Praying with Jane Eyre: Reflections on Reading as a Sacred Practice

TarcherPerigee. Jul. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780593088005. $27. REL
Zoltan’s lovely debut offers glimpses into the spiritual self-care we can find for ourselves in literature. Somewhere in between self-help-type books like The Novel Cure and memoirs like My Life in Middlemarch, this debut is, in Zoltan’s words, a collection of sermons of sorts, written from the vantage point of an atheist Jew “using fiction written after the age of miracles as scripture.” Her focus is primarily on Jane Eyre, Little Women, the “Harry Potter” series, and The Great Gatsby, but the scope of the book expands and contracts, touching on large-scale questions relating to faith and wonder, as well as on specific embodied experiences, which Zoltan shares in visceral, beautiful ways. The “Toolkit on Sacred Readings” alone is worth the price of the book; it could be useful for framing book group discussions in ways that help readers find sustenance, community, and strength in and through literature.
VERDICT More than just a celebration of Jane Eyre, Zoltan’s touching account, spanning spirituality, literature, memoir, and self-help, will resonate with fans of re-reading as a meditative practice.
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