50 books: Guest Post by Steve Gershom

Okay, so I just completely forgot to post a book pick yesterday.  Today, I’m featuring two good books for Advent reading.  The first recommendation is written by the wonderful Steve Gershom (Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks).


The Golden Key by George MacDonald
illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Everybody runs the risk of doing what Revelation 2:4 warns about: forsaking their first love. I come back to The Golden Key often, to remind me what my first love was and is.
It’s a children’s story, and my mother first read it to me when I was maybe eight years old, but it laid the groundwork for all the things that, when I am at my best, I am able to remember about life: that it is terribly good and terribly exciting; that the stakes couldn’t be higher; that real goodness is a thing that glows white hot; that our final destination is a beauty so deep you could never hit bottom.
Not that kids will get all of that at first. It works as a standard fairy tale, too: the quest for a magical object, the strange, sage-like figures met along the way, the tests and trials. The adult will see further, and if he’s reading it out loud, should probably have several kleenexes at hand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   —Steve Gershom
And, since I owe you a book from yesterday, let me remind you that ADVENTHOLOGY has broken free from the murky realms of pre-ordering, and is now on sale.  Here is the cover for my contribution:
Here is an excerpt:

But what if we’re too sick, too busy, or too lazy to enter into a full observance of each season?  What if we’re just half-hearted draftees as the calendar reels by?  Or what if we get so caught up in the preparation that we miss the main event?  What if we’re never sure we did it right?

It’s the liturgical calendar to the rescue again.  Just like any life, the life of the Church includes healthy doses of Ordinary Time.  Mother Church, in her wisdom, knows that her children need regular lulls of boredom and routine in order to process everything that happened to us during the feasts and fasts.  The great celebrations of the liturgical year are a tremendous gift to us, but ordinary time is something just as valuable:  time to unpack the gifts we received.  Time to see what we really have.

And time to remember that Christ was born as a baby.  The thing about babies?  They need time to grow.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from the other contributors, Dorian Speed and Brandon Vogt (and click here for an excerpt of Dan Lord’s contirbution).  Also check out the editor Ryan Charles Trusell’s redesigned website, where he’s recently started blogging!


  1. To Steve Gershom: I have to admit that standard fairy tales were read to me by my mother a good many years ago. As a former public librarian I had a good working knowledge of childrens’ books as we now know them and their illustrators. Thanks for the review.

  2. I love “The Golden Key” (and other stories by MacDonald too) and have been wondering about the right age to introduce my kids to them. I have had a lifelong problem of reading good books at the wrong time (“Anna Karenina” in 8th grade, short stories of Flannery O’Connor while morning sick, and so on) and I’d hate to do that to my kids. Age 8, eh? Good to know…

  3. I have chills….I just read “The Golden Key” for the first time yesterday. (Peter Kreeft prints the whole story in his “Shadowlands” book, which is otherwise all excerpts from C.S. Lewis.) I felt like I had read the magic story that Lucy reads in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader “for the refreshment of the soul.” Immediately I started wondering if there was an illustrated version that I could get for my children….and here it is! Thank you!

  4. I received my copy today and slightly bummed it’s not the one illustrated by Sendak. I chose the $7.99 paper back which is not illustrated at all. Thats what I get for trying to save a pound.

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