Early Western Civilization midterm exam
The following is a midterm exam that I gave to my Early Western Civilization students several years ago. How would you have performed on it?
1. What date does Susan Wise Bauer give as the approximate date for the origin of written history?
a. 300 AD
b. 300 BC
c. 3000 BC
d. 3300 BC
e. 8,000 BC
2. True or False: According to Bauer, when the Sumerian flood story was first translated, most historians assumed that the Genesis account was derived from it, but further study of the differences between the two stories suggests that they are far more likely to have arisen separately from the same source event.
3. True or False: Mesopotamia means the land “between the rivers.”
4. True or False: Mesopotamia is the cradle of western civilization.
5. True or False: Ionia is the cradle of western philosophy.
6. Which of the following was NOT an Egyptian king?
A. Scorpion King
b. Raging Catfish
7. The Rosetta Stone played a role in (select one)
a. David slaying Goliath
b. Proving the large extent of the Hittite kingdom
c. God inscribing the Ten Commandments
d. Deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs
e. Preservation of the Epic of Gilgamesh
8. Place the following empires in the correct order
b. Medes & Persians
9. Match the following with the most appropriate location of origin. Each answer will be used only once.
a. Epic of Gilgamesh
b. Code of Hammurabi
c. Homeric Poems
[possible answers: Babylon, Ionia, Sumer]
10. Match the definitions with the best choice of terms from the list below
a. The practice of a king assuming the identity of his predecessor
b. Refers to the name which God gives to himself
c. Using names familiar to contemporary readers rather than names in use during the historical past.
d. A human figure with the face of a bull and imprisoned in the Labyrinth
e. A foot soldier
f. Philosophy of the “living stuff”
[List of possible answers: 1. Positional succession, 2. Hoplite, 3. Anachronism, 4. Minotaur, 5. Hylozoism, 6. Tetragrammaton]
11. True of False: It would have been impossible for the Egyptians to have built the pyramids given their technological abilities. The only reasonable answer is that aliens came through a Stargate and used an energy coil called the “Caduceus Coil” to tap into the planetary energy grid in order to levitate the blocks into place.
12. Place the following in correct order, earliest to latest.
13. The birth story of which of the following is very similar to that of Moses’?
14. Place the following in the correct order
e. Tower of Babylon
g. Period of the Judges
i. Divided Kingdom
j. Babylonian captivity
15. True of False: The Hyksos once ruled in Persia.
16. True or False: The legend of the Minotaur is an example of one of the Greek myths which has been proven to be a very precise description of an actual event.
17. True of False: The exodus of the Hebrews shows up nowhere in the Egyptian records.
18. True or false: The Egyptians did not write.
19. True or false: The Philistines kept the Israelites in a position of military inferiority by forbidding them to manufacture any sort of iron tools.
20. True or False: There was no country called Phoenicia.
21. True or False: Jeroboam was Solomon’s son.
22. True or False: Around 721 BC Sargon II wiped the political state of Israel off the map, and removed large numbers of Israelites from their homeland all the way over to the territory of the Medes. This resulted in the despised mix of peoples that the Jews later called Samaritans.
23. Match the following leaders with the location of their rule.
e. Cyrus the Great
[Possible answers: Babylon, Medes & Persians, Judah, Egypt, Assyria]
24. Match the following gods (God) with their followers.
[Possible answers: Egypt, Babylon, Hebrews]
25. True or False: The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are two of the Seven Wonders of the World.
26. True or False: The war between the Greeks and Persians was central to the life of the Greeks, but receives barely a mention in Persian histories.
27. True or False: The Delian League and the Peloponnesian League were manifestations of the rivalry between Athens and Sparta.
28. Which of the following are historians upon which Bauer relies for material. (Select all that apply)
29. True or false: One characteristic of Orphism is that by ritual purifications and an ascetic life they hoped to win release from the body and return to the company of the gods.
30. The logic of which philosopher was the starting-point for both Platonic dialectic and Aristotelian logic.
e. Tyrannosaurus Rex
31. The Logos is most often associated with which of the following philosophers?
e. Latissimus Dorsi
32. Complete the sentences by filling in the blank spaces with the correct answer from the list provided below.
a. __________ influenced Plato more than any other philosopher. Important elements passed into Plato’s thought from his predecessors which through him have influenced the later development of European philosophy.
b. From the __________ Plato derives much of his conception of the matter of the physical universe.
c. From the __________ comes the essence of Plato’s doctrine of the nature and destiny of the soul, his insistence on eternal form and order as the supremely important reality and proper object of the intellect, and the emphasis in his though on mathematics and astronomy.
d. From __________ he gits his vision of the transitorinesss of all sensible things and the flux of the material world.
e. __________ and the Eleatics leave him a clear though inadequate vision of eternal being, the beginnings of logical reasoning, and a logical problem to solve.
