“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.”
– Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
1. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Now that I’ve finally read this, I can’t help but recommend it to every single person who crosses my path. It is at once a gut-wrenching morality play, a brilliant psychological study, and a gripping crime thriller (not to mention a stunning refutation of Frederic Nietzche’s “Superman”). It’s dark and heavy, yes, but also shot through with hope; a story that affirms both the lostness of the human condition and the power of Christ to save.
2. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
This acclaimed novel is ostensibly a courtroom drama, but such a description does not really do this profound and multifaceted book justice. Through the eyes of a child, Lee explores the evils of racial prejudice with subtlety and power, gracing her story with an elegance so unspectacular it’s spectacular. More than once, I had to pause and read passages aloud, just for the pleasure of rolling them off my tongue. Full review
3. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card
As far as science fiction goes, Ender’s Game isn’t good, nor is it great – it’s brilliant. Winner of the Hugo and the Nebula awards, this bestselling novel by Orson Scott Card is a stellar fusion of action and ideas; a story as intellectually challenging as it is relentlessly entertaining. (The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, is also terrific). Full review
4. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien
This is not a novel, nor a memoir, nor a short story collection: it is, instead, an exquisite combination of all three. Through this unique but effective merging of fact and fiction, the author paints a picture of his life (and the lives of his fellow soldiers) before, during, and after the Vietnam war. And what a picture it is. Full review
5. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s either one of the best novels I’ve ever read… or it’s one of the best novels I’ve ever read. They call ‘em classics for a reason, and this one is no exception. Beautiful writing, thought-provoking story.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
I’ve read mixed reviews on this one – people loved it and people who found it disappointing. I’m not sure which side of the fence I’ll fall on, but I can say that it’s an interesting read so far. I’m no dyed-in-the-wool Apple fanboy, but Jobs was a fascinating individual. His impact on the tech world was tremendous… and that’s still probably an understatement.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Described by one reviewer as “an utterly serious and sad, but damn funny book.” I’m looking forward to this one with mixed feelings: on the one hand, it’s an anti-war satire (and a pacifist I am not); on the other, it’s a classic novel which seems to demand a reading, regardless of one’s political views. So I’m giving it a go. I hope I don’t regret it.
Biblical Logic: In Theory and Practice by Joel McDurmon
“God created logic and reasoning as He created man, and He created it for man, and therefore we should find it reasonable that God’s Word has something to say – if not a lot to say – about logic, rationality, and good judgment.” I enjoy reading McDurmon’s articles on American Vision, so I’m excited to finally pick this one up.
The Evan Gabriel Trilogy by Steve Umstead
“Umstead has created what I can only describe as a Tom Clancy-esque world a few hundred years into the future.” After reading that, I knew there was no way this series was not getting added to my shelf. I’m relatively new to military sci-fi, but it strikes me as a rather terrific combination, don’t you think? Here’s hoping this series is as smashing as it looks.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I first heard about this one from Tim Challies, who gave it a glowing recommendation; then my Mom bought a copy, read it, and loved it. Now I’m reading it. This Pulitzer Prize winner is narrated by 76-year-old John Ames, “a preacher who has lived almost all of his life in Gilead, Iowa. He is writing a letter to his almost seven-year-old son, the blessing of his second marriage. It is a summing-up, an apologia, a consideration of his life. Robinson takes the story away from being simply the reminiscences of one man and moves it into the realm of a meditation on fathers and children, particularly sons, on faith, and on the imperfectability of man.”
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
Otherwise entitled How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. God appeared to me in a dream and told me this book was going to be awesome. Oh, wait…
1984 by George Orwell
Orwell’s classic needs no intro from me. I’ve been told that it’s incredibly dark and depressing – which strikes me as appropriate, considering the subject matter. Dark stories don’t usually bother me anyway, as evidenced by the fact that two of my favorite novels are The Road and Crime and Punishment.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." – Lord Byron