I’ve thought long and hard about this list.
Firstly, I’d like to commend the works of C.S. Lewis. I am a Lewisian. The more I learn about him, his life, thought, and motivations, the more I am amazed. If you haven’t read any of his works, I’d commend any of the following.
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength
- Mere Christianity
- The Great Divorce
- Til We Have Faces
- The Four Loves
Additionally, what has helped grow my appreciation for Lewis are these two, excellent reads: The Narnian by Alan Jacobs and Planet Narnia by Michael Ward
I also, as may not surprise you, am a great fan of J.R.R. Tolkein. I first made it through the Lord of the Rings the summer after Jennifer and I were married. We were so poor then, we couldn’t afford anything but a library card. That first summer, in between teaching jobs, we read the Lord of Rings to each other. I’ve read it several times since and my affection grows. If you’ve never read it, this is the summer to start. Like my affection for Lewis, my appreciation has grown the more I learn about the author. Tom Shippey has written an excellent book on Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings called J.R.R. Tolkein: Author of the Century.
I’ve mentioned several times the need for our imaginations to be baptized. George MacDonald’s
The Curate’s Awakening and The Lady’s Confession as well as Elizabeth Prentis’ Stepping Heavenward are delightful and challenging reads. Also, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is the most widely printed book in English other than the Bible. Bunyan’s allegorical tale of Christian’s journey to the Celestial City is full of wisdom and insight in the Christian life and experience.
Most of the works I’ve mentioned so far have been primarily the work of Christian authors about Christian topics and themes. If non-fiction is more your preference, I would recommend the following: John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin, J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
There are a couple of expressly fictional works which I think would make a delightful summer read: Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (one for which I’ve already made my case), Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander–if you’ve not tried it, you need to take a stab at this multi-volumn work which takes place during the Napoleonic Wars.
There are some who may be confounded by it, but if you have yet to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, you’ve missed out. Before you speak to me about the evil’s of a book about magic, please read Alan Jacob’s article on Harry Potter’s Magic. I’d be happy to discuss the issues over a cup of coffee or a meal.
Lastly, an Honorable Mention goes to Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side. I was thoroughly captivated and won-over by Lewis’ report on the development of a blue-chip, left tackle named Michael Oher who will likely go as a first-round draft pick today. If you like a good story AND football. This will be an excellent summer read.
I’m curious as to what you think. Comment or drop me a note about your experiences and thoughts. Happy reading.