I’ve been meaning to do an individual post for each of these books, but today’s Quick Takes is just the thing for getting my thoughts started. Be sure to visit Jen at Conversion Diary for the full round-up of this week’s Quick Takes.

1: Hear My Voice: A Children’s Translation of Gospel Readings of the Catholic Mass for 2009, by Jonathan Stampf
When this arrived, I had to smile. You see, I must be meant to have it. I’ve read other reviews of it, and I briefly considered it in my choices from The Catholic Company Reviewer Program. But, in the end, I decided on something else.

But this is what arrived, this lovely hardback book with a ribbon for marking your place. (I am such a fan of ribbons in books. It is so wonderfully bookish.)

One of my reasons for hesitating on this book was that I wasn’t sure my four-year-old would like it. She loves to be read to, mind you, but reading the entire Gospel and then a children’s translation, with no page turning? I was doubtful.

She, however, was all for it. When she found out this new book was for her, she jumped up and down, asked if we could read it right then, and not only sat through the readings, but discussed it throughout the next few hours. Unfortunately, I have forgotten, for two of the four weeks since it’s arrived, to read it to her.

The weeks we’ve done it, though, there’s been an unexpected (to me) side effect: it has helped my understanding and appreciation for the Gospel and Mass that weekend. My goal this month is to read the coming week’s Gospel to her a couple of times and then talk about it before and after Mass. (We’ll see. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, now that I look at it all typed out.)

2: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St. Louis de Montfort
John Paul II said that reading True Devotion was a pivotal point in his life. I can understand why. I don’t know what’s kept me from picking up this slender little gem, aside from my false assurance that it would be difficult reading and hold me to an impossible goal. I not only found it fairly easy to read, but I could feel myself deepening somehow. I picked it up almost accidentally (or was that the Holy Spirit at work?), but I know I’ll go back to it time and again, and I’m excited to do the Consecration (though also trepidious about my ability to fail completely).

3: Rosary Meditations for Real Life, by James M. Hahn
By far, this is one of the best devotional books I have ever read. I’ve been a big fan of Jim Hahn’s blog and I’ve read the reflections he has posted on his website, so I thought I knew what to expect in this book.

I was wrong.

It helped me focus on the rosary and praying the mysteries in a fresh and transformed way. I’ll be giving this book to everyone I know and encouraging everyone else to buy it. And you know what? Even if you’re not Catholic, and you think the rosary is silly, you could gain a lot by reading the reflections on the mysteries, which are important points in Jesus’ life.

4: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Julie has written about Uncle Tom’s Cabin again and again (scroll down for some great posts), and I found a copy for five bucks the last time we were at Half Price Books, because it looked like a book I did, in fact, need to read. It’s been sitting on my shelf, and it made the cut when I slashed my to-read bookcase down to a shelf, so I knew I’d get to it this year. I just didn’t know it would be this soon…as it turns out, Julie is narrating it at Forgotten Classics. The joy! I’m caught up with her, to chapter 5, and it is, in fact, a book I need to read. Harrowing. Hilarious. Powerful.

5: Divine Mercy in My Soul: the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska
I started this book two years ago. I found it difficult reading then, but I enjoyed it, and I put it down for a while. Then I picked it back up last year at Lent. Again I found it difficult reading, though it moved me interiorly and inspired me, after Lent, I put it down. When I was looking for devotional reading earlier this month, there it was, smiling at me from my desk. Though I’m finding it difficult reading, I’m also finding it (as I did both other times) amazing. It is just what I need right now.

6: Black Belt Leader, Peaceful Leader: An Introduction to Catholic Servant Leadership, by Timothy Warneka
Leadership sort of makes me roll my eyes. But from the small amount I’ve read in this book, and from what he had to say in a recent interview about this book, I’m intrigued and hooked. There will be more about this, I’m sure.

7: Michael Dubriel’s books
Earlier this week, Lisa Hendey encouraged everyone to buy a copy of Michael Dubriel’s How To Book of the Mass, and I did; it should arrive today with my friendly UPS man. The royalties go to his children’s college fund. I might buy one or more of his other books; this month Our Sunday Visitor is doubling royalties from the sale of his books. I regret that it took the tragedy of his sudden death to bring him to my attention. I’ve been praying all week for the family, and reflecting on what an impact a death has. I never met Dubriel, never read his books. And yet, here I am, immensely touched by the outpouring I see all around the Catholic blogosphere and excited about reading his books. More on this in the future too, without a doubt.