Praying with Jane Eyre by Vanessa Zoltan
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Reflections on Reading as a Sacred Practice
A deeply felt celebration of a classic novel–and a reflection on the ways our favorite books can shape and heal us.
Our favorite books keep us company, give us hope, and help us find meaning in a chaotic world. In this fresh and relatable work, atheist chaplain Vanessa Zoltan blends memoir and personal growth as she grapples with the notions of family legacy and identity through the lens of her favorite novel, Jane Eyre. Informed by the reading practices of medieval monks and rabbinic scholars from her training at the Harvard Divinity School and filtered through the pages of Jane Eyre as well as Little Women, Harry Potter, and The Great Gatsby, Zoltan explores topics ranging from the trauma she has inherited as the granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors to finding hope, meaning, and even magic in our deeply fractured times. Brimming with a lifelong love of classic literature and the tenderness of self-reflection, the book also reveals simple techniques for reading any work as a sacred text–from Virginia Woolf to Anne of Green Gables to baseball scorecards.
Whether you’re an avowed “Eyrehead” or simply a curious reader looking for a richer connection with the written word, this deeply felt and inspiring book will light the way to a more intimate appreciation for whatever books you love to read.
Year first published: 2021