[Possible answers: 1. Heraclitus, 2. Parmenides, 3. Pythagoreans, 4. Milesians, 5. Socrates]
33. Match the following statements about “pleasure” with the school it most accurately depicts.
a. “As a humanist agnostic I enjoy pleasure when it is practical as part of a successful civilized human life.”
b. “I can’t really know if pleasure is good or bad, but I have an opinion about it.
c. “I enjoy my pleasure in public and could care less what you think about it.”
d. “It is our feelings of pain and pleasure which are the test by which we determine what is bad and good for us.”
e. “Pleasure? I am utterly indifferent to all external things. I am free from all passion, emotion, and affections.”
[Possible answers: 1. Stoicism, 2. Cynicism, 3. Sophism, 4. Skepticism, 5. Hedonism]
34. True or False: Socrates believed that the first and foremost business of man was care of the soul.
35. True or False: Plato was not very systematic and it is often difficult to find out his solution to the problem he raises.
36. True or False: Plato founded the Lyceum.
37. True or False: Aristotle believed that there exists a world of eternal realities, “Forms” or “Ideas” that are entirely separate from the world our senses perceive, and knowable only by pure intellect.
38. True or False: Plato did not believe in the soul’s pre-existence, but did believe that it could not be extinguished.
39. Place the following in chronological order;
a. John the Baptist
c. David, son of Jesse
e. Alexander the Great
40. True or False: Aristotle rejected Plato’s Theory of Forms.
41. True or False: Aristotle denied the existence of universals.
42. True or False: Socrates wrote no philosophic treatise himself.
44. Which of the following had a more family-friendly political philosophy.
A Worker Reads History
by Bertolt Brecht
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Greek triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?
Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?
So many particulars.
So many questions.
Preview of 100 Events We Will Cover In Church & Empires
- All history is His story.
- We must work to differentiate between civilization and Christianity.
- The past is a “foreign country.” – hermeneutics emic vs. etic
- Persecution of Christian during the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D) came to forefront in Asia Minor where the imperial cult was centered.
- Persecution resulted in two significant literary productions: apologetics and martyrdom.
- Heresy promoted doctrinal systematization.
- Irenaeus important for representing orthodox reaction to heresy (Against Heresies).
- Tertullian’s writings tell us much about alternative understandings of Christianity.
- Origen produced the first systematic theology.
- Claims against Christians included obstinacy, disloyalty, atheism, cannibalism, incest.
- Philosophers such as Celsus, Galen, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius argued that Christians were “weaklings”, irrational, gullible, and fanatics.
- Persecution was sporadic but “always present as a possibility.”
- The early church fathers gave us a rich theological inheritance, but were not immune to error.
- Irenaeus – Trinitarian, fought Gnosticism, but also apostolic succession, emphasis upon tradition, priority of Roman bishop
- Perhaps the most influential second century apologist was Justin Martyr. Others included Tatian, Athenagorus, Thophilus and Minucius Felix.
- The Logos was prominent in apologetic literature (a) The Logos as the reason or wisdom of God, (b) the Logos as God’s spoken word, (c) the Logos as immanent in the world, (d) the Logos as the revealed word of God in the prophets, (e) the incarnate Jesus.
- Martyrdom literature took three forms, letters, passions, and acts.
- “Beginning with Constantine, the church entered imperial history in such a way that one cannot deal with the secular history of the fourth century without discussing the church and cannot deal with the religious history without considering the state.”
- Arius believed that, “Thee was when Christ was not” — that Jesus was the first and highest of God’s creations – a god.
- Arianism was addressed at the Council of Nicea, called by Constantine in 325.
- The council adopted the word homoousious to describe Christ’s relationship with the Father.
- The first four ecumenical councils were Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451).
- The fourth century dealt with the Trinitarian conflict. The fifth century with the Christological controversy.
- Apollonarianism = the belief that the divine Logos replaced the human soul/spirit of Jesus.
- Nestorianism = Christ exists as two natures, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as a unified person.
- Eutychianism = Monophysitism – only one nature of Christ, the human nature overcome by the divine nature.
