Last week People of the Book mentions the classic "The Diary of a Country Priest" by Georges Bernanos. I, in the midst of looking for something new to pick up, decide to re-read this book, having read it many years ago. Just as I finish the first chapter, I read that Mr. Culbreath has just finished same said book. I comment on this and also comment that while I read it years ago, it had no particular impact on me. Mr. Culbreath wisely suggests that the time of life when we read this book impacts the impact if you will. (my paraphrase).
Looking back (and after reading a bit more of the 'Diary') I can readily see this. I was fairly newly out of graduate school when my sister sent me two books-one "Late Have I Loved Thee" and "The Diary of a Country Priest". At the time I was tinkering with a vocation to the priesthood. I recall after reading "Diary" that I thought it was not such a good recruiting tool for the priesthood as is the movie "Going My Way". Yet maybe my indifferenct to "Diary" was due to an immature spiritual life? Already, just a few chapters in, I am reading it with new enthusiasm.
On the other hand, "Late Have I Loved Thee" was probably the first fiction I had ever read which had a spiritual impact on me. Oh no, that is certainly not true. Dickens' "Great Expectations" certainly had a profound effect on me in 7th and 8th grade-"Tale of Two Cities" to a lesser extent a few years later. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that both "Late" and "Diary" were the first books I read that would be considered both fiction and spiritual reading.