For the refreshment of the spirit


Is there a favorite book that inspires you, one you return to over and over again?  I was thinking of this idea in connection with this bit in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

“On the next page she came to a spell ‘for the refreshment of the spirit.’ … And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. …before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all.  She was living in the story as if it were real…”

She wants to read the story again and finds that it is fading away.

“…and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician’s Book.”

(She later asks Aslan to tell it to her, and he promises that he will.)

Is there a story that always makes you feel good?

I asked other people in the department, and this is what they wrote.



Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner are precious to me because they hold my mother’s voice. A. A. Milne’s books were first published in the 1920s when Mom was a little girl when, so the copies that she read to us had been hers as a child.

When I read these stories today I hear her voice in my head. I am transported to the Hundred Acre Wood and to my own childhood. Gloomy donkey Eeyore was my favorite character. “In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail”, “In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday”, and “In Which Pooh Invents a New Game and Eeyore Joins In” were the stories I wanted to hear again and again. Whenever my family was out hiking and came to a bridge over a stream, we always gathered twigs or pine cones so we could play Poohsticks. We wished one another “HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY”, and quoted Pooh, “Time for a little something”, when we wanted a snack. Rereading the familiar words, I am caught up again in the adventures of some of my oldest literary friends.

Milne’s imaginative wordplay, his gentle humor and memorable characters continue to draw families to the enchanted place he created. Share the original with your children, so your voice will be captured in the pages of these classics for them.


Reading really is in itself a spell.
There are two books I turn to most when needing a “refreshment of the soul”.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Doesn’t every child and even adults want a forest to grow in their bedroom?
It is the book that reminds me that our imagination can take us anywhere and when we return supper will be waiting….still hot.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
There are few books that I want to read over and over and this is one of them. The wonderful magical world of Harry Potter is of course the main draw for readers.
J.K Rowling’s writing is so fantastic that I can really get lost into the world the second third or fourth time just  as much the first time that I read it.



I could name a lot of stories, but the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane is a favorite of mine.  It starts in the library, when Nita (who has ducked into the children’s department to hide from bullies) is drawn to a book titled So You Want to be a Wizard.  She takes an oath, meets some allies, and is soon deep in the wizardly business of protecting the universe.

There is plenty of science fiction and fantasy that features battles between good and evil, but there are some things that make this series unique.  The settings range from contemporary New York City (and a creepy alternate Manhattan) to alien worlds.  Humor sneaks in between the more serious moments.  Magic is closely aligned to science and largely consists of being able to talk things into helping you.

I don’t think those things fully explain why I feel truly, deeply happy when I read these books.  They include lots of things I love (astronomy, talking trees, allusions to Norse mythology, more astronomy), but it’s more than that.  These are stories that acknowledge that the real world is full of pain and injustice, but they also show people struggling to do good and make it better– on a big scale or a small one, by magic or by ordinary means.

Looking for more refreshing stories?  You might want to check out the website for the Christopher Awards.  “First presented in 1949, the Christopher Awards were established by Christopher founder Father James Keller to salute media that ‘affirm the highest values of the human spirit.'”  They include television, books and movies for children, teens and adults.


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