We Keep, 'spendin
Mary Helene
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"She must be quite a character," my husband commented and that is probably true, but while Nancy Malone's gentle reflection on the act of reading is personal, she does not dominate the pages. Here is a voice carefully paying attention to how and why we read and what happens to us when we do. It is not abstract, but tangible; her story is that of Catholics coming of age in the last 50 years. I find myself saying, "Ah, yes, this is how reading illumines my life." She advocates reading for the shee ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part book about the spirituality of reading. The author is a Catholic nun, and I enjoyed reading about her story and the part that books have played in it. I also appreciated her thoughts on the role reading can play in our spirituality.

The only problem that I had with this book is that I ended up adding so many of the books she talks about to my TBR shelf - like I need more books to read!
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is written by a Catholic nun as she makes the case for how we learn about ourselves from reading books, she illustrates this with examples for her own life -- both the high moments and the low. I have re-read the prologue multiple times to more fully capture was she is saying. I found her message very powerful. I may try to read some selected books from her recommended reading list at the end.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who spends a lot of time in thoughtful reading.
One of my favorite concepts from the book is that we all have our role in life and, for some of us, that role is to be readers and writers. I loved that! I often wonder what I have to show for a lifetime of reading and I still don't know,but now I feel that it has been the right use of my time and perhaps, someday, I will know why.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: MartiP
A wonderful book, which leads to a bit of introspection as well. I have been remiss in writing about it, I now realize, because I received it back today from a friend to whom I has given it on loan. She, too, thoroughly enjoyed it, though I think the Catholic tie in may have enchanted her more. What with literary nuns and all....that's always a comfort for a cradle Catholic.
Debbie Hoskins
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: intelligent
This is written by a nun. There is a lot of memoir writing. It is funny. She writes brilliantly on sex in books.
Miramira Endevall
Apr 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: my mother
Recommended to Miramira by: Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sabbatical-tbr
Acknowledging the way a good book can literally change how a person thinks, Ursuline nun Nancy M. Malone meditates on the spiritual possibilities inspired by the act of reading. Recounting her own turbulent life as a reader and nun, Malone encourages readers to see reading as a reflective, meditative, and spiritual activity. Malone's bracing and honest acknowledgment of her own struggles--including addiction and depression--provide the meat of this book, but just when the writing borders on pure ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a pleasant, companionable sort of book, though I got stuck for awhile toward the end. My favourite parts were all the memoir-ish stories about the author's early years as an Ursuline nun and the slow unfolding of her own reading life. In her retirement years, she received permission to live independently, so she moved to a little house in City Island in the Bronx, where she spends her days reading, writing, and swimming in the Long Island Sound. I loved her closing reflections about the ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it liked it
This book treats reading as a spiritual practice--which I have always felt it to be. The author compares reading to meditation, in the sense that the reader becomes still and focused enough to move inward. She is a Catholic nun so Catholicism certainly came into play throughout, which irked me a bit because of my biases, and because she claimed it was a book written for people of all spiritual backgrounds, or none at all, but most of the references were Christian. However, she is quite liberal a ...more
May 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In the same vein of "You are what you eat", I think that "You are what you READ", and your literary experiences shape your thinking.
I have made notes of all the books the author has read, and started to read (or re-read) some myself.
Katharine Holden
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book seemed to me to be more like something one would write for a class or for personal exploration rather than a book to be published. When I finished the book, my first thought was "What was the point?" To me, it seemed a vanity press production.
Katherine Pershey
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I didn't read the last couple chapters of this disappointing book. There were a few bits that were good, but the author seemed too intent on making it a memoir. But instead of using her life experience to illuminate a "spirituality of reading" for others, it ended up just being about her.
Dave Schumacher
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I agree with another reviewer who commented that it had a few parts that were good, but that the author seemed too intent on making it a memoir
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
A reading memoir from a reader geek nun. Yes, nun! She of course includes spiritual writing, but her characterizations of classics, poetry and Sue Grafton kept my interest.
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Very impactful book.
Amy Young
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
A key premise is that all reading has the potential to be "spiritual" regardless of the label put on it (i.e. mystery, fiction, history) and that fiction can enhance us as much as non fiction.
Mar 26, 2010 added it
Walking a Literary Labyrinth by Nancy M. Malone (2004)
Labyrinths fascinate me so this appealed immediately -- and I wasn't disappointed. Books, books and more on the topic. The labyrinth is an apt description.
Michelle Schwantes
rated it it was amazing
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“You do what you were made to do. Some of us were made to read and write. Thanks be to God.” 59 likes
“I often look around in a church at the utterly expressionless faces singing "Alleluia! Alleluia!" and wonder why we don't let our faces know what our lips are saying.” 3 likes
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