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And Then There Were Nuns
And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a cloistered life | Jane Christmas
36 posts | 15 read | 23 to read
When Colin asks Jane to marry him she joyfully accepts but then asks him if he would mind waiting for a few months, maybe a year and a half, as she has always wondered if God was calling her to be a nun. Over the course of 18 months, in 2011-2012, she tests out this vocation in a series of religious houses, and we follow her journey and her wonderings. The religious houses she spends time in are based initially in Canada, but then on the Isle of Wight and finally North Yorkshire, and she meets a range of well-realised characters en route, finding both godliness and narrow minded prejudice and inhumanity in all places. What is God calling her to do? Superbly written, very funny, very evocative and very feisty.
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Aimeesue
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Pickpick

Listened to this one for #nunlitqquarterly and enjoyed it very much. The audio was excellent, and not ever having been a member of a church that had nuns, I found it very interesting, the modern practices of an ancient tradition. I liked the author‘s questions, because honestly, I‘d have had the same ones.
#nunlit

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quietjenn
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Mehso-so

Finished the July #nunlitquarterly yesterday, just slightly behind schedule. I don't think this quite worked for me as much as it did for many others. There were definitely bits I found interesting, but I just didn't vibe with Jane Christmas herself.

#nunlit

JamieArc I‘m in the middle of this and feel the same way. 10mo
jlhammar Thanks for reading with us! Completely understandable. Great to get different reactions to the book. 10mo
Suet624 Felt the same way. 10mo
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marleed
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Pickpick

I‘ve known nuns my whole life, but this book made me understand some intricacies in new ways. In particular, Lent. For years, we attended a House of Prayer deep in the woods about 40 minutes from our house. There was a huge feast on Easter Sunday before all its members dispersed for 2 weeks on personal vacations. I now understand how mentally grueling were thiose 40 days of prayers.

#NunLitQuarterly

jlhammar The sister who cautioned “if you can survive Lent in a convent, you can survive anything” wasn‘t kidding! 11mo
marleed @jlhammar Absolutely! I remember often wondering why this particular community was so visibly exhausted on the afternoon of Easters. This book helped me understand the intensity of their prayer. 11mo
Suet624 I just couldn‘t make it all the way through this one. The author really started to bug me. 10mo
marleed @Suet624 memoirs are an interesting thing. I think because of my association with so many nuns and ex-nuns, and never quite made to a vow not nun, I was fascinated by this one. 10mo
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rubyslippersreads
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“ … I call it the Star Wars prayer. All that language referring to interstellar space and galaxies; you half expect Darth Vader to pop up.”

I enjoyed this book. I never thought Jane would actually decide to become a nun, but I think she was able to find a good balance in her secular and spiritual lives.

#NunLit #NunLitQuarterly

jlhammar Oh my gosh, love it! 😂 11mo
batsy 🤣 I don't think I can fit in this one this month, but hope to play catch up in August. All of the reviews and comments on this book have been fun 😁 11mo
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BookishShelly
This post contains spoilers
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Pickpick

I liked this book, learning about nuns, and following the author‘s journey. There is a cynical part of me that feels this is purely a stunt memoir and she never had any intention of joining a convent. But I enjoyed the book regardless of any fiction elements there could be in the story. #NunLit #NunLitQuarterly

jlhammar Oh interesting, her discernment struck me as authentic. Especially since she ends up taking vows to be an associate of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine. Glad you enjoyed it! 11mo
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jlhammar
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Pickpick

So enjoyed this memoir—engaging, amusing and heartfelt. Jane‘s journey of discernment (at age 57) takes her to some unexpected places physically, mentally and spiritually. Also, loved the peek into modern-day convent/monastery life.

#NunLitQuarterly

Tamra Yes, the peak into cloistered life is always fascinating! 👀 11mo
Kristin_Reads I loved this one! 11mo
Librarybelle I‘m hoping to start this next week! 11mo
See All 8 Comments
LeahBergen It looks like I skipped out on a good one! 11mo
CatMS Love the title and book cover 11mo
kspenmoll This was such a great pick for us to read! Loved it💚💙 11mo
batsy Sounds good! I don't think I can manage it this month, but I'll try next month 🤞🏾 11mo
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Tamra
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Pickpick

“Fulton Sheen, the late U.S. archbishop, once said that hearing nuns‘ confessions was like being stoned to death by popcorn.” 😆

I loved the wit and humor Jane sprinkles into her account of recovering herself with the help of monastics and especially silence. Silence can be an uncomfortable space when we have a plethora of ways to avoid it via distractions.

