Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meme: Must read books

I've been tagged by Fr. Dwight Longenecker of Standing On My Head for a meme on my list of must read books, so here it goes.

Three works of non-fiction everyone should read:

This is going to be tough! Only 3? Yikes. I assume the Bible is not up for consideration cos that one's a must =) So, ok, here's 3 non-fiction books (or series) that you've really got to read.

The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad - Harrison Salisbury recounts the siege of Leningrad and the brutality of the Nazis, the incompetence of Stalin and the Soviet High Command and above all, the heroism of its defenders amidst the horrors of war.

Jaroslav Pelikan's the Christian Tradition - Pelikan's magnum opus on the story of the development of the Christian Church and Christian thought from the time of the Apostles downwards.

Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars - A revealing and masterful exposition of the suppression of the Catholic faith in England under the regime of Henry VIII and his successors where centuries of faith was wiped out and made illegal. Dispels a lot of myths of the state of Catholicism in the middle ages and reminds me of the suppression of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the former Soviet Union. This book also gave me a background to imagine the atmosphere of England in Evelyn Waugh's biography of St. Edmund Campion .

Three works of fiction everyone should read:

The Lord of the Rings - Tolkien's masterpiece which needs no introduction. This book was voted the best literary work in the English language this century. I'd recommend it's prequels, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion as well. Great stuff which I find myself coming back to again and again.

A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin's epic, which, although it current remains unfinished, has all the markings of a truly great tale which I find myself reading and re-reading in an attempt to keep track of the complex plots and characters as I wait for the fifth instalment to come out. It's kinda like waiting for the motu proprio, You know it's there and you know it has to come out some time but just where the heck is it?

Sir Nigel - Most of us know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of that most logical and astute of detectives, Sherlock Holmes. But Doyle also wrote historical fiction and this book, which recounts the childhood and youth of Sir Nigel, the Commander of the White Company is truly a masterpiece, capturing beautifully the atmosphere, glory, chivalry and utter illogic of the high middle ages. A true 'underdog done good' tale to thrill children of all ages. With pirates and knights and kings and princes, what more can a man want? I've linked the text from Project Gutenberg as it has no American copyright.

Three authors everyone should read:

Peter Kreeft - A convert, Catholic apologist and philosopher extraordinaire. You can check out some of his writings here. His handbook of Christian Apologetics, co-written with Ronald Tacelli SJ has been describes as a Summa Apologia, the same in genus if not in genius with Aquinas' Summa. Check out the 20 arguments for the existence of God. Here's a complete bibliography.

JRR Tolkien - Again, he's Tolkien. Do you really need a reason? Silmarillion, Hobbit, LOTR, the Histories of Middle Earth series and most recently, the Children of Hurin. Everything's great.

Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, which chronicles the (mis)adventures of Calvin, an imaginative six-year old boy, and Hobbes, his energetic and sardonic—albeit stuffed—tiger.

Three books no one should read:

I'm not sure whether or not to include the Koran here. On one hand, I think people should read it so they know what it actually says. On the other hand, I think the book should have never been written. So maybe I wont include it. Instead, I'm going to go with this one:

Jack Chick's Anti-Catholic tracts (I have the whole set) such as the Death Cookie (which intimates that Satan himself instituted the Eucharist), Why is Mary Crying, Last Rites, Are Roman Catholics Christians?, etc. Here's the Wikipedia entry on Jack Chick.

The Da Vinci Code.

Tim LaHaye's Left Behind Series.

I'm going to tag Mark of Exsurge Domine, Qtommer Joshua, Paul of Deo Juvante, Fr. Daren Zenhle of Servant and Steward and Joee.

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