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

1776, David McCullough imageSomeone 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.



    • thanks cellenbogen for reading and commenting. my other lists are earlier blogs, so you can get them right here off the blog page. later this morning i will post the list with links, so if you just want to check back for that you can. if you like well-researched history, you will love 1776.

  1. I also will get to 1776 some day, and I hear equally good things about his biography of John Adams. Books that stand out to me, but that don’t necessarily fit in a category, are two: “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Walter Pirsig. Kuhn’s book, in my opinion, is actually about faith, what it means to believe in some system of understanding the universe, and it applies to either scientific or spiritual systems. I thought it gave a lot of insight into the nature of belief. Not riveting unless you are into science, but important. Pirsig’s book, to my mind, is actually about the relationship between truth – scientific truth – and beauty. The scientists seem to have a monopoly on truth and the spiritually inclined seem to have a monopoly on beauty, and this is one man’s auto-biography of wandering between the two worlds. Nothing explicitly Christian about either of these books but they are very relevant to us. Another book I have not finished reading yet – it is long and pretty difficult – is “Godel, Escher, Bach” by Douglas Hofstadter; technical and witty and altogether one of a kind.

    • carroll, i really appreciate these scientific gems. i may pick up the structure of scientific revolutions sometime. i’ve heard about it from other people as well. thanks for the recommendations and for your thoughtful words.

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