Ever since our honeymoon, spent surrounded by forested hills in northern Pennsylvania, back a two-mile lane, Karen and I have continually had a book we’re reading aloud to each other. At first we took turns reading, but soon settled into a pattern of me reading while Karen cross-stitched or quilted or, for a period in our life, nursed a baby or two. The first books that we read were by George MacDonald, a Scottish author writing in the last half of the 1800’s with an uncommonly robust imagination and singular commitment to live out the vision he saw in the Gospels. In fact, the first two dozen books that we read were all by MacDonald.
How could we not tire of a continual diet of only one author?!
One reason is that MacDonald wrote in diverse genres. So sometimes we were reading the beloved fantasies and fairy tales which he created for children and for which he received much critical acclaim—few writers can evoke wonder as vividly as MacDonald. And sometimes we were reading realistic novels or mysteries written for adults, giving rich glimpses into life in the rugged Scottish highlands or the cities of Victorian England.
The main reason we didn’t tire (don’t tire!) of MacDonald is that few writers can make goodness so lively or create characters of such wisdom and spiritual insight. Many authors find it easy to make evil full-bodied and highly textured. But for MacDonald, the goodness in his characters is what is multi-dimensional and compelling! Out of MacDonald’s own personal life and faith come characters who again and again draw readers like Karen and I by their calm, wise presence and great-hearted vision of God.
Electronic forms of MacDonald’s works (which are public domain) have recently become freely available on the internet. That gives opportunity to read the original unabridged versions of the books! These books often have numerous scanning errors and clumsy formatting. So one of my hobbies during the last couple years has been to give our favorites additional proof-reading and make their formatting more aesthetic and friendly.
I also find joy in sharing them with others! I have a webpage with seven of them available as ebooks in two common formats. Come visit interactingwithjesus.org/macdonald!