Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A List

This is a book list I wrote for a friend. He asked me for a list of books he should read, and I am happy to oblige. I picked these out specifically for him and what he would like. I've left it as I wrote it for him with annotations explaining some authors, books, and ideas.

Fiction (In no particular order)

A Painted House. John Grisham (The best novel Grisham's written.)

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy (One of the most fun novels I have ever read. Everyone I know who has read it, loves it.)

Frederick Buechner (His nonfiction is his best writing, but he is well-known and respected for his fiction. You would probably like both Godric and Lion Country.)

Holes, Louis Sachar (You'll find this in the young adult section, but it's still great.)

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (I don't usually like fantasy novels, but this is classic.)

These are some novelists that you can read just about anything they've written and enjoy. I've noticed that almost all of these authors lived and died in the 1900's, only a few are still alive.

Too Late the Phalarope and Cry, The Beloved Country, Alan Paton (Everything he wrote is awesome. He was a South African and set everything set in that apartheid-torn country.)

My Name is Asher Lev. Chaim Potok (I love this novel. He was a Jewish Rabbi who wrote some really cool novels. I haven't read any of his short stories yet.)

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest J. Gaines (A Louisiana writer. He understands the South perfectly.)

Walking Across Egypt, Clyde Edgerton

Silence, Shusaku Endo (Endo is considered one of the greatest Japanese writers ever, which is interesting because he was one of the few Japanese Catholics and he wrote about Catholic ideas in his novels. This is the best I've read by him.)

Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

Vipers’ Tangle, Francois Mauriac

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and Other Stories. F. Scott Fitzgerald (He's one of my favorite short story writers. 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz' is my favorite short story ever.)

Mystery and Manners, The Complete Stories, Flannery O'Connor (She's known as a master at the short story form, but I really liked Manners too.)

The Writing Life, Holy the Firm. Annie Dillard (Two short non-fiction meditations.)

Before We Get Started, Bret Lott (This is a memoir of what writing is like for him. He's a great short story writer, a great nonfiction writer, and a solid novelist.)

Of Mice and Men. John Steinbeck (This is a really cool story you would like.)


Most of these interested me in and helped me figure out what life is about—what the big questions are and how to start answering them. Some are written by Christians, one was written by a Jewish Holocaust survivor, another by a French atheist. Not all of them helped me to the answers; I needed some of them to show me the questions first. Roadtrip Nation and Garber's book helped me see how the answers affect everything else.

The Lotus and the Cross, Ravi Zacharias (I'd forgotten about this book, until I saw it on a list of books I read years ago. It's an imaginary conversation between Buddha, Jesus, and an Asian prostitute dying of AIDS. The premise is that they go on a boat ride and just talk. The author is a Christian, but he wrote the book in conversation with Buddhist monks and genuinely presents what Buddhism is about.)

The Plague, Albert Camus (This is a novel by a Frenchman.)

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl (A Jewish Holocaust survivor and psychologist.)

Roadtrip Nation, Mike Marriner and Nathan Gebhard with Joanne Gordon (This is a series of interviews that two college friends did on a road trip. They interviewed well-known business leaders, artists, and even a lobsterman and some mechanics about the journeys they took through life. This is really cool.)

The Fabric of Faithfulness, Steven Garber (This is a non-fiction book about what the college years are really about and how you decide in them what your life will be about. Garber draws from philosophy, theology, movies, fiction, history, and personal stories. A pretty cool book.)

Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose. Brian J. Mahan

Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey

The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love, St. Augustine

Travel/Adventure Writing

Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl

Into The Wild, Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild is an awesome travel biography about a man who died in the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer writes about more than just the story at hand. He writes about everybody's dreams, fears, plans, and limits.)

Random Nonfiction

In Cold Blood. Truman Capote (This is one of the most influential non-fiction books of the last century—at least for writers. It was the first 'non-fiction novel.' Journalists still look to Capote to learn how to write. Two movies were just made about his life.)

The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Right now, I'm reading mythology and Greek classical authors along with the Church Fathers so that I understand Western thought, Literature, and Christian Theology better.

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