- Ebionites – Denied the full deity of Christ (As the Christ, he functioned as God on earth)
- Docetism – Appeared to be a man
- Eutychianism – Human nature became absorbed into the God nature such that
- Monarchianism/Seballianism – Modalism
- Adoptionism – man in the beginning but adopted as the Son of God and became deity
- Kenoticsm – God became less God to become man, he set aside part of his deity
- We must watch out for language games – equivocation
- Constantine moves capital in 330
- The Eastern Empire becomes seat of power and wealth
- Roman bishop left as single most powerful person in the West
- By the end of the 4th century barbarians serious problem in the west (Visgoths, Huns, etc)
- After the sacking of Rome in 410, Christian views of society and history were put forth, including the most prominent which was Augustine’s City of God.
- Compare Augustine’s Two Cities with Genesis 4-5.
- Other important works of Augustine which we will discuss include his Confessions, and On the Trinity,
- Augustine – bridge between ancient world and Middle Ages
- Roman bishop won primacy over other bishops
- When imperial throne falls into the hands of the barbarians in 476 people look to the Roman bishop for political leadership as well as spiritual leadership
- Western civilization was created in medieval Europe (institutions, mentalities, struggles, books, etc.) No more Roman Lake.
- Spontaneous mission work in 4th & 5th centuries
- “Medieval history, from one point of view, is the story of the movement of the centre of gravity of civilization from one side of the Alps to the other.”
- “The movement of the centres of civilization from south to north and from east to west during the medieval centuries involved a change from the empires of Rome, Byzantium, and the Arabs, empires of vast geographical extent and great military power but which were relatively loosely controlled.” Creation of new societies.
- Christians among the Britons by the end of the second century.
- When Roman missionaries came England in 6th century they found three distinct expressions of Christianity (1)Romano-British Christians in the South, (2) Irish Christians, and (3) Celtic Christianity.
- Boniface evangelizes Teutonic tribes occupying modern Germany
- In the East, political stability achieved through reducing taxes and trimming expenses. (common vision)
- Syriac speaking Christians took gospel to Persian where there was interest in medicine, philosophy, advanced education.
- Persians make peace treaty with Justinian in 532
- Justinian had eyes on Africa and Italy
- 539 Khosru declares War on “Rome”
- Bubonic plague, Slavs, Goths keep Eastern empire from “glory” – Justinian’s reign relentless, austere quality
- Persia becomes stronger than at any time since Darius I
- Time of weak leadership makes susceptible to be conquered.
- In the sixth century many Arabs had converted to Christianity, but most continued to worship tribal deities.
- Mohammad lived 570-632.
- Ten years = 65 raids or campaigns
- Eventually becomes powerful enough to take Mecca, destroys idols, establishes Islam
- Islam means “submission.”
- Muslim means “one who submits.”
- The century of Muslim expansion is traditionally dated as 632-732.
- By 650 his Muslims had overrun the Persian empire, taken Syria, Egypt, and Palestine
- Western empire makes gains in the North through evangelism.
- Missionary task included making sure converts would be loyal to the pope.
- Emperors in Constantinople thought the church should be subordinate to the ruler of the state.
- Pope seeks ally
- Frankish rulers
- Rulers of new empire were Teutons rather than Romans
- Franks had accepted the Roman culture
- Clovis (466-510) had unified the Franks and conquered most of what would be modern France
- Franks accepted Christianity in 496 and became bulwark of papal power in Western Europe
- Eastern Empire barely hold its own against Muslims
- 718 Eastern empire under Leo the Isaurian stops Muslim advance
- Charles Martel stopped the advance of Islam in Spain in 732.
- Muslims, influenced by Greek culture, set out to build a splendid Arabic civilization centered in Bagdad
- Eastern Influence Diminishes (North African church disappears, Egypt and Holy Land lost to Muslims, Roman bishop has been growing stronger and stronger)
- The Franks “snatched western Europe from decline and brought a brief cultural revival” when Charlemagne crowned as true successor to the Roman empire.
- Charlemagne had Augustine’s City of God read to him every night and it was his inspiration for a Frankish-Roman empire.
- Charlemagne saw “missions” as part of a military strategy.
- By the time of the new millennium (1000) almost all of Europe was “officially” Christian.
- Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III on Christmas day of 800, but intentionally avoided having the Pope present when control was passed to his son (816).
- “The Constitution romana (824) spelled out relations of emperor and pope. The emperor had supreme jurisdiction, while the pope as a local ruler was to exercise ordinary judiciary and administrative power in his territories. The pope was to be chosen by the Roman people without constraint. The emperor was to confirm his election, and before his consecration he was to take an oath of loyalty to the emperor. The pope had the right to crown and anoint the emperor.
