Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Three book meme ...

I've been tagged (first time ever incidentally) by this lady and as I'd do almost anything she asks, here goes:

1. Three non-fiction books everyone should read:

Summa Theologica or at least some of it (or should that be Summa of it?). It's the single greatest work of the High Middle Ages and is one of the greatest achievements of Christian Theology in any age. (If the full text is too complicated, you can a sense of it from Walter Farrell's Companion to the Summa).

The Last Days of Socrates (one book in the Penguin edition but four dialogues in the original). The original philosophical martyr - even if it was only a natural truth that he died for, he still chose to die rather than betray it. The relevant Dialogues are all available here (courtesy of the kind people at Project Gutenberg).

Parkinson's Law or the Pursuit of Progress. This was originally written as a spoof but apply it to any large business or government organisation and see exactly how accurate it is! For those of us who are a bit cynical about the massive EU/EC bureaucracy and indeed the forthcoming (whether-we-like-it-or-not) EU Constitution, C. Northcote Parkinson assures us that as soon as the final grand flourishes are put to it, it'll collapse just like the League of Nations!

2. Three works of fiction that everyone should read:

Obviously The Lord of the Rings. Enough said!

After that, well, it'd have to be the Phantom Tollbooth. Read this and you'll never look at ordinary life in the same way again.

Finally for the intelligent but hopeless romantic there is nothing like Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. You get to the end wanting to know what happened to these people (who almost feel like friends rather than literary characters).

3. Three authors everyone should read:

G. K. Chesterton - the man who makes most sense out of the nonsense so rampant in his time and ours.

C. S. Lewis for children's fiction, Christian apologetic (even if Mere Christianity is a bit of a cop-out) and above all for the Discarded Image. It's good enough to rival Régine Pernoud's Pour en Finir avec le Moyen Age (or as the otherwise wonderful people at Ignatius Press call it ... well no I can't even say it myself!)

Ronald Arbuthnot Knox. I hate most of his fiction (Memoirs of the Future and his detective stories) but his Let Dons Delight is the best bit of academic fiction I've ever read. His apologetics is very good indeed, and Enthusiasm is about the best analysis going of the charismatic impulse in Western Christianity.

4. Three books that nobody should read:

The Catcher in the Rye. Self-indulgent nonsense. It bored me silly as a teenager, and when I tried it years later, it was even worse!

The Emperor of Ice Cream. Just awful. I felt like gouging my eyes out after being forced to read this garbage in school. This is another one I tried to re-read as an adult and found it worse than first time around.

Lastly for sheer unmitigated nonsense Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism and humanism takes the biscuit. Almost no-one ever reads it any more but that's no harm. It's so bad that it makes Richard Dawkins' published delusions look intelligent!


lowdenclear said...

I'll not run out and buy Catcher in the Rye then, hehe!

Patrick said...
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Patrick said...
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