book lists

JT recently linked to a John Mark Reynolds list of books that every college student should read. I thought the list was great, and seeing as how I went to UNLV, I wasn’t required to read a single one. Well actually, I did read most of the Bible in my Bible as lit class. I wanted to write a short list of books a 20-something person trying to be missional should read, but before that I wanted to note how many of those books that John Mark listed I have actually read, plan on reading, or would rather play flag football on the I-15 than read.

First, every college student should read the English Bible from cover to cover.
YES. By the way, you know you’re dealing with a scholar when he prefaces “Bible” with “English”

In order to save time and sapce, I’ll put in bold what I’ve read, and make comments as necesssary.

Iliad, Odyssey, History of the Peloponnesian War, Ethics (Aristotle), Metaphysics (Aristotle), Meno, Republic, Timaeus, Oedipus Rex, Bacchae, Orestia, On Friendship and On Duties (Cicero), Aeneid, Meditations, History of the Church (Eusebius), Confessions, City of God (I know, I’m trying to plant a church and I haven’t read these. I must really trust Jesus.) Histories (Tacitus), Consolation of Philosophy, Summa Theologica (selections!), Divine Comedy, Canterbury Tales, The Prince, The Institutes (selections from Calvin), Fairy Queen, Shakespeare (Hamlet, Lear, As You Like It, Henry V, Julius Caesar), Fairy Queen (at least Book I), Leviathan, Second Treatise on Government, Pensees.

Some notes. All these? Really? No significant scholarly books have been written since Pascal?

Ten Works of You Should Read to be Civilized I would say chickified, not civilized here:

1-3. Some poetry by Donne, Blake, Wordsworth, and Dickenson (counts as 3!)
Does it make me uncivilized if I don’t know who some of these poets are based on last name alone. By the way, since when does reading poetry make one civilized? I freaking hate poetry, and I make no apologies
4. Pride and Prejudice
Normally, watching the movie doesn’t count. But when its a freaking eight hour miniseries we can make an exception. And yes I just admitted to watching the eight hour miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. I’ll turn in my man card at the end of the day
5. Tale of Two Cities
I can’t stand Dicken’s. What a long winded blowhard. And yes I watched a lot of TV growing up
6. Jane Eyre
7. Moby Dick
8. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
9. Brothers Karamazov
Maybe, one day I will read this. I kind of feel guilty that I’ve never read any Dostoyevsky. This actually makes me feel uncivilized
10. Anna Karenina

Modern Top 10 (US student):

1. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

2. Federalist Papers
3. Reflections on the Revolution in France
4. Wealth of Nations
5. Communist Manifesto
6. Origin of Species
7. On the Genealogy of Morals
8. Civilization and Its Discontents
9. No Exit
10. Lincoln’s speeches (especially Gettysburg, which should be memorized, and the Second Inaugural) Alright, that statement was effing crazy

This list actually convicted me more than any. I really should bust a few of these out. Damn you UNLV, I shouldn’t have to supplement my degree later. I say that like I would have read them if they made me. One other gripe about the list. NO MODERN AMERICAN LITTERATURE. No Bradbury, Orwell, Steele, or Blume. Remember, if we are to be civilized, it must be within our civilization.

Alright, for the twenty something missional list

English Bible, not necessarily from cover to cover, without verse or chapter numbers
cover to cover could be counterproductive, also reading without verse or chapter numbers helps avoid systematic pitfalls, as well as helping to see the text in a meta-narrative way
The Shaping of Things to Come, or Exiles, or The Forgotten Ways
for all the emerging garbage out there, these guys shine for their commitment to Christ-centered missional thinking. I don’t agree with everything, but man do they have a high respect for the person and work of Jesus determining our mission
A Generous Orthodoxy
know what you’re up against
Desiring God, or Knowing God, or The Pleasures of God
good, God-glorifying theology never hurt
Sex, Drugs, and Coco-Puffs
Nothing will challenge you, and help you understand the minds of our generation better than Chuck Klosterman. If you haven’t read Klosterman, your are misisonally deficient.

Ryan, if you have a short list, or want to comment in a post, please feel free. Anyone, if you want to give your five in the comment box please feel free.

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3 Responses

  1. Right on about Dickens. Why write when you can write too damn much? I read a condensed version of Oliver Twist, and only sheer refusal to back down got me through.

    I’ll offer three: “Why I Am Not a Christian” by Bertrand Russell. This is the source for SO MANY of the pop-culture arguments against the existence of God. It is the twentieth century source document for sneering atheism. But he also has a couple of criticisms that are dead-on…enough to make you cringe while you read. For example, his point about how the church separated out the soul from the body, and how it has led to social irresponsibility from the church because the physical world has come to symbolize evil. Sad, but true.

    “In a Dark Wood” by Alston Chase. A must read to understand the philosphical underpinnings and economic consequences of radical environmentalism. Written by an environmentalist, it highlights the worldview of deep ecology that informs much environmental policy, and it examines how if not restrained and guided by common sense, the environmental movement can have devastating effects not only on industry, but also the poor and working class, and the environement itself. An AWESOME book to better understand the issues.

    Anything by GK Chesterton. I see your CS and raise you a GK…he’s like Lewis’ smarter older brother. Funny and brilliant.

  2. The only Chesterton I have read was “Orthodoxy” and “The Man Who was Thursday.”

    “Orthodoxy” – made me feel stupid.
    “The Man Who was Thursday” was incredible

    Isn’t there a dang good bio on GKC? Anyone know who wrote it?

    Also, Adam, I am sure Josiah would find my view of literature repulsing, but due to his kindness, never tell me such.

  3. Thank You

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