I skimmed the passages relating to doctrine and church politics. 😏 #nunlitquarterly

dabbe Perfect matchup with your beautiful flowers! 💛🌼💛 11mo
jlhammar Beautiful blooms! Love that quote 😂 I‘m almost done. Should be able to finish-up this evening. 11mo
Suet624 Got a good chuckle out of that quote! 11mo
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Deblovestoread
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Pickpick

#NunLit #TBRTarot #Bookspin

This is a low pick for me as I didn‘t really connect with Jane, maybe because I have never wanted to be a nun. I do admire anyone who has the courage to take a dramatic detour from their life to explore a different path.

jlhammar Pretty background. Good point about the courage it takes to explore such a change. The whole idea of feeling you are being called to religious life is fascinating to me. Look forward to reading more this evening. I‘m just starting the section at St. Cecilia‘s Abbey. 11mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 11mo
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KathyWheeler
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Pickpick

I finished And Then There Were Nuns yesterday. Overall, I really liked it. I had some quibbles with what seems to be her attitude that Christians are somehow viewed as “less than,” but I enjoyed her search to find a meaningful spiritual life for herself; it was a witty and fun journey, with a little bit of horror thrown in that I was glad she was able to come to terms with. #nunlitquarterly

jlhammar Nice review! I‘m about halfway through. Enjoying it so far. 11mo
Tamra Life is getting in my way of reading, but I‘m heartened to know you ended up enjoying it. 11mo
KathyWheeler @Tamra Sometimes life does that. 11mo
britt_brooke Sounds like I need to pick this one up. #stacked 11mo
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kspenmoll
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While this book explores the sacred in the author‘s life, her wit & humor shine through to add light & levity to the book‘s tone.😂😂🍫 #nunlit #buddyread #summerspecial #chocolateday

https://www.lavenderandlovage.com/2021/04/the-queens-chocolate-biscuit-cake.html

Cuilin You can‘t beat a chocolate digestive. 11mo
jlhammar The part towards the beginning when she‘s recounting taking that punch card career test at seventeen and getting the result of rabbi cracked me up - “Like I needed further proof that I was weird.” 😆 11mo
Eggs Sounds like a great book 🍫 11mo
See All 7 Comments
sisilia Now I want some choco digestive🤪 11mo
emz711 I found a place near me in US that has some and I stock up! The best 11mo
kspenmoll @Cuilin @emz711 @sisilia I found some milk chocolate ones at local grocery & they were sooo yummy. I want to find some dark chocolate which is my favorite! 11mo
rubyslippersreads @jlhammar In some ways it makes sense, because later she says that Anglican priests should have to be rabbis first. 11mo
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KathyWheeler
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She‘s right! Why isn‘t Miss Clavel in the Madeline books called Sister Clavel when it‘s clear she‘s a nun? Christmas is prone to generalizations. She makes an observation about the nun‘s habits at one convent; that maybe they‘re wearing them because they‘re Catholic. My aunt, who died in 2012, was a Catholic nun; I never saw her in a habit. I know she once wore them because I‘ve seen pics but that‘s all. #nunlitquarterly #audiowalk

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jlhammar
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Meet our memoirist, Jane Christmas! Just getting started on our latest #NunLitQuarterly read and thought I‘d share a TVO interview with the author and a couple of other related links in the comments below. Happy Reading, Sisters!

jlhammar Jane Christmas: Sister Act TVO Today
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__jPv7GZuJA
11mo
jlhammar Canadian Lit Centre Brown Bag Lunch Series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4244KZP4_T8
11mo
See All 11 Comments
Librarybelle Thanks for sharing! 11mo
JamieArc Thanks! Just started this the other day! 11mo
KathyWheeler Thanks! 11mo
DivineDiana Very interesting bio! 11mo
Tamra Thank you for sharing! 11mo
batsy Thanks for sharing. This month is pretty nuts for me but I'm hoping to squeeze it in 🤞🏾 11mo
quietjenn Thanks! 11mo
kspenmoll Thanks!!!! Just finished- just loved it. Lots of book references, 11mo
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kspenmoll
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My #weekendreads

