The Once and Future Kingby T.H. White
A classic retelling of the story of King Arthur. Meant to read for school last year and never picked it up. So I just did. If the first paragraph is any indication, this will be tremendously entertaining.
Beyond Good and Evilby Frederic Nietzsche
Nietzsche for the win. (Not really.) First impressions? Dry as the Sahara, cranky as Hades, occasionally very fascinating, often very dull, and rather difficult to take seriously. Thankfully, it’s getting more interesting the deeper I go. More wrong, too – but at least more interesting in its wrongness.
In the Beginning: Great Opening Lines from Your Favorite Booksedited by Hans Bauer
Presenting the first sentence to over 700 novels – including many of the good (The Road), some of the bad (Twilight), and every now and then, the very ugly (50 Shades of Grey? Are we for realz?). Anyway, it’s an amusing little read, and as a writer, I enjoyed seeing how various authors approach the all-important first hook. Thanks to brother Eddie for pointing me to it.
The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak
One of my favorite stories, long overdue for a re-read. It’s been a few years since my first time through, so I’m looking forward to savoring it again. If you have neglected to read it even once, well, what is wrong with you exactly? Get on with it.
Our Culture, What’s Left of Itby Theodore Dalrymple
“Holy epic essays, Batman!” This book is tremendous. It’s going to be required reading for each of my kids before they leave the house. (What’s that? Of course I don’t have kids yet. Just planning ahead here.)
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Childby Anthony Esolen
One of the finest books I’ve ever read – which is why I’m reading it again. I figure it deserves that kind of attention at least once a year. You can check out the review I wrote awhile back, but you’d be better off just buying the book and reading it yourself. Everybody should. If I had my way, everybody would.
Collected Worksby Arthur Machen
Lovecraft led me here, and for that I am truly grateful. Machen is a genius.
The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thoughtby Marlynne Robinson
“Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the repressive ‘puritan’ stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, Robinson repeatedly sends her reader back to the primary texts that are central to the development of American culture but little read or acknowledged today.” I’m on binge here with this kind of thing, in case you haven’t noticed. First Bradbury, then Dalrymple, now Robinson. And it ain’t even February yet, so my brain my very well go blooie.
I Am Legendby Richard Matheson
Loved the story the first time through, and wanted to visit it a second time. If you enjoy sophisticated science fiction, tales of the apocalypse, or just long for the days when vampires used to be scary, this book is a gem.
Suttreeby Cormac McCarthy
“… the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville.” I really don’t know what to say about this one, except that it’s freakishly weird – like Flannery O’Conner on steroids – and I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good thing.
Back on Murderby J. Mark Bertrand I usually avoid contemporary Christian fiction like the plague, simply because so much of it is face-slappingly bad. I’ve heard Bertrand’s book is a welcome exception to the rule. The Kindle edition is currently available for free, so grab it if detective novels are your thing.
Emmaby Jane Austen
Because, in the words of Peter Leithart, “real men read Austen.” And they have a good time doing it, too.
Henry Vby Shakespeare
With the possible exception of Coriolanus, this is easily my favorite Shakespeare play, not least for passages like this one: “The sum of all our answer is but this: We would not seek battle as we are, Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it.”
Leviathan Wakesby James S.A. Corey
“Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.” The first installment of the bestselling Expanse series – which I know nothing about, except that it has been highly praised by a number of reviewers I follow. It was, I must admit, George R.R. Martin’s blurb that piqued my interest: “It’s been too long since we’ve had a really kicka** space opera.”
Chasing Francisby Ian Morgan Cron
Let’s just say I’m reading this one with an extreme amount of skepticism. And the endorsement from Rachel Held Evans isn’t helping any.
Saving Leonardoby Nancy Pearcey
“Is secularism a positive force in the modern world? Or does it lead to fragmentation and disintegration? In Saving Leonardo, best-selling award-winning author Nancy Pearcey makes a compelling case that secularism is destructive and dehumanizing.” If you loved Pearcey’s work in Total Truth, you’ll love it here.
