What I’m Reading This Summer

800px-Melk_-_Abbey_-_LibraryThe time has come when college students return home to putz around the house and the country, doing what college students do best: waste massive amounts of time. Not that this is inherently bad, we have, after all, been spending the last few weeks killing ourselves during Hell Week and Finals Week. Not to mention the previous 14 weeks before these that simply involved constantly working on our assigned reading, papers, classes, and studying. So finally we are released and given a season in which nothing is due at any point, all we must do is sleep and eat. Now, as I mentioned in a previous post discussing the lesson I learned after visiting Arlington National Cemetery, this doesn’t exactly reflect an intentional lifestyle, does it?

To remedy this situation, I have assembled a list of books that (at the moment) should last me through June. Clearly, the list will be updated and extended, so there may very well be a part two to this post in the coming weeks. These books were not chosen with any sort of theme or context, they are simply books that I find interesting and have not had the opportunity to fully engage yet. Leading off the pack without further ado is…

#1: The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis Ok, I sort of cheated on this one. The fact is, I already read it on the first free night I’ve had since I arrived home. That being said, the book is absolutely fantastic. It illustrates different hypothetical responses recently deceased souls would have when given the chance to enter Heaven. Also, this is by Lewis, who cannot resist the urge to sum up any of his points in a witty and concise manner. A bonus to classical readers, there is a strong resemblance to the Divine Comedy in one of the relationships between two of the characters.

#2: Blandings Castle – P.G. Wodehouse For those of you previously acquainted with the author of the Jeeves and Wooster books, here is one of Wodehouse’s other works. It is just as funny, and involves a fresh set of characters that possess all the charm and diverse Bristish-ness of his other pieces. This one tells of the misadventures of the Earl of Emsworth, his sister Lady Constance, and his son, Frederick. No summer reading list is complete without some lighter stuff, and this fits the bill perfectly.

#3: Young Titan, the Making of Winston Churchill – Michael Shelden I actually have had no previous knowledge of the writer, though the first several chapters of this book that I eagerly devoured in Barnes & Noble were rather good. The book tells the tale of the early political life of Winston Churchill, who many simply think rose from nowhere to be the PM during the Blitz. Fact is, the man was the talk of England for the four decades leading up to World War II, and had a distinguished career in the military before that. This was a man who did everything and then some.

#4: John – R.C. Sproul This is one of Sproul’s biblical commentaries. I have already begun it, and the most striking feature is how personal it is. When the average person hears the term “biblical commentary”, their eyes sort of glaze over and they stop listening. However, Sproul does an excellent job of drawing out many of the intricate themes of this gospel and laying them out in a fashion that is quite accessible and beneficial.

#5: Les Miserables – Victor Hugo 24601, Marius, Fantine, Master of the House, Javert. Enough said.

#6: The Victors – Stephen Ambrose This book covers perhaps the most pervasive of events in my own personal catalog of important historical occurrences, the Second World War. Specifically, it is an amalgamation of a few of Ambrose’s earlier pieces on different aspects of the European Theater of Operations. Everything from D-Day to the final surrender of Germany is discussed with all of the brilliance of Ambrose’s analysis, which very well may rival that of Cornelius Ryan.

#7: Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis  I read this book as part of my assigned reading in high school, when I was but a freshman. Years later and life events later, this book returns to the forefront of my thought once again, this time with hopefully a more full understanding. Lewis, as previously mentioned, has a knack for concisely stating his points, and this work is no different. It is always a pleasure to read the perspective of men like Lewis on a subject as central as the practicality of the Christian faith.

#8: The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien First and foremost, let me say here and now that I hate, despise, and abominate fantasy writing. It is cheap and disgusting and ill-thought out. Relying on the lowest form of shallow sophistry by simply envisioning worlds where nothing really matters and the characters go gallivanting off in stupid adventures with made up creatures with names and “languages” almost as dumb and half-baked as the story line itself, this genre simply must stop cursing the world with its continued existence. HOWEVER, I would be charitable enough to give it some form of life-support if an endeavoring author was required to have a certain level of intelligence and linguistic ability that would perhaps result in interesting reading. Tolkien is just such a man, and is so good at what he does that his work is some of the best that I have read, and I shall continue to read it. Is it fantasy? Yes, technically. It is more like enlightened fiction, the result of one of the finest minds of the twentieth century crafting a tale that is far too nuanced and symbolic to really be on the same shelf as garbage like Stephanie Meyer.

Thus, I hope to make the best of this summer, intellectually-speaking. Reading is a gift, and so is free time. The combination should be deadly for the typical summer boredom and time-wasting.


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