Best Books of 2005
January 12, 2006 § 6 Comments
Okay, here goes…(in answer to a post on contramundum.org)
Silence by Shusaku Endo – this was a provocative and gripping book about a young priest who travels to Japan to find out the truth about his mentor’s death. But it is not a story for those who don’t want their previously secure Catholic faith turned upside down for a couple days. One of my dear professors and mentors, Fr. Shanley, recommended this one to me because I “could handle it”. It is very thoughtful, and not only asks too many moral questions to count, but also gives rise to questions about Catholicism in the East. If you haven’t read it, be sure to…but take Fr. Joe’s advice and make sure that you don’t leave it out around the house.
The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature by Leon Kass, M.D. – I’m sure this will raise a few eyebrows, but I read this one for Dr. White’s philosophy class last semester on Human Nature. It really is a beautiful book, and both introduces the core philosophical concepts of form, matter, and cause, and shows in a readable fashion how philosophy plays out in such mundane daily activities as eating. You will also get a brief run through the history of Western thought without knowing it. Many of you may have seen me reading this over Thanksgiving – I know there were some jokes about it among the younger ones. To be quite honest, this book raises the meal to a whole new level and you will never eat in the same way again.
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis – This is the second book in the trilogy, but my personal favorite. In it, Lewis muses on the question of whether the Garden of Eden could exist on another planet. Our unlikely hero, Professor Ransom, travels to Perelandra, where he must defend the “beautiful lady” from the too-intellectual wiles of the “snake” (Ransom’s arch-enemy of the first book). Some of the conversations between Ransom and the snake, fighting over the lady, literally took my breath away.
The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanoux – Tragic story of a young priest who only wants to do the right thing for his flock. It is definitely not an easy read; it is spiritually dense enough for Adoration reading if you wished to bring it along.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – My mother recommended this one – it is sad but I enjoyed it very much.
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott – It took me a while to get into this book (as with all of Scott’s novels) but once I did I enjoyed it immensely. The quality of Sir Walter Scott’s books lies in his remarkable talent for telling a colorful and exciting story about a man (here Rob Roy) without including the main character in the book (except for roughly four pages)!
Triumph and Trauma by Bernard Giesen – Okay, so I have a soft spot for sociological studies. This one was particularly fascinating: the first part deals with the concept of “hero” and how it plays out in the community, while the second part turns its attention to a similar examination of the Third Reich. The second part was interesting, but if you don’t have much time to spend on it, read the first part. I used this book a lot for the paper I consider one of the two “crowning achievements” of my college career.
The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin – Another through-provoking religious book. But this time it doesn’t deal with priests traveling to Asia or priests tragically beaten down by their communities. Instead the story focuses on the work and life of one Scottish priest, who has some “different” ways of bringing others to God. When I get the time I would love to re-read this one.
Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark – A quick and easy read, but fun. I have always thought of George Washington as a stuffy, cardboard-cutout character of history, but this really puts a human side on him.
On the Unity of the Intellect Against the Averriosts by St. Thomas Aquinas – Okay, so here is the part that is most likely boring for most, but I voraciously read this book last semester to prepare for a paper. If you prefer the very organized style of the Summa, the book On Human Nature contains most of the questions relevant to the subject of the unity of the intellect. Have you ever wondered whether the intellect is one for all (and we all have a piece of it) or if we each have separate intellects? This is definitely one of my favorite parts of Aquinas. And :::haha::: it just so happens that I wrote a paper on this one too, for Dr. White. So, if you don’t feel like reading Aquinas right now but still want to know his answer to question, read mine.
Distant Waters: The Fate of the North Atlantic Fishermen by William Warner – The end of this book left me feeling cold, windswept, and rather salty. William Warner once again masterfully takes the reader to another walk of life entirely (this time the life of North Atlantic fishermen). It is really too bad that Warner has written very few books. There are three others that I know of: Beautiful Swimmers (on those who make a living crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay), Into the Porcupine Cave (Warner’s own memoirs), and a book on the history of the Catholic Church in America.
James Herriot books and the Chronicles of Narnia – These deserve a mention, though I think everyone here has read them. I fear I must admit that I hadn’t touched them until the last few months, but now I have joined the ranks of those who love them.
There you go, my opinion for as much as it is worth! :-)