Maggie Shaw’s Book of the Month | November
Posted on - 23rd November 2021
Hi, there. Maggie Shaw here, proud owner of Eregendal and author.
As a lifelong lover of reading, each month I choose one of my favourite books – and tell you all about it.
For November’s Book of the Month I have chosen Anam Cara – Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O’Donohue (1956-2007). This was John’s first published book, combining his rural upbringing in the Burren, Ireland, with his extensive studies in English Literature, Philosophy and Theology, and his vocation as a priest. It became an instant best seller on publication in 1997, and was republished in a Bantam edition in 1999. For more information about the author, visit his website: https://www.johnodonohue.com/ .
Anam Cara is a deeply compassionate book written as a complete antidote to superficial, fast-paced modern living. The book draws on the ancient wisdom of the Celtic Church with its reverence for creation, its respect of the need for silence, and its awareness of the closeness of the spiritual world to the mundane. The author gently guides the reader through the spirituality of key areas of human life: friendship, the senses, solitude, work, ageing, and death. The author’s style of writing is engaging and easy to read. The long chapters are divided into many shorter sections, which help to emphasise the points being made. Quotations from other writers and philosophers, and poems from Celtic authors and others, also illustrate the thoughts being expressed and reflect the gentle rhythm that is at the heart of Celtic spirituality.
A friend lent me a copy of this book while I was doing research for my novel The Eagle and The Raven (2021). Two of the characters are described as Anam Cara or soul friends: one of whom is true and the other false. This book helped me to round out those characters, but then did so much more. Its gentle criticism of the pressures of modern life, and engaging exhortations to listen to the inner spiritual voice and the natural world around us, guided me back to that grounding in the spirituality of place and time which I had been so aware of in my younger days in West Cumbria.
I came away from this book feeling refreshed and cherished as a child of God, able to acknowledge once again my existence as an eternal soul housed in a body made from the clay of the soil. The wisdom expressed in the pages was so inspiring, I bought copies of the book for myself, and for others who I hoped would be blessed and healed through reading it. The author’s gentle, compassionate tone of voice and style of writing will stay with me long after I have put the book down.
So there we have it, November’s Book of the Month! Be sure to check back in December as I’ll be revealing another must read.