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What Marian Library Staff and Faculty Are Reading at Home

As Marian Library staff work to deliver our services remotely, we also find ourselves with more time to read. Sometimes our reading is related to our work; sometimes it’s a break from our work and from the all-consuming anxiety of the present. Find out more about what we’re reading:

Henry Handley, assistant professor and Marian Library collections librarian:

Pia desideria emblematis, Herman Hugo

OK, I’m not exactly reading this book cover to cover — it’s in Latin. It’s an emblem book from 1628, a combination of symbolic pictures and poems explaining them. We have a copy of it in the Marian Library, and it inspired a research project that I started just before the pandemic arrived. I was lucky enough to find a discounted copy of it for my own collection. It was worth the purchase for many reasons, most of them related to my emblem book research — but another is the quarantine mood of Arthur C. Newsum’s bookplate, which features a library window with a view of Lincoln Cathedral. If you’re missing the view from the seventh floor of the Marian Library, it’s a bittersweet substitute.

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Jenn Shapland

Although most physical library books have limited (if any) access right now, you can still use your library card to borrow ebooks. This book is in the Dayton Metro Library’s collection and is about archival research and LGBTQ+ lives in the archives — topics near to my queer special collections and archives heart, especially in the age of social distancing.


Sarah B. Cahalan, director of the Marian Library

The Heavens, Sandra Newman

I picked this book up as a time-travel fantasy read, but it turns out it also has plague and apocalypse subplots, so it's not exactly an escapist romp. It's clever and beautifully written, though, and I especially like the sections that take place in Elizabethan England.

The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells

This is for a book group. It may be more existential crisis than you have bandwidth for right now, but the description of the disruptions of climate change (financial, medical, systemic) is surprisingly relevant to our current state of upheaval.


Michele Devitt, curatorial assistant and volunteer coordinator

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Phaedra Patrick

This is a quick read about a widower who discovers his wife’s charm bracelet and tries to track down the story behind each charm. The adventures required to find the answers take him out of his comfort zone but bring him closer to his two distant children.

Mary’s Flowers, Vincenzina Krymow

I am rereading this book as I continue to plan my Mary Garden. This informative book with lovely meditations and drawings of Marian flowers is a great spring read. It is also a way to begin being outdoors with Mary in mind.


Gloria Falcão Dodd, director of academic programs, International Marian Research Institute

The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations, Anna Katharina (also known as Anne Catherine) Emmerich

As the word of God, the Bible is the most important book for Christians, but its brevity leaves much unsaid. I enjoy reading approved private revelation that has been reviewed by the Church and found to be compatible with scripture and church teaching. Even church approval does not guarantee accuracy because a private revelation is expressed by a human being who could have misunderstood what was seen. I appreciate Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s honesty and self-awareness as she sometimes stated that she was unsure if she was seeing the spiritual meaning rather than how the event happened historically. With these caveats, her visions read better than a novel! During Holy Week and in this Easter season, I appreciate her descriptions of Christ’s Passion, death and resurrection as a wonderful meditation for spiritual growth.


Kayla Harris, Marian Library archivist

The Internet and the Madonna: Religious Visionary Experience on the Web, Paolo Apolito

Not exactly a casual read, but The Internet and the Madonna is one of the few books about the role of Mary on the Internet. It’s especially timely given that many of us are shifting activities from all areas of our lives online, to keep each other safe by staying home.

Frog and Toad Together, Arnold Lobel

I remember reading about Frog and Toad while growing up, but I don’t recall them being as hilarious as they are to me now as an adult. My three young boys love this collection of stories, but this is one book that doesn’t get mysteriously lost after reading it for the 84th time. “A List” rings a little too close to home for me, with Toad resigning himself to do nothing without his written list to guide him, while “Cookies” can be appreciated by nearly all people who are finding themselves in a battle of willpower against baked goods.


Jillian Ewalt, librarian for visual resources

I recently read There, There by Tommy Orange, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Mossfegh and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, all of which I liked enough to mention. But the reality of working from home with a child is such that I haven’t had much time for personal leisure reading. I do, however, have a toddler who loves to be read to. Recently on repeat have been: 

Linnea in Monet’s Garden, Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson

Art history and gardens collide in this gentle and happy classic children’s story. Linnea and her friend Mr. Bloom travel to France and visit the garden of impressionist artist Claude Monet. The book chronicles their visit, and through Linnea’s eyes, the reader gets a glimpse into the history of Monet’s paintings, life and garden. It also has beautiful illustrations.

A Year in Our New Garden, Gerda Muller

Anna and Benjamin move into a new house and, with the help of their parents and community, they explore the changing seasons through the landscape and events of an urban garden. It’s fun to talk to my daughter about themes from this book when we work in our own backyard garden.

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