The title comes from Enrique, a young Spaniard. During the semester of college in which I was alleged to be studying philosophy in Ireland, a bunch of my friends at home made a tape of their greetings and sent it to me. It was all very funny, but most amusing was how this Enrique, whom I hardly knew, would occasionally burst in with reading recommendations delivered in a thick Spanish accent. He would say, "I know great book you must read; is called...Hoog [sic] of St. Victor, On the Sacraments of the Catholic Faith" or "I know great book you must read; is called...Icelandic Sagas!" Seventeen years later I'm happy to say that I've almost read the first (in Deferrari's translation), but have not yet approached the second.
One of my ascetic principles is that I don't tell anybody what to read unless specifically asked. This is one of my particular applications of 'do unto others as I would have them do to me.' For whatever reason, I don't like being told what I need to read. I might even want to read something, but I can't. Sometimes I'm just not able to get through a book at a certain moment in my life; I tried to read The Ascent of Mount Carmel many times without success. Then, all of a sudden, on a certain retreat, I read it all the way through. Providence was saving it for the moment when I would have the right combination of desire and experience. If you really want me to read something, it would be better to tell me not to read it, so that I might do it out of curiosity and contrariness. This is how I came to read Kazantzakis's life of St. Francis when I was a novice; an older friar had told me that reading it had messed up his spiritual life when he was in novitiate. Something for the inner dualist, I guess.
Right now the thing I'm supposed to read is The Shack. If I had a nickel for every parishioner who has told me about my absolute need to read this book, I could go get tacos al pastor and a Dr. Pepper for lunch every day of the Easter season. I even tried to read it, but was unable. I got about two-fifths of the way through and was unable to proceed. Now someone has even given me a commentary on the book, but I don't want to be the guy who reads a commentary without reading the thing itself.
I love you and I thank you for your solicitude about my spiritual reading. I am sure that it is your prayers that hold me together through the day. But I can't always read the things you think I should. So world, let's come to an agreement. I won't give you unsolicited reading advice and you won't give it to me. Enrique is excepted.
For anyone who is curious to make up my negligence in the larger spiritual economy, check out the Icelandic Sagas Database.