- Henry III, German emperor, was the last emperor able to dominate the papacy. Deposed three rival popes and installed his own.
- Excommunication of Henry IV by Gregory VII in 1076.
- Pope Boniface VII: Unam Sanctum (1302)For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered _for_ the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.
- Erastians –
- Calvin –
- Luther –
- Anabaptists –
- What Does the Bible Say? Deut 17:8ff
- 1 Samuel 13
- 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
- Luke 20:22ff
- First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
- Aristocracy = weakness, meritocracy = strength
- Six things that lead to cultural change: war, politics, religion, migration, economics, education.
Developing a Research Topic
Spring 2017 Criswell College Chapel
Check out the great list of speakers for chapel this semester at Criswell College, and then come join us.
Tuesday, January 17 Dr. Barry Creamer, President, Criswell College (Convocation/Regalia)
Thursday, January 19 Dr. Dante Wright, Senior Pastor, Sweet Home Baptist Church, Round Rock, TX
Tuesday, January 24 Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, Dean of the School of Theology, SWBTS, Fort Worth, TX
Thursday, January 26 Dr. Christopher Graham, Assistant Professor of Theology, Criswell College
Tuesday, January 31 Sanctity of Life Panel Discussion (not all participants secured)
Leanne Jamieson, Director, Prestonwood Pregnancy Center, Richardson, TX
Ann Hettinger, former State Director, CWA Texas, Dallas, TX
TBD, Gladney Center for Adoption, Fort Worth, TX (waiting on confirmation)
Thursday, February 2 Jerry A. Johnson, President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, February 7 Dr. Jeff Campbell, Assistant Professor of Preaching, Dean of Students, Criswell College
Thursday, February 9 Dr. Adam Greenway, Dean, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, Vice President for Academic Services, Southern Seminary, Louisville, KY (SBTC Revitalization Conference)
Tuesday, February 14 Joshua Crutchfield, Senior Pastor, FBC Madisonville, TX
Thursday, February 16 Great Commission Chapel, Kenya Mission trip testimonies
Tuesday, February 21 Dr. Bruce Ashford, Provost and Dean of Faculty, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
Thursday, February 23 Dr. Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
Tuesday, February 28 JT Riley, Pastor, Providence Baptist Church, Providence Village, TX
Thursday, March 2 Aaron Scarbrough, Pastor, Graceview Baptist Church, Burleson, TX
Tuesday, March 7 Kevin Stilley, Chief Business Officer and Vice President of Finance, Criswell College
Thursday, March 9 Dr. Steve Hunter, Hope for the Heart Chair of Biblical Counseling and Professor of Counseling & Psychology, Criswell College
Tuesday, March 14 Spring Break
Thursday, March 16 Spring Break
Tuesday, March 21 Great Commission Week Chapel, Shane Pruitt, Director of Missions, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Thursday, March 23 Church Revitalization Chapel preacher TBD (Dr. Meraz will schedule)
Tuesday, March 28 Dr. Everett Berry, Professor of Theology, Criswell College
Thursday, March 30 Preaching Award Recipient (TBD)
Tuesday, April 4 Dr. Joseph Wooddell, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Criswell College
Thursday, April 6 Dr. Barry Creamer, President, Criswell College
Books & Reading – select quotes
As addictions go, reading is among the cleanest, easiest to feed, happiest.
~ Joseph Addison
Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
~ Joseph Addison
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison
Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.
~ John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
Books are the most mannerly of companions, accessible at all times, in all moods, frankly declaring the author’s mind, without offense.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott, in Concord Days
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
~ Maya Angelou
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
~ Maya Angelou
Some books are undeservedly forgotten, none are undeservedly remembered.
~ W. H. Auden
Reading maketh a full man.
~ Francis Bacon
Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.
~ Francis Bacon
He who loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, or an effectual comforter.
~ Isaac Barrow
When I am dead, I hope it may be said: “His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”
~ Hilaire Belloc
There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
~ Ray Bradbury
I speak as an unregenerate reader, one who still believes that language and not technology is the true evolutionary miracle. I have not yet given up on the idea that the experience of literature offers a kind of wisdom that cannot be discovered elsewhere; that there is profundity in the verbal encounter itself, never mind what further profundities that author has to offer; and that for a host of reasons the bound book is the ideal vehicle for the written word.
~ Sven Birkerts, in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (NY: Fawcett, 1994), page 6.
