It is time to wrap this up. I’ve posted twelve different blogs covering a variety of genres with my top three books in each genre. But before we leave it completely, I’d like to throw in one more category that I call “Honorable Mention.” These are three books that didn’t make it into any of the top three, but which I can’t leave without saying something.
1776, David McCullough
Someone mentioned McCullough’s biography of Truman earlier, and I promised them that he was on the list somewhere. Well, this is it, but not for Truman. I liked Truman, but I think 1776 is a superior work of history and analysis. No one writes as clearly and to the point as McCullough. He deals so much with primary sources in the work that we forget he is writing about events two-hundred and thirty years ago or more, which reminds us that he is not only a great communicator (His voice is awesome too–he narrates for PBS and narrated the great Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War) but a great historian.
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
This novel is the most subtly breathtaking novel I think I’ve ever read. About a third of the way in you begin to think you love these characters, by half way in you think these people are your family, and then as you finish you identify that they are really you.
Someone in a comment thread mentioned this book in the contemporary fiction category. It could have fit there, but it could have also fit in the theology category too. Robinson is a committed Calvinist, and I love the book in spite of that.
The Book of Common Prayer
There might be no more important book in the English language than the Book of Common Prayer. I could have included it in my opening list of influential books or in theology. I think more Protestants, in public worship and in private devotions, would do very well to employ the BCP regularly. The prayers are beautiful, the liturgy is moving, and the lectionary is pivotal to well-rounded Bible reading. I simply can’t imagine my life without the BCP in it. One of my particular favorites is this confession of sin:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
I will likely post a final document to this that is just a list with links later today or over the weekend, just to tidy things up. I’ve enjoyed this little adventure, and I hope you have too, but that ‘s a wrap.
I’d love to hear what other books you think are important or lovable but somehow haven’t made our list, or anytime you want drop a reading recommendation. I love those.