Read 213/604 pages of Wolf Hall on the train to & from NYC today. #bookedintime #Cromwell #HenryVIII
Plan to finish section of Messy Lives #sundaybuddyread
Plan to Finish Nuns on 215/292 #nunlit
Continue reading A Life on 59/259 #ninewomenwritersbeginagain
Start to peruse To See Takes Time #MOMA #GeorgiaOKeefe
Read chapters for A Room #pemberlittens #achapteraday

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kspenmoll
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Started reading this tonight. My sister gave this to me years ago & I am finally getting to reading it thanks to #nunlit #buddyread #TBR #14books14weeks

TheHeartlandBookFairy That looks good, what do you think so far? 11mo
jlhammar Great quote! I‘ll be starting this weekend. Can‘t wait! 11mo
kspenmoll @TheHeartlandBookFairy I am only on page 14 but it is irreverent while being reverent- 11mo
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KathyWheeler
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I understand the author‘s wish to try out a cloistered life, as I‘ve experienced that pull. What I absolutely cannot get behind is her insistence that Christianity is the only religion that gets no respect. I live in a country (the US) that is currently being taken over by right-wing Christians who are enacting laws to suppress the rights of others. I can‘t attend a pity party for anyone who thinks Christians have it bad. #NunLitQuarterly

Tamra I‘m hoping there is more. 🤞🏾 11mo
KathyWheeler @Tamra I‘m torn between liking it and being annoyed by this attitude. 11mo
jlhammar Oh, interesting! I haven‘t started yet (will this weekend), but that might not sit well with me either. I‘m hoping the rest will make up for it! 11mo
KathyWheeler @jlhammar It‘s not a major part of the book, but it is there. 11mo
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Tamra
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Only a few chapters in and it‘s hilarious! If all memoirs were this witty & laugh out loud funny I would read the genre more often.
#NunLitQuarterly

jlhammar Yay! Look forward to starting soon! 11mo
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Deblovestoread
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So glad the #TBRTarot prompt works for one of my planned July books. I have overbooked myself a bit.

CBee Haven‘t we all 😂😂 12mo
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LitsyEvents
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#NunLitQuarterly 🔔 July 2023 reminder 🔔

Dear Perpetual Reading Sisters of Litsy,

Hope you‘re all having a wonderful summer so far. It‘s almost time for our group read of And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas! Read the book sometime in July, post your review &/or any thoughts along the way and be sure to tag the group.

All are welcome!

repost for @jlhammar

kspenmoll I am in- this book has been in my TBR for quite some time. 12mo
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jlhammar
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#NunLitQuarterly 🔔 July 2023 reminder 🔔

Dear Perpetual Reading Sisters of Litsy,

Hope you‘re all having a wonderful summer so far. It‘s almost time for our group read of And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas! Read the book sometime in July, post your review &/or any thoughts along the way and be sure to tag the group.

All are welcome!

jlhammar @LitsyEvents Please repost. Thanks! 12mo
JamieArc Looking forward to it! 12mo
batsy 🎉🎉 12mo
See All 13 Comments
Librarybelle Sounds great! 12mo
Tamra Yay! 😄 12mo
Ruthiella Perpetual Reading Sisters of Litsy! 😂😂😂 Love it. 👍 12mo
Suet624 Yippee! My library has it. 12mo
jlhammar @Ruthiella @Tamra came up with it. So perfect! 12mo
marleed Can‘t wait! 12mo
LeahBergen I‘ll be sitting this one out but I can‘t wait to read everyone‘s posts! 12mo
UwannaPublishme Yay! Looking forward to reading this one! 😁 12mo
rubyslippersreads @LeahBergen We‘ll miss you, Sister Leah. 12mo
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JamieArc
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Thank you @PatriciaU for my #JolabokaflodSwap package! And an extra thank you for the surprise extra book! I‘m doing a #NunLit buddy read in 2023 so Illuminations will be a great companion read and glad to know you really liked it! Happy Jolabokaflod and happy reading!

