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The Dorothy Day Reading List Challenge - Part 5

Allyson Kenny

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The following are specific books Servant of God Dorothy Day mentions having read in her diary entries from the 1970s. This summer, I challenge you to read at least three books – one per month in June, July, and August – that formed this remarkable “saint of the poor” in modern times. For each decade of her life, we’re posting a blog with a new list of titles.
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
All page references are from The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, edited by Robert Ellsberg (2008: Image Books).

1. The Feast of Fools: A Theological Essay on Feast and Fantasy (1969) – Harvey Cox. “Good to read as spring is breaking” (p. 499).

2. Sal si Puedes (1969) – Peter Matthiessen. “A truly beautiful and inspiring book about Cesar Chavez” (p. 511).

3. Letters to His Family (1969) - Pope John XXIII. “A great comfort. A strong spiritual comfort” (p. 531).

4. Peasants (1897) - Anton Chekhov

5. The Two-Edged Sword (1956) – Fr. John L. McKenzie, SJ

6. Souls on Fire (1972) – Elie Wiesel

7. The Woman Who Was Poor (1897) – Leon Bloy

8. The Story of a Humble Christian (1971) – Ignazio Silone. “One of my favourite authors” (p. 547).

9. Bread and Wine (1936) – Ignazio Silone

10. "The Pious Man" – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. It's unclear exactly which work of Heschel’s Day is referring to in this reference, though it is likely the 1942 essay "An Analysis of Piety".

11. Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) – Viktor Frankl

12. Letters of Anton Chekhov (1973) – Anton Chekhov, edited and translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky with Bernhard Gilbert Guerney and Lynn Solotaroff

13. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) – James Joyce

14. The Portable Chekhov (1966) – Anton Chekhov, edited and translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky.

15. The Once and Future King (1958) – T.H. White. “Cure for despondency, according to T.B. [sic] White in Once and Future King – to learn something new (about birds or fish, in this case)” (p. 573).

16. China Diary: After Mao (1973) – Charlotte Salisbury

17. The Practice of the Presence of God (1692) – Brother Lawrence

18. The Canterbury Tales (1476) – Geoffrey Chaucer

19. Walls and Bars: Prison and Prison Life in the “Land of the Free” (1927) - Eugene V. Debs

20. Prayer Is a Hunger (1972) – Edward J. Farrell

21. Autobiography (1936) – G.K. Chesterton. Day often refers to Chesterton throughout her diary, but this is the only specific reference to one of his works.

22. Reflections on the Psalms (1958) – C.S. Lewis

23. Beyond Personality (1944)C.S. Lewis. “I get new insights into my own life always when I read him” (p. 585).

24. Fragments of the Century (1973) – Mike Harrington. “Very good. His analysis of giving up the faith preposterous. Otherwise a good book. What is he trying to say? He credits it to Pope John [XXIII]” (p. 605).

25. My Name Is Asher Lev (1972) – Chaim Potok

26. Martin Eden (1909) – Jack London. Day says this is London’s “masterpiece” along with his “gold rush in Alaska” stories (p. 607).

27. The Chosen (1967) – Chaim Potok

28. The Promise (1969) – Chaim Potok

29. In The Beginning (1975) – Chaim Potok

30. Doctor Zhivago (1957) – Boris Pasternak

31. The Island (1893) - Anton Chekhov

32. In the First Circle (1968) – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

33. Personal History (1935) – Vincent Sheean. “One third of book is ‘Revolution’ about Rayna Prohme, my dearest friend in college, when I was working my way and got ill from overwork and she shared her room with me and food” (p. 633).

34. A Harsh and Dreadful Love (1973) – William Miller

35. Final Payments (1978) - Mary Gordon

36. So Short a Time (1973) – Barbara Gelb

37. The Golden Notebook (1962) – Doris Lessing

38. Night (1956) – Elie Wiesel

39. The Sign of Jonas (1953) – Thomas Merton

40. Heart of Darkness (1899) – Joseph Conrad

41. Several times, Day mentions the Jesus Prayer having been made famous through Salinger’s book Franny & Zooey (1961).

42. The Wide, Wide World (1850) - Elizabeth Wetherell (Susan Warner)

43. Queechy (1852) - Susan Warner. Day cites this and The Wide, Wide World as being her two favourite childhood books.

44. The Elsie Dinsmore Series (1867) – Martha Finley. Day read the first book in this series “in 4th grade at 37th street in Chicago. I liked the religiosity of it, began to read Scripture and pray before climbing into bed with my sister Della who complained of my cold feet” (p. 661). Now in her twilight years, Day was brought a copy by one of her fellow Catholic Workers so she could read it once more.

45. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) – Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

46. Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899) – Peter Kropotkin

47. All the King’s Men (1946) – Robert Penn Warren

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