Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Reading Ideas

Though I am a bit late, I decided I would offer some ideas for summer reading for anyone interested. I comment on books on bible and theology here often, so this list focuses elsewhere. I have in mind here primarily history and fiction that I have read in 2007-2008 and thought was particularly enjoyable. These are books which I thought were both good and fun to read. I have said before here that I think it is important for pastors to read good fiction and history for various reasons (e.g. intellectual stimulation, awareness, reading good literature helps you to be a better interpreter).

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy- I had seen a movie version of this as a kid, but really enjoyed reading the book earlier this year. It is a great adventure also with an interesting discussion of marriage. I am now eager to read one of the sequels.

The Secret Trial of Robert E Lee, Thomas Fleming- This is counterfactual history, i.e. asking “What if this had happened?” Fleming is a highly respected historian and provides a fascinating glimpse into the time just after the end of the Civil War.

What If?, ed. Robert Cowley (any volume)- Cowley has now edited several volumes in this series and I have read or listened to everyone I am aware of. The books contain essays from respected historians as they consider what might have happened if significant points of history had gone differently. I find this a fun way to learn history, and seeing how things could have so easily gone differently is a great reminder of the doctrine of providence.

God in the Whirlwind, Tim Ellsworth- This is a new book with stories of people involved in the tornado that hit Union University in February. Tim has done a good job capturing these stories making this a compelling read.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, & Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, Anne Rice- These are the first two volumes in Rice’s historical novels on the life of Christ. They are fiction, so Rice makes her guesses and fills in blanks, but she has clearly done her homework. Also, unlike many others, she takes the supernatural very seriously. Her Catholic presuppositions are also clear in places.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, R. L. Stevenson- Last year I finally read the book and discovered the adaptations I had seen could not compare. It is a compelling story with searching implications for our own struggle with sin.

The Campaign that Won America: The Story of Yorktown, Burke Davis- A very engaging account of this crucial campaign. Davis tells history as a story and does it well.

Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry, David J. Vaughan- This is a fascinating biography of this key character with significant attention to his Christian faith.

Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman, Don Higginbotham- The university press publisher might seem intimidating, but this was a good read about a great Revolutionary War hero that is under appreciated.

How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, Peter Robinson- A fun read about lessons a young man drew from working with Reagan.

Reagan in His Own Voice- There is a print edition of this, but the audio is best because you can hear these early radio addresses as they were first given. Vintage stuff on limited government and freedom.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a bit more challenging of a read, Thomas Sowell’s The Quest Cosmic Justice is an excellent analysis of how misguided good intentions are creating significant trouble in economics and politics. I think this is must reading for considering our current political, cultural and ethical situation.

5 comments:

Joel Maners said...

No mention of The Shack?? Hmmmm.

;)

Tim Ellsworth said...

"The Scarlet Pimpernel" is fantastic. I read it for the first time my freshman year of high school, then read it again a few years later.

Thanks for the plug on "God in the Whirlwind."

Ray Van Neste said...

You're right Joel! Too many good books to bother with lesser ones. :)

Grace Baptist Church, Somerset, KY said...

Ray, it is good to find another person who appreciates "The Scarlet Pimpernel." I have 4 different versions of the movie, the book, and saw the Broadway musical production twice. As for movies, I like the 1984 version with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymore best.

Also it always does my heart good to see anyone promoting books and/or articles by Thomas Sowell. IMHO the clearest thinker on cultural issues in America today.

Bill Haynes

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks Bill.
Did you now that the whole series of Scarlet Pimpernel books is avialable online? Here is the link:
http://www.blakeneymanor.com/series.html