Book Reviews

Digging In: Tending to Life in Your Own Backyard

This is what gardening is really about...not only getting your hands dirty, but the experiences and life lessons that grow from the garden. Touching, funny, and delightful.

    — Rebecca Kolls, host of "Rebecca’s Garden" enjoyable read for seasoned and beginning gardeners. Robert Benson gives people inspiration.
    — Jon Carloftis, Contributing Editor, Garden Design Magazine

Digging In is a classic of gentle memoir. I will never look at a garden the same way again, and neither will you. This is Benson at the top of his game.
    — Phyllis Tickle, author of  The Divine Hours series

...he takes the small, quotidian details of creating a home and life and nurtures them into the larger spiritual meaning of how to live....Benson’s words soothe...but just as often burst into a glorious bloom of epiphanies that will dazzle readers, gardeners or not.
    — Publishers Weekly

Digging In is thoroughly wonderful. Benson’s writing is spare, simple, understated, always faintly humorous — and very forceful without seeming to be. As he writes about digging holes for a fence and planting roses he is also using his spade and shovel to turn over the reader’s heart. The book delivers what it promises — it digs deep.
    — Paula D’Arcy, author of Gift of the Red Bird

When one is alert to the tenderness of ordinary things — finches and fence posts and fish fries — and when one has a way with words, one is likely to pen books that invite a reader to consider her own ordinary life anew, and honor the hidden arts of tending and nurturing that gentle our world. Robert Benson does just that in Digging In.
    — Wendy Wright, author of Seasons of a Family’s Life and Sacred Dwelling

In reading these pages it is as though I have been given permission to look through Robert Benson’s window. What I see touches me deeply : love, life, creativity and dreams; growth, humor, hard work, and beauty; earth, blossoms, contemplation, and delight.
    — Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, author of The Song of the Seed

Robert Benson reminds us of what we too often forget — that the ground we walk upon is sacred. With the eye of a novelist and the playfulness of a poet, he tutors us in the art of knowing the place where we live and celebrating the wonders in our own backyards.
    — Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat, coauthors of Spiritual Literacy
            and directors of Spiritualityand

Home by Another Way: Notes from the Caribbean

"...armchair travelers will appreciate the careful recounting of rituals.... Benson captures a world in which time slows down and material things become of less importance."
Publishers Weekly

"The characters and locations of this magical and beloved summer place become (a) meditation and talisman for a deeper existence."

"About a third of the way into this book, we start to breathe more slowly, our heart rate drops and we even catch that sun-drenched, breezy, beachy feeling...a sort of contemplative bask....This memoir is like a beach towel left on the cabana clothesline, lifting in the tropical breeze, calling less attention to itself than to the prevailing winds which point one wise man toward another way home. "
The Scene

Daily Prayer

"In this masterful little book with its accompanying DVD and CD, Benson has brought together for Christians, regardless of denominational background, the tools and concepts needed for observing the daily offices. Here in one package is a great gift to the Church."
--Phyllis Tickle, Compiler of The Divine Hours

"Here is the complete package for anyone who wishes to join in the ancient prayer patterns of the church. Everything is accessible : a DVD with gentle encouragement, humor and wisdom; a CD to guide us as we pray, a "Little Book" so that we can say our prayers anywhere."
--Rev. Jerry P. Haas, Director, The Academy for Spiritual Formation and Emerging Ministries,
Upper Room Ministries

Living Prayer

“…a refreshingly candid, funny and deeply serious look at his life and how the mystery of prayer came to be a part of it.”
—Knoxville News-Sentinel

“In his use of traditions and time-honored mentors ranging from Church fathers and mystics of Jewish and eastern persuasions, he sows broadly and deeply, making this book a universal read.”

The Game:
One Man, Nine Innings, A Love Affair with Baseball

"...(a) sweet, easygoing meditation on the sport.... Benson's tone remains chatty and down-to earth, and the analogies he draws hit the mark..."
The New York Times Book Review

"The Game
brings baseball — and baseball writing — back to their proper scale and scope. This is a great book, especially for those of us more at ease in the bleachers than a sky box."
  Paul Dickson, Author of Keeping Score

"[Benson] has produced an intriguing meditative piece on the magnetic pull of baseball, spicing his book with apt quotes from both baseball and literary stars but leaving little doubt that, given the choice, he would rather have been a great ballplayer than a great writer. Thoughtful fans will enjoy."
Library Journal

"Literary-minded fans who believe that baseball is a mirror for life will enjoy this book."
Publishers Weekly

"Even for people who aren't baseball fans, an evening at the ballpark can have a calming, centering effect. There's something about the crack of the bat, the expanse of green grass and the game's leisurely pace that can impart the most stressful day with a Zen-like peace. [This] meditative book about the life-lessons of baseball, produces a similar efect."
The  Scene

"With writing that is both spare and reverential, Benson compares the plays of a game with the joys and sorrows of day-to-day living."