Anna Kareninaby Leo Tolstoy
Faulkner dubbed it the “the best novel ever written”, and I can see where he’s coming from. Until now, my only experience with Tolstoy had been The Death of Ivan Ilych, which I enjoyed but wasn’t blown away by. But this book… wow. Just wow. Leave it to a Russian with a epic beard to write something this fantastic.
Cities of the Plainby Cormac McCarthy
“In this final volume of The Border Trilogy, two men marked by the boyhood adventures of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing now stand together, in the still point between their vivid pasts and uncertain futures, to confront a country changing or already changed beyond recognition.” McCarthy has yet to disappoint me. I don’t know how the story will end, but I know it will be magnificent.
Woolby Hugh Howey
YES. FINALLY. I’ve been aching to get my hands on this one since last year. I love the story behind it: Howey wrote it while working as a bookseller, writing faithfully each morning and during every lunch break for nearly three years. He self-published in 2011, and the book has since become an underground hit (Ridley Scott has even purchased the film rights). So yeah: I’m only slightly excited to see what all the buzz is about.
Her Hand in Marriageby Douglas Wilson
Something tells me this is gonna be a really, really good read: “The modern dating system is bankrupt. It does not train young people to form a relationship but rather to form a series of relationships, hardening themselves to all but the current one… Biblical courtship is a humble affront to the sterility of modern relationships. And as a new generation rejoices in this ancient wisdom, the current waves of broken relationships will begin to recede.”
In Defense of Sanityedited by Ahlquist, Pearce, & Mackey
It’s a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton. And it’s awesome (duh). What more do want to know?
Why We Love the Churchby Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
From J.I. Packer: “Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.” While we’re on the subject, I’d like to recommend the other book these guys wrote, Why We’re Not Emergent. Seriously. Go read it. They make a terrific team.
Death by Livingby N.D. Wilson
I have laughed, I have cried, I have cheered – and I’m barely fifty pages in. This is a beautiful, beautiful book. “Stories mean trouble. Stories mean hardship. The fall of man did not introduce evil; it placed us on the wrong side of it, under its rule, needing rescue. And God is not an aura of ruling auras. His Son is flesh even now. You have flesh. This story is concrete, it is for real, and it is played for keeps.” (I’ll be participating the official Death by Living blog tour later this month; look for my review on the 30th.)
The Roadby Cormac McCarthy
My third time through. McCarthy is my favorite contemporary novelist, and perhaps my favorite novelist period – but as much as I love and admire the rest of his work, The Road has been, is, and always will be his magnum opus as far as I’m concerned. Seldom is literature more haunting, more gut-wrenching, more powerful than this.
Liberal Fascismby Jonah Goldberg
I’ve followed Goldberg’s writing on the web for some time, but this is the first book I’ve read by him. It hasn’t disappointed. In fact, the next time I hear a liberal throw the word “fascist” around as an insult to his conservative opponents, I may just hand him a copy of this book – a stinging reminder that the original fascists were actually on the left, not the right. Talk about taking the wind out of someone’s sails.
The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield
A biography of the beer that changed the world. Halfway through and enjoying it immensely. I like Douglas Wilson’s endorsement the best: “Pour this book into a frosted glass and enjoy.” While you’re at it, I’d also advise wearing your favorite Guinness t-shirt. Y’know, just because.
Child 44by Tom Rob Smith
A remarkable debut effort – chilling, intelligent, and very well-written: “When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there’s no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state.”
The Supper of the Lambby Robert Farrar Capon
Oh, how I love this book. It’s a culinary reflection, a cookbook, and a theological treatise baked into one single tasty volume, garnished with enough joie de vivre to make the sourest food cynic smile. Delicious stuff. Here’s a taste for the hungry and the curious.
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