And thank you to @MaleficentBookDragon for hosting this beloved swap!
#Jolabokaflod

jlhammar Wonderful! I loved Illuminations and look forward to our #NunLitQuarterly group read of the Christmas. 1y
batsy That's a perfect #nunlit package 😍 1y
Kristin_Reads How great!! 1y
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Kristin_Reads
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Pickpick

📖 11-30-22 || I bought this #NunLit book and just couldn‘t wait until next year to buddy read it for #NunLitQuarterly🤭 This is a witty and irreverent account of a year spent visiting and living in convents in order to discern her true calling. I wasn‘t really expecting the past trauma details, but overall I found this a very enjoyable read. I will save more of my thoughts for reviewing it with the group next year!

jlhammar Wow, you are way ahead of the game! 😂 Love it. Glad to hear it was a pick. Looking forward to it. 2y
KathyWheeler I love seeing these #NunLit posts. My much loved aunt was a nun — not cloistered — so it‘s nice to see recommendations of books to read starring nuns. 2y
See All 11 Comments
Kristin_Reads @KathyWheeler That‘s so cool. Yes, this is a pick for sure (as long as one is okay with irreverent 😉) 2y
KathyWheeler @Kristin_Reads I‘m totally fine with irreverent. 😊 2y
jlhammar @KathyWheeler Would you like me to add you to the group for future #NunLitQuarterly posts? It would be fun to have you read along with us next year if and when you are able (or interested). 2y
KathyWheeler @jlhammar Yes! That would be fun. Thanks. 2y
jlhammar @KathyWheeler Wonderful! 2y
Suet624 @jlhammar oh my gosh. I just saw a post about NunLit! I had no idea this was a thing. Can you add me to your list? 2y
jlhammar @Suet624 Yay! We‘d love to have you read along with us. I‘ll be sure to add you to the group on future posts. 2y
Suet624 @jlhammar thank you!! 2y
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jlhammar
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FYI for you Kindle folks! @EvieBee noticed that there is a deal on our #NunLitQuarterly July 2023 read today. Looks like The Land of Spices (our April read) is also currently $2.99.

Deblovestoread Thank you!! 2y
kspenmoll Thanks for adding me! 2y
DivineDiana Thank you! I bought it! (edited) 2y
See All 6 Comments
monalyisha I‘ve already read this one but am excited “nun”theless! Will you tell me more about #NunLitQuarterly? 2y
jlhammar @monalyisha 😆 Love the pun. I‘ll tag you on the #NunLitQuarterly post with our picks/plan for the year ahead and I‘ll add you to the group for future posts. Would love to have you join us! It‘s very laid-back so you are more than welcome to jump in and out if certain books interest you more than others. 2y
UwannaPublishme Thx for the heads up…just ordered both! 🤗 2y
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kspenmoll
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#alphabetgame #letterT

Take away the “And”and you have two books that begin with the letter “T”

DisneyFan This is my fave of all the letter game posts! I‘m giggling. 2y
kspenmoll @DisneyFan Glad to make you giggle! Perfect duo! 😂 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Thank you for playing 📚 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Thank you for playing 📚 2y
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monalyisha
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“At some point — and it can happen a few times in a lifetime — we are called not only to try something new but to *be* something new.”

📸 by: Valeria Luongo

Soubhiville I love this shot! 2y
monalyisha @Soubhiville Me too! It‘s from a series called, “A Sisterhood.” It‘s even better in its original (not square) format. 2y
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monalyisha
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Pickpick