The information I most want is in books not yet written by people not yet born.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant
There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
~ Joseph Brodsky
Reader, If it be not strong upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read? To increase thy own condemnation? If thy light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing man thou art, the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever. When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action; the same may I say. If any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action; as that man that reads that he may know, and that labours to know that he may do, will have two heavens — a heaven of joy, peace and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death.
~ Thomas Brooks, in Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks, Banner of Truth, 1652 p. 22
Books we must have though we lack bread.
~ Alice Brotherton
A good book is never exhausted. It oges on whispering to you from the wall.
~ Anatole Broyard
Laws die; books never.
~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.
~ Anthony Burgess
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
~ Edmund Burke
All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books.
~ Richard De Bury, in Philobiblion
The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them.
~ Samuel Butler
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
~ Italo Calvino
Reading for experience is the only reading that justifies excitement. Reading for facts is necessary bu the less said about it in public the better. Reading for distraction is like taking medicine. We do it, but it is nothing to be proud of. But reading for experience is transforming.
~ Henry Seidel Canby
All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.
~ Thomas Carlyle
In books lies the soul of the whole past time; the articulate, audible voice of the past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.
~ Thomas Carlyle
Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.
~ Angela Carter
He gave himself up so wholly to the reading of romances that a-nights he would pore on until it was day, and a-days he would read on until it was night; and thus he sleeping little and reading much the moisture of his brain was exhausted to that degree that at last he lost the use of his reason.
~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, in Don Quixote
God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.
~ William E. Channing
“What shall I do with my books?” was the question; and the answer “Read them” sobered the questioner.
But if you cannot read them, at any rate handle them and, as it were, fondle them. Peer into them. Let them fall open where they will. Read on from the very first sentence that arrests the eye. Then turn to another. Make a voyage of discovery, taking soundings of uncharted seas. . . . Arrange them on your own plan, so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. If they cannot be your friends, let them at any rate be your acquanintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.
~ Winston Churchill
Anyone who has a book collection and a garden wants for nothing.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
The only way to do all the things you’d like to do is to read.
~ Tom Clancy
A book in the hand is worth two on the shelf.
~ Henry T. Coutts
One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.
~ Hart Crane
Literature is man’s exploration of man by artificial light, which is better than natural light because we can direct it where we want.
~ David Daiches
The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
~ Rene Descartes
There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.
~ Charles Dickens
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
of Prancing Poetry.
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll–
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul.
~ Emily Dickinson
The world is a library of strange and wonderful books, and sometimes we just need to go prowling through the stacks.
~ Michael Dirda
When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.
~ W. E. B. Du Bois
I seldom read on beaches or in gardens. You can’t read by two lights at once, the light of day and the light of the book. You should read by electric light, the room in shadow, and only the page lit up.
~ Marguerite Duras
Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
~ Albert Einstein
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends. they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, the most patient teachers.
~ Charles Eliot
A collector recently bought at public auction, in London, for one hundred and fifty-seven guineas, an autograph of Shakespeare; but for nothing a school-boy can read Hamlet and can detect secrets of highest concernment yet unpublished therein.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Experience”
There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The American Scholar
When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. My luggage is my library. My home is where my books are.
~ Desiderius Erasmus
There are those who, while reading a book, recall, compare, conjure up emotions from other, previous readings. This is one of the most delicate forms of adultery.
~ Ezequiel Martínez Estrada
When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.
~ Clifton Fadiman
If the crowns of all the kingdoms of the Empire were laid at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all.
~ Francois Fenelon
But he who truly loves books loves all books alike, and not only this, but it grieves him that all other men do not share with him this noble passion. Verily, this is the most unselfish of loves!
~ Eugene Field in Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
~ Gustave Flaubert
And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is buring?
~ Gustave Flaubert in Madame Bovary
Read in order to Live.
~ Gustave Flaubert
Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent me.
~ Anatole France
There are no bad books any more than there are ugly women.
~ Anatole France
Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
~ Margaret Fuller
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them that reading is a pleasurable activity.
~ Neil Gaiman
Digital reading will completely take over. It’s lightweight and it’s fantastic for sharing. Over time it will take over.
~ Bill Gates
The book must of necessity be put into a bookcase. And the bookcase must be housed. And the house must be kept. And the library must be dusted, must be arranged, must be catalogued. What a vista of toil, yet not unhappy toil!
~ William Gladstone
I have always suspected that authors lie about the books they read, their purported influences, much as men lie about their sex lives; they are at once ashamed and vain, reluctant to be judged, hiding behind a safe parapet like Joyce and Proust and Kafka.
