I posted a question at my Bob on Books Facebook page yesterday asking people to name one book they would like to read before they die. It seems that this is a popular topic. Here is a link to a Google search I did on the topic. It’s actually a worthwhile question to think about. We can read only so many books in a life, the length of which we have no way of knowing. One book available proposes a list of 1001 books.
Here’s my answer pared down to ten books. One of my criteria is that I’ve not read the book. The other is that I have the book already. That should warn you that it is probably a pretty idiosyncratic list. Don’t feel under any obligation to make it your list but use it simply as an example for doing this yourself.
- Charles Taylor, A Secular Age. It seems every other book I read references this book, and it seem a seminal work in helping us understand the time we are in.
- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism. There seems to be a sense that the horrors of Stalinism and Nazism can’t happen here. I think they can, and I’d like to know what Arendt, who wrote the classic work on this thinks.
- T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems and Plays. I have read poetry of Eliot since college and acquired this work several years ago.
- Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind. I’ve never read this and it was one of the books I inherited from my mom.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. Might be as close as we get to the reflections of a philosopher-king.
- Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans. Barth’s study of Romans rocked not only his world but the theological world around him.
- Ron Chernow, Washington. I’ve delighted in his biographies of Grant and Hamilton.
- Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (3 vols.). I bought this set from a retiring pastor 40 years ago. I suspect Hodge and I might differ on a few things, but his rigorous thought will make the argument worth it!
- Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity. This has been on my shelves only half as long, but this classic study of church history has been begging to be read.
- Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot and other stories. My mother loved Balzac as a young girl. I have her whole set of Balzac novels, that came from her father. I think I want to read these for what they might tell me about my mom before I pass them along.
It would not be hard to add to this list, and if you ask me another time, I might come up with a completely different one. But doing this makes me ask, why have I waited so long on a number of these? Perhaps the time has come to wait no longer.