I majored in English Lit & Religious Studies, so I was thrilled to learn about Christmas‘ memoir, in which she explores the cloistered life before deciding whether to get married to her longterm partner or become a nun. At the beginning, she views nuns as having “an air of secret agent cool…their floor-length black habits swoosh[ing] & billow[ing] like approaching storm clouds, while the edges of their white veils fluttered like angel wings.” 👇🏻

monalyisha 1/3: By the end, she sees the sisters as strong women with joys & sadnesses like anybody else. I‘ll keep mum about whether she does it from the inside or outside — but I will say that she realizes she needs to be a warrior for the church, & fight for women‘s rights — especially a woman‘s right to lead. 2y
monalyisha 2/3: A huge part of her coming to this conclusion has to do with her feeling safe enough to confront her rape, which she‘d been silent about for 30 years. This is a book with more dark nights of the soul than I anticipated…but it‘s also full of the humor, hope, wonder, & faith that I knew to expect. 2y
monalyisha 3/3: What I do know now is this: irreverent as she is sometimes, Christmas is far more pious than I. Interesting as I find the religious life, and especially the promise of contemplation & silence, I could never be a nun. Unless…is there such thing as a pagan nun? Can I please just hang out & contemplate nature & the infinite — preferably someplace warm? 2y
See All 9 Comments
vivastory Wonderful review! I don't have anything profound to say except this title always makes me laugh 2y
monalyisha @vivastory It‘s worth pausing to admire, for sure! She has some other books that I‘d definitely like to check out, too. Perhaps you will also enjoy the title of this one: “Inconti­nent on the Continent: My Mother, Her Walker, and Our Grand Tour of Italy.” ? 2y
vivastory That's wonderful!! I literally lol at that just now 2y
JamieArc I‘ve always had an affinity toward nuns (and have never been Catholic). I became especially interested while studying in France and living down the street from a convent, seeing them ride their bikes with their habits. Marriage also did not seem to be in my future so I thought about what it would be like 😂😂. Now, as a Quaker, I wonder if Quaker nuns are a thing (I‘m now married, lol). It‘s the contemplative life that I‘m drawn to. 2y
JamieArc In short, I need to read this! 2y
monalyisha @JamieArc It‘s worth a read! I‘ve always thought the Quaker faith sounded neat! I‘d love to go to a service. I‘m a lapsed Catholic. Pre-pandemic, I‘d sometimes go to special masses, oftentimes alone — just to check out cool architecture & listen to Latin in the candlelit dark. But I also celebrate equinoxes with friends & create “rituals” of my own. Christ doesn‘t play a big part in my spirituality. But yes! Contemplation, peace, simplicity. 2y
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monalyisha
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“It made me wish that more people were aware of such stunning spiritual oases but also that they recognized the abundant calm that an office such as vespers affords. Vespers, a mere fifteen-minute office, provides an elegant transition between a frantic day in an office cubicle or on a factory floor and the soothing familiarity of home. It would be a nicer world if churches resurrected vespers and people attended in enthusiastic droves.”

Tamra This reminds me an Ethiopian friend told me churches (probably mosques too) are always open in Addis because people are dropping in to say prayers at all hours. Nice meditative idea. 2y
monalyisha @Tamra I really like the idea of sacred/ritual/liminal space: a “transitional space where you are leaving one state behind yet have not fully crossed over to the next.” Vespers are at 5:30, though, & I commute. So, it‘s not looking likely. I could always do something on my own but…its not quite the same. It‘s a pretty idea, though, isn‘t it? 2y
Tamra @monalyisha yes! Transitions are important. When I have a commute (which since Covid hasn‘t happened) it is in a rural area so it really helps to ease out of a work mind frame to a domestic one.😊 (edited) 2y
Cathythoughts Beautiful. I love ritual too and transitional spaces 💫 2y
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monalyisha
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“The thick, sweetly pungent scent of a century‘s worth of incense had permeated every inch of the church — its bricks, mortar, & stone floors — & as if recognizing a fresh & available receptacle, it rushed toward me, penetrating my skin & bones. My body welcomed it happily, as if reuniting with some long-lost opposite.”

Pictured: A scene at a local abbey. My friend, Matt, & I sometimes used to wake early & attend lauds before heading to school.

Cathythoughts Nice post 💫❤️ 2y
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monalyisha
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“Prayers are not portals to instant gratification; they are meditations.”