~ Brian Glanville
The dear good people don’t know how long it takes to learn to read. I’ve been at it eighty years, and can’t say yet that I’ve reached the goal.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
~ Ursula Le Guin
Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.
~ Mark Haddon
The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it ives you moral knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is moral illumination.
~ Elizabeth Hardwick
What is a book? Part matter and part spirit; par thing and part thought–however you look at it, if defies definition.
~ Ernest O. Hauser
I fell asleep reading a dull book and dreamed I kept on reading, so I awoke from sheer boredom.
~ Heinrich Heine
All good books have one thing in common. They are truer than if they had really happened.
~ Ernest Hemingway
These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice . . . and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.
~ Gilbert Highet
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
~ S.I. Hiyakawa
Poets are never allowed to be mediocre by the gods, by men or by publishers.
~ Horace as quoted by Montaigne
Reading is a sage way to bump up against life. Reading may be an escape, but it is not escape from my own life and problems. It is escape from the narrow boundaries of being only me.
~ Gladys Hunt, in Honey for a Woman’s Heart (HT: Heidi)
Every man who knows how to read has it in him power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, and interesting.
~ Aldous Huxley
Farther than arrows, higher than wings fly poet’s song and prophet’s words.
~ Inscription on the Brooklyn Public Library
Books are the most enduring monument of man’s achievement. Through them, civilization becomes cumulative.
~ Inscription in the Detroit Public Library
A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life.
~ Inscription in the New York Public Library.
Here genius lies enshrined.
Here sleep in silent majesty
The monarchs of the mind
~ Inscription in the St. Louis Public Library
People who don’t read are brutes.
~ Eugene Ionesco
Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
~ Thomas Jefferson
I cannot live without books.
~ Thomas Jefferson
The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
~ Joseph Joubert
A reader finds little in a book save what he puts here. But in a great book he finds space to put many things.
~ Joseph Joubert
A book ought to be an icepick to break up the frozen sea within us.
~ Franz Kafka
A book is a gift you can open again and again.
~ Garrison Keillor
As a former English major, I am a sitting duck for Gift Books, and in the past few years I’ve gotten Dickens, Thackeray, Smollet, Richardson, Emerson, Keats, Boswell and the Brontes, all of them Great, none of them ever read by me, all of them now on a shelf, looking at me and making me feel guilty.
Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.
~ Helen Keller
If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries.
~ John F. Kennedy
The aim of great books is ethical: to teach what it means to be a man. Every major form of literary art has taken for its deeper themes what T.S. Eliot called “the permanent things”–the norms of human action.
~ Russell Kirk, in Enemies of the Permanent Things. LaSalle, IL: Sherwood Sugden and Co., 1984. page 41
A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.
~ Charles Lamb
In some respects the better a book is, the less it demands from the binding.
~ Charles Lamb
What is reading, but silent conversation.
~ Charles Lamb
Magazines all too frequently lead to books, and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature.
~ Fran Lebowitz
I have give up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself.
~ Oscar Levant
Any kid who has parents who are interested in him and has a houseful of books isn’t poor.
~ Sam Levenson
You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.
~ C. S. Lewis
A book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.
~ G. C. Lichtenberg
Books, nowadays, are printed by people who do not understand them, sold by people who do not understand them, read and reviewed by people who do not understand them, and even written by people who do not understand them.
~ G. C. Lichtenberg
The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.
~ Abraham Lincoln
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections; unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength and nourishment.
~ John Locke
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks
All the sweet serenity of books.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Books are more than books. They are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men lived and worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.
~ Amy Lowell
My alma mater was books, a good library…I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.
~ Malcolm X
The world exists to be put in a book.
~ Stephane Mallarme
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
~ George R. R. Martin
I am a machine condemned to devour books.
~ Karl Marx, in a letter to Engels, April 11, 1868
If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.
~ François Mauriac
Readers, on the other hand, have at least 7.5 books going all the time. Actually, the number of books a reader takes on is usually directly related to the number of bathrooms he has in his home and office. I am working on a survey that will show that, over a lifetime, readers are in bathrooms seven years and three months longer than nonreaders.
~ Calvin Miller, “Confessions of a Librophliac” in Christianity Today, January 18, 1985, page 32.
A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
~ John Milton
As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.
