Every year, at one season or another, some well-intentioned soul comes up with a list of books that they think everyone should read.
Being a well-intentioned soul myself (and a former librarian), I couldn’t resist adding my own list to the pile.
Last spring my wife and I taught a literature class for the homeschool group we belong to, Regina Caeli. The focus of our choices was the concept of divine mercy.
Jenna chose books in which divine mercy permeated the writing and fairly leapt off the page: Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place,” an amazing true story about her horrifying experience in World War II, and A.J. Cronin’s “Keys of the Kingdom,” about a priest setting up a mission in China and learning tolerance and compassion.
My choices, a little more off-beat, challenged the reader to find the concept of divine mercy. These, and a few other titles, are my recommendations for anytime reading.
Shane, by Jack Schaefer – The second-best western I’ve ever read. Very little gunplay, but with incredible dramatic tension, especially between two men and a stump! The teens in my group loved this book. They were especially impressed by Shane’s compassion at a key moment in the book.
War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells – Everybody knows the story, but have you ever read it? “Rule Britannia!” comes crashing down, saved in the end by… If you don’t know, then you haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to spill the microbes here (oops!).
A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. – An oddly reassuring book that shows that the Catholic church will endure, regardless of the megatonage of nuclear weapons that obliterate civilization. The smartest and most Catholic science fiction book ever written.
The Smiling Country, by Elmer Kelton – My own personal favorite work of fiction. A little rough around the edges, but the best western I’ve ever read. An aging cowboy in the prettiest part of Texas dealing with the intrusion of internal combustion machines. An amazing cast of characters (his best friend’s name is Snort Yarnell), a touching and realistic romance, and no gunplay. Guys: the end will make you cry, and that’s a good thing. Wives: buy this book for your husband.
Yeah, I used to be a librarian. But that didn’t keep me from liking good books.