📸: Laura Husar Garcia

lostinwords Your posts about this book have inspired me to add it to my list of books to read. Can‘t wait to get lost int this one. 2y
monalyisha @lostinwords I love hearing that! Thanks. 😊 2y
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monalyisha
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“I privately wondered whether the nuns would consider installing an outdoor pool in the courtyard garden. You know, just for exercise. A large bbq was already set up…& when I allowed my imagination off the rein, I could conjure up a scene of white umbrellas & teak patio tables…a covered bar…manned by a couple of cabana boys -cabana monks?- who would serve gin & tonics & nibblers while I sat on a chaise lounge in my tankini habit & pondered God.”

julesG 😂😂 2y
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monalyisha
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Started this yesterday on the plane home.

Hilariously, my husband is currently playing a game in which his character is wearing a wimple.

Also, I just realized that it‘s blurbed by AJ Jacobs on the back, who I love. He wrote, “Get thee to a bookstore and buy it!” Classic.

I kinda wish I‘d bought this copy, as the previous patron left an unidentified substance on the front. I will call it coffee & pay no mind. And probably clean it next I rise.

DGRachel I hate mystery substances. 🤢 2y
tpixie Great title- play on words 2y
Soubhiville The name grabbed my attention. 2y
See All 7 Comments
monalyisha @DGRachel As a kid, I hated Library books for this reason. 🙈 Now, I work in a Children‘s Library & clean boogers off books on the reg. 😅 I still get grumpy when adult books are grody, though. You are grown! You should be able to control yourself better! Choose a snack other than Cheetos when reading! Use a napkin! And it for sure hits differently in a pandemic (whether fomites are a big deal or not). 2y
monalyisha @tpixie @Soubhiville Isn‘t it great? Once I knew the book existed, I was always going to pick it up. I double-majored in English Lit & Religious Studies as an undergrad. I‘m not an especially pious person but religion has always fascinated me. The catchy title certainly didn‘t hurt! 😉 (edited) 2y
tpixie @monalyisha this book sounds perfect for you! 2y
Amiable I also adore AJ Jacobs! 👍🏼 2y
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monalyisha
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Vacation reading! 🌴

I‘m a third of the way through the top book, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, & I‘m pleased as punch. Romance? Ghosts? Cheese curds? I mean, really…what more could one need?

monalyisha @BennettBookworm You‘ll notice I made one, final library trip before my flight & picked up 2y
Flaneurette Omg! Cheese curds, old fashion‘s and Wisconsin Dells? I don‘t read romances but I may have to make an exception for this! Can you tell I‘m an ex-cheesehead? 2y
monalyisha @Flaneurette It‘s got me wanting to take a trip, for sure! 🧀 2y
See All 6 Comments
BennettBookworm Ahhhh this is the best! I‘m so excited to hear what you think! 2y
rachelsbrittain Thats some great vacation reading! I really loved Finlay Donovan 2y
MeganAnn Stacked! I love all those things 😍 2y
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monalyisha
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Oh! I‘m remembering that I promised to repost my #JolabokaflodSwap wishlist so it wouldn‘t get buried in the #NewYearWhoDis match posts.

I‘ve already purchased my match‘s book. Just hoping for some Black Friday/Cyber Monday chocolate sales! 🤞🏻🍫🌲

review
xicanti
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Pickpick

A deeply affecting memoir of one woman's spiritual journey. As she decides whether or not to become a nun, Christmas considers the nature of her faith, her relationship with organized religion, and the way she engages with the world. I was moved to spend even more time than usual thinking about my own (non-Christian) beliefs.

Christmas also relives her rape during a prayer session and deals with PTSD, so please read with caution if necessary.

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xicanti
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I took a small reading break to do my first ever jamicure (with many thanks to whoever donated their Jamberry hostess gift pack to the thrift store). I got the hang of it with these wee monsters, so I'll be ready to do some holiday themed wraps at the end of the month.

TricksyTails 💚💅Love it!! 7y
Tamra So cute! 7y
BookMaven407 Great nails 💅🏻 7y
celtichik Cute! 7y
37 likes4 comments
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xicanti
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I bought AND THEN THERE WERE NUNS a couple weeks into my Canadian nonfiction reading project, immediately read the first 1.5 chapters, and got distracted by library books. This morning I started over. Gonna add an explicitly Christian perspective to my #canada150 reading list.

(Unless I bounce off it, but I've managed to finish every other title I've started for this thing of mine so I think I'll be okay.)#bookandbreakfast