~ John Milton
What enriches language is its being handled and exploited by beautiful minds–not so much by making innovations as by expanding it through more vigorous and varied applications, by extending it and deploying it. It is not words that they contribute: what they do is enrich their words, deepen their meanings and tie down their usage; they teach it unaccustomed rhythms, prudently though and with ingenuity.
~ Michel de Montaigne, “On Some Lines of Virgil”
There is hardly any grief that an hour’s reading will not dissipate.
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear that it will go off in you face. . . . It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
~ Edward P. Morgan
Malnutrition of the reading faculty is a serious thing.
~ Christopher Morley, in The Haunted Bookshop
Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.
The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.
~ Pablo Neruda
We read to know that we are not alone.
~ William Nicholson
Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.
~ Kathleen Norris
Read properly, fewer books than a hundred would suffice for a liberal education. Read superficially, the British Museum Library might still leave the student a barbarian.
~ A. R. Orage)
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
~ P.J. O’Rourke
Until one has some kind of professional relationship with books, one does not discover how bad the majority of them are.
~ George Orwell
A great novel is a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed.
~ Katherine Patterson
I divide all readers into two classes: Those who read to remember and those who read to forget.
~ William Lyon Phelps
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
~ Chinese proverb
The strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink.
~ Chinese proverb
No worse thief than a bad book.
~ Italian proverb
In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.
~ Anna Quindlen, in How Reading Changed My Life, page 6.
Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. they are the destination, and the journey. They are home.
~ Anna Quindlen, in How Reading Changed My Life, page 70.
Tough choices face the biblioholic at every step of the way–like choosing between reading and eating, between buying new clothes and buying books, between a reasonable lifestyle and one of penurious but masochistic happiness lived out in the wallow of excess.
~ Tom Raabe, Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction
Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.
~ Hazel Rochman
A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
~ Will Rogers
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
~ Will Rogers
People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory.
~ Franklin Roosevelt
The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television.
~ Andrew Ross
The universe is made of stories,
not of atoms.
~ Muriel Rukeyser, “The Speed of Darkness”
If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying.
~ John Ruskin, in Sesame and Lilies
You must get into the habit of looking intensely at words, and assuring yourself of their meaning, syllable by syllable–nay, letter by letter… you might read all the books in the British Museum (if you could live long enough) and remain an utterly “illiterate,” undeducated person; but if you read ten pages of a good book, letter by letter, — that is to say, with real accuracy– you are for evermore in some measure an educated person.
~ John Ruskin
The Bible is the one book to which any thoughtful man may go with any honest question of life or destiny and find the answer of God by honest searching.
~ John Ruskin
There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.
~ Bertrand Russell
All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write.
~ Carl Sandburg
The peace of great books be for you,
Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages,
Bleach of the light of years held in leather.
~ Carl Sandburg, from his poem “For You”, in Harvest Poems: 1910-1960
Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.
~ Mary Schmich
The difference between the effect produced on the mind by thinking for yourself and that produced by reading is incredibly great…For reading forcibly imposes on the mind thoughts that are as foreign to its mood as the signet is to the wax upon which it impresses its seal. The mind is totally subjected to an external compulsion to think this or that for which it has no inclination and is not in the mood…The result is that much reading robs the mind of all elasticity, as the continual pressure of a weight does a spring, and that the surest way of never having any thoughts of your own is to pick up a book every time you have a free moment.
~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), page 89.
There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~ Maurice Sendak
Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed.
It does not matter how many, but how good, books you have.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Learning to read . . . we slowly learn to read ourselves. Once we learn how to read, even if then we do not live more wisely, we can at least begin to be aware of why we have not.
~ Mark Shorer
We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.
~ B. F. Skinner
No furniture is so charming as books.
~ Sydney Smith
Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
~ Lemony Snicket
Reading makes the full man, and it is the full man who alone can overflow for the profit of others.
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries, 24; quoted in Nettles, Living by Revealed Truth, 158
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Richard Steele
Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.
~ R. L. Stein
I guess there are never enough books.
~ John Steinbeck
And if a man reads very hard, as the old anecdote reminds us, he will have little time for thought.
~ Robert Lewis Stevenson, in An Apology For Idlers
As if a man’s soul were not too small to begin with, they have dwarfed an narrowed theirs by a life of all work and no play; until here they are at forty, with a listless attention, a mind vacant of all material of amusement, and not one thought to rub against another, while they wait for the train.
~ Robert Lewis Stevenson, in An Apology For Idlers
Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.
~ Robert Lewis Stevenson, in An Apology For Idlers
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.
~ William Styron
My home is where my books are.
