A recent World magazine challenges readers to read only one book at a time to help with focus, absorption of ideas, and reflection. Consider setting a reading goal for 2023 to help move you toward meditation on great ideas and great books; this may necessitate a decreased time with our screens (also a good goal for all of us!). The following are some of my tops reads from this past year.
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred Taylor– Finding a weakness in this book is akin to finding a flaw in the Hope Diamond. Tense conflict, a blend of both endearing and detestable characters, and redemptive theme make this children’s book worth reading for all ages. It’s easy to make a case this is the best Newbery winner of all time, and arguably the greatest children’s book ever written.
2. Gospel Worship, Jeremiah Burroughs – Reading the Puritans always results in increased understanding of Scripture, heightened awareness of one’s own sin, and encouragement to pursue holiness and sanctification. Few things would revolutionize the church more than a steady diet of reading and meditating on the writing of the Puritans.
3. Return of the God Hypothesis, Stephen Meyer – A lengthy and sometimes complicated look at the problems with evolutionary theory. “Scientists have become increasingly…aware that there is at least one appearance of design in biology that has not been explained by natural selection or any other purely naturalistic mechanism: the information present in even the simplest living cells.”
4. The Baseball 100, Joe Posnanski – Posnanski dives deep into the history of players and statistics, making arguments that every informed reader can incessantly debate. Nearly the length of Moby Dick, only serious fans can justify the time investment required for this book.
5. Battle for the American Mind, Pete Hegseth and David Goodwin – The authors provide an irrefutable apology for fleeing the public schools and pursuing a robust Christian, if not classical, education for their children. Here’s to an educational revolution!
6. Beowulf, Author unknown – According to J.R.R Tolkien, Beowulf is “the most successful Old English poem because in it the elements, language, metre, theme, and structure are all most nearly in harmony.” This is even better when listened to by a reader gifted with strong cadence and rhythm.
7. Rethinking Discipleship, Alan Pue – Alan is a friend of the school, having consulted and helped our board and admin team over the years. This is a great book for parents who view public school a viable option. Pue writes, “When the apostle Paul instructs parents to ‘bring up their children in the paideia of Christ,’ that is not a suggestion. It is a mandate.” Tough but necessary words.
8. Rembrandt’s Themes, Richard Verdi– An artistic genius, Rembrandt excelled in portraiture, genre subjects, landscape and (on occasion) even still life – often with biblical themes. The author deftly points the reader to minor details that the casual observer misses in Rembrandt’s works.
9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury – The prophetic Bradbury highlights the devastating effects of a culture absent of imagination, ideas, poetry, and books. Incessant entertainment leads to an emaciated and lifeless dystopia ruled by despots, and the populous with deadened senses do nothing but submit.
10. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder – Full of adventure, fascinating history, virtuous characters, and family fidelity. Those who view the series as culturally insensitive have either not read the books or have allowed historical revisionism to cloud perspective on how to read literature.