Tag Archives: The Road

3 Reasons You Should Read ‘The Road’

the-roadI read The Road for the first time three years ago, while confined to a chair recovering from major surgery. I’ve read it twice more since, and I intend to read it a fourth and a sixth and a twelfth time. After all, Stephen King has said that good books don’t give up all their secrets at once. And The Road is a good book. One of the best.

But this isn’t a review, at least not in any proper sense. Been there, done that. It’s merely an excuse to recommend (for the zillionth time) a novel I dearly love. All you people who haven’t been paying attention to the hints I’ve dropped elsewhere elsewhen, listen up here and now.

Of course, I also needed a dumping ground for the impressions that have been welling up inside my head with each additional read through. If you’ll pardon a funky metaphor, The Road is like an onion: there’s always one more layer.

So without further mucking about, here are three very simple and very pointed reasons you should read this book:

First, the characters. McCarthy’s story takes place in a post-apocolyptic wasteland, amid falling ash and desolated cities and roving bands of cannibals. It’s not a ‘boring’ read by any stretch of the imagination. But more compelling than the world itself are the characters who roam it. As McCarthy studies them, we look over his shoulder to see hatred and anger and despair locked in a death-struggle with hope and courage and sacrifice. Men who prey on their fellow man, who hoard heartbeats with greedy, blood-soaked fingers; contrasted with one man who holds his life with an open hand, whose chief aim is to prepare his son for the day he will no longer be around, to train him to “carry the fire,” to teach him what it means to be the good guy in a world of bad guys.

Second, the questions. What does it mean to be “civilized” when civilization has ceased to exist? What does it mean to be human while up to your neck in inhumanity? Is man more than a collection of molecules wrapped in a fleshy exterior? Is life without hope worth living, or even possible? And that’s but a fingernail’s scratch on the surface, believe me. If you read this book and put it down unshaken, unbothered, and unstirred, you did not read this book. Try again.

Third, the writing. Reading Cormac McCarthy is like nothing else in the world of literature. Oh sure, people throw around comparisons to Faulkner and Hemingway like tokens at an arcade, but the fact remains that McCarthy is his own man entirely. His style and his voice are exceptional and unique, and I could spend a dozen paragraphs trying to describe them to you without getting any closer than I am now. You have to experience them for yourself. You don’t know what you’re missing otherwise.

As a bonus: if you happen to be an Andrew Peterson fan, you should know that The Road served as the inspiration for ‘Carry the Fire’:

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On the Bookshelf XXI

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Death by Living by 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 Road by 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 Fascism by 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 44 by 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 Lamb by 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?

Five Favorite Novels


THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy is hands-down my favorite novelist. I have yet to read one of his books and come away disappointed. From the blazing morality play in No Country for Old Men, to the violent poetry of Blood Meridian, McCarthy has long since established himself as one of the greats. That said, if I had to choose only one of his works to call my favorite, it would be The Road. It’s a post-apocalyptic saga, both epic and intimate – a tale of survival, depravity, and remarkable courage. Above all that, however, it’s a love story; fierce, beautiful, gritty depiction of the bond between father and son.
“My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?”

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My first taste of Dostoevsky, and what a taste it was! Crime and Punishment is one of those classic classics; a book I can’t help but recommend 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.
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury one of those storytellers I can return to over and over again without tiring. He’s a master wordsmith, a spinner of tales wonderful, wise, and bizarre. And Fahrenheit 451 is his tour de force. It doesn’t revolve around aliens, robots, or mutating viruses. The primary focus is mankind… and the dangers inherent to a society that’s gone almost completely brain-dead. If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s an example science fiction at its very finest: thrilling, chilling, and smart.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is the literary equivalent of Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist: artful, absorbing, devastating, beautiful. Quite simply, unforgettable. And though it is classified in the Young Adult section of the bookstore, it deserves the consideration, not only of older teens, but of adults as well. It is a story of love and loss, tragedy and hope, wrapped in prose that will take your breath away.
“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

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.
“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So I’m curious… what are your favorite novels? Leave a comment below and share your choices with the rest of us!