"Baseball has enough room for all sorts of enthusiasts, and The Game" will appeal to those who like it served up thoughtfully."
The [Buffalo] News

"It's a wise little book, and a great gift for a fan of the game."
Bas Bleu

That We May Perfectly Love Thee
Preparing Our Hearts for the Eucharist
"This is an unpretentious book, simply written, truly felt.... It reminds us of things we have half forgotten. It opens our eyes to things we have only half seen."
Frederick Buechner, author of Speak What We Feel

"[Benson] writes mellifluously with original insights and welcome humor.... The book is refreshingly ecumenical."
Publishers Weekly"

Benson reminds us how much more we receive from the Eucharist when we aproach the sacrament with an awareness of its history, and when we give time and attention to preparing our hearts."

The Living Church

"This is a gentle book, not full of bluster or controversy. Writing with an engaged imagination, Benson invites readers wherever they worship to behold their experience as part of a vast continuum of Christian believers past and future, the great still-unfolding story."
The Tennessean

"Benson's easy prose, artful story and theological sensitivity combine to invite us--more than just prepare us--to the Table, the Story."

A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy

Like Brother Lawrence  and others before him, Robert Benson gently guides readers toward a life of worship, a life in which simple duties take on divine significance.... A Good Life offers a path toward God-centered living lit with ancient wisdom and warmed with hope."
Liz Curtis Higgs, author of Bad Girls of the Bible

  "Reflecting on what makes a "good life," Robert Benson offers an eloquent, warmhearted guide to enriching our lives with the wisdom of Benedict, a 6th century monk. Each chapter is shaped around a Benedictine principle: prayer, rest, community, and work and reveals the brilliant and infinitely practical ways that Benedictine spirituality can be applied to our lives today."

The author’s language is graceful and his ideas, graced....a genuine examination of one’s life reveals that Benson’s advice might just be what we, non-monastic and monastic alike, need to hear.

The Body Broken
Answering God's Call to Love One Another

"Again and again, Robert Benson speaks to my heart.."
Luci Shaw, poet

As always, Benson’s deceptively sneaky storytelling sneaks up on you. His style, a fusion of gentleness, raw truth, and quiet power…is put to good use."
Nikki Grimes,
author of Bronx Masquerade

The pathos of God for the torn and tearing body of Christ has seized the heart of Robert Benson. This book is a pure, passionate and prophetic cry to transcend all division and discord into reverence for one another in obedience to the Master.
Brennan Manning,
Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel

It is a great irony that all of us who love Jesus and know that he prays for us, even now, that ‘we all may be one,’ have such a difficult time loving one another. Robert Benson doesn’t tell us exactly how to do it but he does tell an honest story about the ways that Jesus’ prayer is getting worked out in his life.
Eugene Peterson

Alternatively tender, sad, regretful, and joyous, Benson offers his tales with the honesty of a man who doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. He brings to the topic a profound, if chastened, sense of God’s presence in his daily life and relationships. Benson’s passion will appeal to many readers seeking a well-crafted meditation on a topic that has persistently bemused Christians of all denominations.

Between the Dreaming and the Coming True

“The work instilled in me an awe that has been lacking in my relationship with God. And a deep desire for liturgy that has been dormant for decades. I’m sure this was meant to be a book one savors over days, but I inhaled it all at once....”
Liz Curtis Higgs, author of Bad Girls of the Bible

“It is a personal essay, of sorts, the kind which is a joy to personal that the reader will feel he knows Robert Benson as an old friend. It is disappointing to awaken from the text and realize otherwise.”
— BookPage

One does not read an account such as Benson’s to get a theology lesson as much as to stand alongside someone who is listening to God. Reading becomes a kind of sanctified eavesdropping, standing by a cracked-open chapel door to overhear what God tells Benson so we, too, can hear the Voice we long to hear. Because of Benson’s courage and honesty, we hear and learn."
— Weavings : A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life

"Benson uses words to their optimum effect, skillfully weaving personal stories with musings on the character of God....The result is a soothing balm for anyone struggling with depression or plain, old-fashioned tough times.

Charming and elegantly written...that rare gift, a thought-provoking record of his own spiritual quest...through the dark night of depression....Willa Cather’s phrase ‘Thy will be done in art as it is in heaven’ could serve as an epigraph to this fine work.

The Night of the Child

"...a spiritual feast for the mind and heart, the eye and ear."

Read an Excerpt

Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer

"...the laptop of prayer books."
Herald Sun, Durham, NC |