Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Meme 5/2007

Well, it's a coincidence that I built a new bookcase yesterday, and started reshelving my collection, and I read Kasia's book meme over at Clam Rampant. So, here we go:

Three works of non-fiction everyone should read:

1- The Imitation of Christ, by Tomas à Kempis, is more a guide to monastic living and discipline. But, it is full of exhortations to holiness and temperance that are applicable, and perhaps necessary, to maintain a Christ-centered perspective amid this materialist society we live in.

2- In My Own Words, by Mother Teresa, is a great study in charity and love of Christ through love of the poor. Her gentle reminders are, at times, a scourge to the modern, complacent christian conscience. Do we see Christ in the poor? What have we done for Him today?

3- Kasia had listed, as many others would, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I would agree, it's a great book. I would also add The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as another excellent resource. Be wary of cheap grace.

Three works of fiction everyone should read:

1- The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein are the iconic tomes of fantasy writing, and touch on all the classic themes of love, sacrifice, courage, and hope. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, are also great, and also listed by Kasia.

2- Brother Elijah, by Michael O'Brien, is an apocalyptic novel which, unlike Jack Chick tracts, doesn't paint the Pope to be the Antichrist. Fancy that, a non-fundamentalist version of the apocalypse.

3- A Brave New World by Aldus Huxley is a novel about a future utopia/dystopia. The citizens, pacified by mindless leisure, free sex and intoxication substances, tolerate totalitarian control and a rigid caste system. It's scary how the scenario is plausible, given our current lust for recreation and self-centered entertainment.

Three authors everyone should read:

1- Like the throngs of others, I'd say C.S. Lewis, for all the obvious and much rehashed reasons. He's got a great insight into living christianity.

2- Thomas Merton, but with a couple caveats. His earlier writings are full of inspiring observations and solid christian meditations. Later in his life, he persued and wrote much about his fascination with Buddhist meditation. These later writings were the springboard for many syncretist experiments by liberal catholics, trying to combine Buddhism and Catholicism. As the goals are diametrically opposed, many of these catholics ended up being more Buddhist than Catholic.

3- Many would list G. K. Chesterton, but I haven't read enough of his work to read give him any enthusiastic endorsement. I'd have to say Pope John Paul II.

Three books no one should read:

1- Altas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's epic Objectivist tirade, will do more to ruin one's sense of charity more than anything else. While I share her distaste for socialism, the alternative she posits it equally evil.

2- Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. "Why believe in someone else (God, Jesus) when you can believe in youself?!" No thanks.

3- Beyond Good and Evil Freidrich Nietzsche.

I'd also like to recommend a couple children's books that anyone would find fun and amusing. Backbeard and the Birthday Suit by Matt McElligott and Grumblebunny by Bob Hartman and David H. Clark. Check them out at your local public library. Cheers.


The Unseen One said...

I agree about Brave New World. Excellent book.

Atlas Shrugged was also a good book, but I agree, her stances against Christianity, charity, and for promiscuity are ill-conceived.

As for Dianetics, it is interesting that that same quote is the message of the Satanic bible.

Dad29 said...

With all due respect, you might consider Another Sort of Learning, by Fr. J. Schall

Non-fiction, short, easy to read, and a treasure.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

Unseen, it's not a quote, it's my summation of the philosophy.

Dad29, I'm always looking for something new to read, so there's no disrespect taken, capice?

Rod Maingot said...

I'd be interested to hear how you find Ayn Rand's philosophy evil. How can the complete absence of force in the relations between men be described as evil? That is the essence of Ms. Rand's philosophy.

Kasia said...

Interesting choices!

I've tried a couple of times to read Atlas Shrugged. While I like some elements of Rand's writing style, her characters always put me off. I've never managed to slog more than about a quarter of the way through the book.

The Imitation of Christ is on my summer reading list, when I also hope to finish Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper, and a few others I've been working on. Glad to have another recommendation of it; I'll let you know what I thought when I finish it, eh?