The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Reading Lists

OK, we're well into the summer and any summer reading list should probably have been posted back in May. My only excuse is that I live in Florida where it's summer most of the year and any attempt to define the start of the season just doesn't make a lot of sense. So without apology I offer my list now while there's still time to make it to the beach before you northerners experience the first snowfall.

Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart (Yale University Press, 2009). A wonderful book by a very smart man. He addresses the place of Christianity in transforming the ancient world and the potential repercussions of the present day neglect of Christianity's spiritual and moral values. Dr. Hart is currently a visiting professor in Theology at Providence College and the author of another wonderful book, The Beauty of the Infinite.

Latro in the Mist (Orb Books, 2003) and Soldier of Sidon (Tor Books, 2007) by Gene Wolfe. These two books (actually three since Latro in the Mist combines the two early novels of the series) will hold you spellbound. Written by Gene Wolfe, the undisputed (at least in my mind) best science fiction writer alive today, they tell the story of Latro, a Roman mercenary who roams through the pre-Christian ancient world experiencing rather marvelous things. Extremely well written and real pages-turners.

Letters from Lake Como (Eerdmans, 1994) and The End of the Modern World (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2001) by Romano Guardini. Although these two books by this late great 20th century theologian were written 30 years apart, I include them together because they should really be read consecutively. These prophetic works describe Guardini's vision of a future (actually today's present) in which secularism and Christianity battle for the soul of man.

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought
by Robert Louis Wilken (Yale University Press, 2005). A well written and informative book by this distinguished scholar of early Church history. A terrific read that offers excellent insights into the thinking of the early Church Fathers.

Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy by William Oddie (Oxford University Press,2009). Another wonderful biography of G. K. Chesterton, the great Catholic apologist and writer on all subjects. Chesterton is the only author I know who could write about absolutely anything and make it interesting to the reader. The reason is that everything interested Chesterton, and all good things delighted him. Oddie's biography covers only the first 32 years of Chesterton's life (1874-1908), but these were the years of his intellectual and spiritual formation. If you're a Chesterton fan, you'll love this book. If you're not a Chesterton fan, read this book and you will be.

Pride and Prejudice (Ignatius Critical Edition) by Jane Austen (Ignatius Press, 2007). This edition of (in my opinion) the best novel by the greatest woman novelist who ever lived also includes a number of excellent critical essays by some of today's most insightful Austen scholars. I read this book at least once yearly, a habit I highly recommend. You might as well begin during the summer months.

These should keep you busy. Should you, however, decide that my selections are not your cup of tea, here's a collection of summer reading lists that should give you plenty of alternative choices: Click here.

Enjoy the summer, except you folks in the Northeast who I understand will not have a summer this year.


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