I have a fascination with nuns. I suppose it can be traced back to Catholic school, where they hovered over us for years, chalk and rulers in hand, teaching us about grammar and God. Our nuns were Dominicans. They wore all white with black veils. Some were sweet and grandmotherly, some were stern but fair, others mean and nasty. In short, they were human, even if we didn't know it at the time.
Today's book, Scary Nuns: Sisters at Work and at Play (HarperCollins, 128 pages, $14.95) is a small volume filled with photographs of what nuns are doing ...
... when they're not praying. They apparently swim in the ocean in full habit, play pool, take part in target practice, ice skate, appear on TV, go fishing, dance in their stocking feet, do needlepoint, go to amusement parks, play baseball, drink tea and eat cake.
I have to admit, I already knew all this. You see, I've been given as a gift, two years running, a wall calendar titled "Nuns Having Fun," which includes many similar photographs. It would have been helpful back in grammar school to have such a reference because for all we knew, all the nuns did was pray — that is, when they weren't teaching school. I can't even recall if I ever saw one eat. I'm sure I never saw one in the bathroom.
Scary Nuns includes nun-related quotes from noted authors and several Scary Nun Hall of Fame entries on infamous sisters such as SIster Maria Jesus Agreda, "the original Flying Nun" (aka The Blue Nun) and Catherine of Siena, "who liked to catch falling heads and bathe in blood."
It's a quick, fun read for those like myself, who still find fascination with those who wear the habit.