What I did with Jane Eyre was underline my favorite sentences, those that I believed could work in prayer. Now, I didn’t know this at the time, but it turns out that even that practice has a religious root in it, although many of us collect quote journals without knowing or being impacted by the religious history of the practice. The practice of which I speak is collecting florilegia, which means 'a gathering of flowers' in Latin.

I was taught this practice by Stephanie Paulsell, who told me about her father, a minister who reads this way through the book of Psalms. He reads a certain number of psalms each day and writes down the sentences that stick out to him, which are called sparklets. He writes them down in a journal, without annotating which psalms they are from, and then, when he’s worked his way through the psalms, he reads his collection of sparklets — his florilegia — and reads it as if it is his own text. This then serves as a reflection tool: What stood out to him this time? What are these quotes saying to him about himself? What do the quotes mean next to one another, instead of in their usual places?

You treat this text that you have created as if it were its own sacred text, and then you go back and read the book again, and do it again. This can easily be done with any text, not just the psalms.

There are many ways to engage with your florilegia. For example, when you are reading as a group. I now lead pilgrimages with secular texts, and at the end of each day we all share our sparklet from that day. This can be a quote from the text that we have been reading or something that a fellow pilgrim has said. In this way, we learn to treat each other’s words as sacred. I type up the sparklets that people share and then we spend a few minutes treating that new text as if it was sacred, simply remarking on what we notice about it. This can be done at the end of any book club meeting or at the end of reading any book in a book club; including your book club of one.

Vanessa Zoltan in Praying with Jane Eyre