Julie Byrne: Not Even Happiness
These Dang Republicans

The Eighth Day Books Catalog Is Back

I say that even though I had never seen it until a few days ago, when it arrived in the mail, announcing its return. I didn't know it had been away. I've been hearing about Eighth Day Books for years, but didn't know much more than that it is a highly regarded Christian bookseller, with an Orthodox slant. 

I think they got my name and address from one of the magazines I subscribe to. I can tell because they have my name as "Maclin," not "James M" or "Mac." Maybe it was Touchstone. Or Dappled Things. In any case, I'm glad they did, because it's a great catalog. If you're not familiar with it, but you used to get the old A Common Reader and/or Cahill and Company catalogs, this can fairly be described as a Christian version of them. I know, Cahill was/is Christian, but, as I recall, in a sort of lite way. And I seem to recall liking Common Reader more, but it's a shaky memory.

At any rate I did love the Common Reader catalog, which I think was killed by Amazon. It was a good read in itself, and although I did not order very often from it, because I didn't have much money to spare in those days, it did introduce me to some writers of whom I had not previously heard, such as Alice Thomas Ellis and Ronald Blythe. (I hope I'm not giving it credit that should go to Cahill and Company; these are decades-old memories.)

The Eighth Day catalog is just as good, just as much a good read. I've now looked through most of, and read much of, its 130 pages. I have to admit that I have no plan and not a great deal of desire to order books from several of its categories: Theology and Patristics, Ecclesiography, probably not even Spiritual Direction or Athletes of Prayer. At one time I might have coveted some of these, but at this point in my life much of it seems too specialized for me. But the literary stuff, and the more general philosophical-theological stuff--well, I've already marked several titles to be ordered.

For instance: George Steiner, known primarily as a literary critic, died recently. Many years ago (close to fifty) I read some of his reviews in The New Yorker and was impressed enough by them that his name stayed with me as a writer I might want to investigate further. I think it was one of these which included a remark which has stayed with me ever since: that The Waste Land was "a last run through the stacks before they close the library." I never have followed up on that impulse, but news of his death reminded me of him. And here's this catalog which includes two intriguing titles by him, Real Presences and In Bluebeard's Castle.

And I do intend to order them from Eighth Day, possibly even using the order form in the back of the catalog. Even if one disapproves or is suspicious of Amazon in principle, the temptation to use it is often almost irresistible, for reasons which I'm sure we all know, and which come down to "it's so convenient." For a while I tried to make myself use my local independent bookstore instead, but essentially everything I want is a special order for them, requiring two trips to the store (one to place the order, one to pick it up). Also: (a) I suspect special orders are more trouble than they're worth for the store, and (b) I don't think the store needs me. This has become a pretty affluent town over the past 25 years or so, and the store now includes a coffee shop and a music venue, and seems to be doing very well without my occasional few dollars.

Here's the Eighth Day Books web site. At a quick look I don't see a way to sign up for the catalog, but maybe if you order from them they put you on the list. Another reason for buying from them is to keep getting the catalog, though I suppose it doesn't change very much from one edition to the next.


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Oh no, no, no! This is a dangerous thing. Interesting that I didn't get one because I used to be on their mailing list.


Very shabby of them, inviting new people like me and neglecting old friends.

I just decided to order that new collection of FOC letters, and thought I would order it from them, but it's not in the catalog. I guess they'd already made up the catalog before it came out.

I got mine last week too. I think they used to have some arrangement with Touchstone, where subscribers got the catalogs. They haven't done a print one for quite a long time, however, and at the end there I think they actually may have charged for it. Back in the heyday I think you used to get two a year, along with occasional updates/newsletters.

Anyways, it's good to see it back. I've got a few things marked for purchase as well.

I've only read a little bit of Steiner, but In Bluebeard's Castle is one of the ones I read. I read it after his controversial short novel The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H., which I found simply stunning. I have a copy of Real Presences but haven't read much in it. Ditto his book on Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

Speaking of books, I don't know if I'll buy this or not but it certainly seems intriguing, just based on the title alone:


Not something I would read, since I know almost nothing about Hegel, but definitely an intriguing title.

Somewhat unrelated, but here's a really good conversation between Wendell Berry and a climate-change activist. It’s interesting that Berry refers to Bernanos’ Last Essays as one of his formative reads dating to the mid-60’s (That book was just republished late last year after being o.o.p. for a long time). As Jeff Bilbro says in his link to this piece on FPR, “Berry is a wily old fox, repeatedly refusing to be baited into despair or determinism.” It’s quite enlightening hearing Berry’s common-sense “conservative” side come out in talking with someone somewhat more liberal/activist than himself. Very much worth reading.

By the way, Berry’s first experience seeing strip mining up close and personal is similar to mine when I first witnessed mountain-top removal mining in West Virginia in 2001. If anything sealed me as an “environmentalist” it was that.


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