Top 10 Favorite Films


Saving Private Ryan (1998)
If you’re a movie-watcher, it’s probably not hard for you to pick out an all-time favorite – a film that has affected you, and still affects you, in a uniquely powerful way. For me, that special film is Saving Private Ryan. Nothing else I’ve seen has quite matched it in terms of sheer magnificence. It’s brutal. It’s heartbreaking. It’s inspiring. And there’s a reason it’s often considered the greatest war film ever made.

Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors, and science fiction is one of my favorite genres. Put the two together, and what do you get? Inception – a thoughtful, stimulating, and utterly gripping Sci-Fi film that ranks among the best of this decade or any decade. To borrow the words of another critic, “Inception is proof that people are not stupid, that cinema is not trash, and that it is possible for blockbusters and art to be the same thing.”

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2000-2003)
Rich, captivating, epic, and breathtaking – just like Tolkien’s books. With a perfect cast, brilliant special effects, and energetic storytelling, this is a masterful fantasy film trilogy. Director Peter Jackson’s book-to-screen adaption is one of the best I’ve ever encountered, and he is to be highly commended for staying so faithful to Tolkien’s vision.

Continue reading Top 10 Favorite Films

Books Every Guy Should Read (Pt. 2)

I told you the list wouldn’t end with part one. In fact, it won’t end with part 2, either…


The Road by Cormac McCarthy
One of the greatest novels ever written, and my all-time favorite piece of fiction. It’s a tale of desperate survival, unrestrained depravity, and courage in the face of horrifying odds. But most importantly, it is a love story; a powerful love story. One that passionately depicts the fierce, undying affection that burns between a father and his son.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I really don’t know of anyone who hasn’t read this series. Timeless fantasy from the pen of a master writer.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
If I had to pick just one science fiction novel to call my favorite, it would almost certainly be this futuristic stunner from Ray Bradbury. It doesn’t revolve around aliens, robots, or mutating viruses. The primary focus is mankind… and the dangers inherent to a society that’s gone almost completely brain-dead.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
A classic, and one of those books that leaves a lasting impression on those who read it. Even though Stalinist Russia was the target when it was first written, its message is still crystal clear and relevant today.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
An intensely haunting picture of the deep dark ugliness that naturally lurks within the sinful heart of man. By no means a pleasant read, but worthwhile one nevertheless.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This one will help you cultivate a “healthy interest” in devils, and also make you more acutely aware of the destructive ways in which Satan and his fallen angels work in the hearts, minds, and lives of men – especially Christians.

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Vintage Wodehouse. ‘Nuff said.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Eschewing the conventions of the Western genre, McCarthy paints a raw and unforgettable picture of the oft glamorized “wild west” and weaves a bleak but thought-provoking tale of human depravity and violence. Beneath the grit and the author’s exceptional prose, it’s an unforgettable story that reaches out and hits you in a way you’ll never forget.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
There’s no denying Asimov’s talent for spinning an engrossing sci-fi yarn. This collection of short-stories is worth looking into, though caution should be exercised with regard to the author’s distinctly humanistic worldview.

The Holy War by John Bunyan
Most people recognize Bunyan as the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but this one is every bit as good. An incredible tale of spiritual warfare and redemption. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
I’m still working my way through this one, but so far, I have to say it’s one of the best espionage novels I’ve ever read. The story is intelligent, the characters are colorful and multi-dimensional, and the psychological tension is well-crafted.

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Another classic fantasy series, delightfully rich in story, characters, and adventure.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
If you’ve seen the movie Men In Black (1997), you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that this book is the literary equivalent of that movie. Funny, funny, funny.

Fear Is the Key by Alistair MacLean
An intelligent thriller that grabs you from the first page. It’s fast-paced, intense, and unpredictable. And I really mean unpredictable: you’ll never know where your going until you get there. And, in the case of this novel at least, that’s a good thing.

Have any recommendations of your own? Any book you think should be featured in future installments of this list? If so, be my guest and share ‘em down in the comments section.