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2018 Reading Challenge: The Year of Reading Buechner

So…here we are in 2018!

A brand new year is an opportunity for reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future, and in this case, I’m going to do the latter and reveal my new reading challenge for 2018: The Year of Reading Buechner.

First of all, a brief explanatory note. I started doing a reading challenge two years ago, with my Year of Reading Lewis, in which once a month I read a book by C.S. Lewis and blogged about it here. I truly enjoyed that series, and will definitely do a Year of Reading Lewis, Pt. 2, one year, because there are many more Lewis books I want to re-read and others I want to discover.

Last year I embarked on the Year of Fun Reading Challenge, inspired by the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, and had a great time! But this year I wanted to return to something a little more meaty. I almost decided on doing my Lewis Pt. 2 series again, but in the end decided to branch out a bit and try someone different; an author into whose works I have been wanting to delve more deeply.


Frederick Buechner. Photo from

Frederick Buechner (pronounced BEEK-ner) is one of America’s greatest living writers, still active today, in his nineties. He has earned many awards, including the O. Henry Award, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, finalist for the National Book Award, Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize, Critics’ Choice Book Award, and others. His honorary degrees include ones from Yale and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Buechner is both an author and a ordained Presbyterian minister, and his writing runs the gamut from poetry, essays, fiction, sermons, and autobiography. He has published over 30 books, which gives me a lot to choose from!

I am not completely new to Frederick Buechner. A couple of years ago I read The Son of Laughter, his book about the biblical patriarch Jacob. I found it so startling and compelling I have been eager to read more of his work ever since. Aside from that, though, I chose Frederick Buechner for my focus this year for a couple of reasons.

First of all, he is someone who writes about the intersection of faith, culture, and art, and that is something I am very interested in. I’m looking forward to his thoughts on this, and to examining how he does that in his own writing.

Blechner also has a couple of fiction books on medieval saints. Godric (published in 1980) was the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize that year, and Brendan (1987), is about one of my favourite characters from the Early Middle Ages, Brendan the Navigator. So I will be able to tie at least some of his writing into my Dark Ages focus here on the blog.

Finally, I have been intrigued by the many quotes and excerpts I have read by Buechner.  And in October, when I read this post over at A Pilgrim in Narnia, I was sold. Buechner it would be for 2018!

Probably his most famous quote is one that is good for us all to ponder, especially as we head into this new year:

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

– Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation.

I hope you will join me as I journey into the writing of Frederick Buechner. As in previous years, I will be reading one book a month for this series and will blog about it on the last Friday of the month. The series will start at the end of January with one of Frederick Buechner’s newest: The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Your Life. 

Featured Image from


  1. Oh, very cool. I am a big fan of Buechner, just finishing the Book of Bebb a couple of days ago. It is really four short books–and all of his books are pretty short. Bebb is one of my favourite characters. There is a 365-day reader, which I reviewed a long time ago:
    Not a lot of Buechner for me. Just finished Bebb, and I’ll read the 2nd memoir this winter, the 3rd in the summer, and the 4th in the fall. The memoirs are quite important to me.
    Brendan and Godric are difficult but gorgeous. I’d love to read his first bestseller, a preChristian book, but I’ve never seen it.
    Good luck!

    1. L.A. Smith says:

      I definitely have the memoirs and Bebb on the list to read this year. Seems like there’s a lot of rehashing/re-compiling of his stuff out there too. I’m hoping to read as much of a variety as I can though, so hopefully won’t get too many repetitive works read throughout the year. Looking forward to it!

  2. sdorman says:

    so unfamiliar to me! looking forward to your thoughts on his books. i do wonder if i’ll ever read any of them.
    “because in the last analysis all moments are key moments” — well said. (if God is God it must be so?)

    1. L.A. Smith says:

      He’s a writer I’ve heard a lot about and haven’t read enough of, so it will be interesting to dive in!

  3. I really like the quote

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