~ Ellen Thompson
Books are the treasured wealth of the world, to fit the inheritance of generations.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Books must be read as deliberately and as reservedly as they were written.
~ Henry David Thoreau
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!
~ Henry David Thoreau, in Reading
I always begin at the left with the opening word of the sentence and read towards the right and I recommend this method.
~ James Thurber
No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
~ Atwood H. Townsend
Book love, my friends, is your pass to the greatest, the purest, and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for His creatures.
~ Anthony Trollope
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change, windows on the world, “lighthouses” (as a poet said) “erected in the sea of time.” They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.
~ Barbara Tuchman.
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
~ Mark Twain
‘Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.
~ Mark Twain
If you’re going to be a prisoner of your own mind, the least you can do is make sure it’s well furnished.
~ Peter Ustinov
I was reading a book…’the history of glue’ – I couldn’t put it down.
~ Tim Vine
You tell me your favorite novelists and I’ll tell you whom you vote for, or whether you vote at all.
~ Stephen Vizinczey
The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from out neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.
Books rule the world, or at least those nations which have a written language; the others do not matter.
Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.
Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
A novelist has mad a fictional representation of life. I doing so, he has revealed to us more significance, it may be, than he could find in life itself.
~ Bernard de Voto
I only read what I am hungry for at the moment when I have an appetite for it, and then I do not read, I eat.
~ Simone Weil
Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.
~ E.P. Whipple
As in the sexual experience, there are never more than two persons present in the act of reading–the writer, who is the impregnator, and the reader, who is the resspondent. This gives the experience of reading a sublimity and power unequalled by any other form of communication.
~ E. B. White
Comerado, this is no book,
Who touches this, touches a man,
(Is it night? Are we here alone?)
It is I you hold, and who holds you,
I spring from the pages into your arms–decease calls me forth.
~ Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”
Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of the viol or lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?
~ Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
~ Oscar Wilde
A ravening appetite in him demanded that he read everything that had ever been written about human experience. He read no more from pleasure–the thought that other books were waiting for him tore at his heart forever. He pictured himself as tearing the entrails from a book as from a fowl.
~ Thomas Wolfe, in Of Time and the River
The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
~ John Wooden
We agreed that people are now afraid of the English language. He [T.S. Eliot] said it came of being bookish, but not reading books enough. One should read all styles thoroughly.
~ Virginia Woolf from The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume Two: 1920-1924
Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.
~ Virginia Woolf in her essay “Street Haunting”
Of course, literature is the only spiritual and humane career. Even painting tends to dumness, and music turns people erotic, whereas the more you write the nicer you become.
~ Virginia Woolf
When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
~ Henny Youngman
Our true birthplace is that in which we cast for the first time an intelligent eye on ourselves. My first homelands were my books.
~ Marguerite Yourcenar
You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope-building people.
~ Zig Ziglar
Define your terms, please.
Allow me to share with you the story of an old fashioned lady, quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language.
She and her husband were planning a vacation so she wrote to a campground for reservations. She wanted to make sure it was fully equipped, but didn’t know how to ask about the toilet facilities. She didn’t want to write ‘toilet’ in her letter. After much deliberation she though of the old fashioned term ‘bathroom commode’ but when she read the letter she had written she was still uncomfortable with the straightforward language. So she rewrote the letter and abbreviated bathroom commode to B.C. “Does the campground have it’s own B.C.?” she wrote.
Well, the campground owner wasn’t old fashioned at all and when he got the letter he couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. The B.C. business really stumped him. After worrying about it for awhile he showed the letter to some of the campers. Many of the campers were Baptists, and they were certain that the lady must be inquiring about the location of the local Baptist Church. So, the campground owner sat down and wrote the following reply.
I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take the pleasure of informing you that the B.C. is located six miles north of the campground. It is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I will admit that it is quite a distance away, if your in the habit of going regularly. But no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches and make a day of it.
They usually arrive early and stay late. The last time my wife and I went was 6 years ago, and it was so crowded that we had to stand up the whole time. Right now there is a supper planned to raise money for more seats. It will be held in the basement of the B.C. I would like to say tht it pains me that I am not able to attend regularly, but it is not for the lack of desire on my part. As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather.
If you decide to come down to the campgrounds, perhaps I could go with you the first time, sit with you, and introduce you to all the folks.
Remember that this is a friendly community.
If two parties are using the same terms in different ways what do you have? Confusion.
Medieval scholastics had a Latin phrase that was almost a motto for them. “When there is confusion, make a distinction.”
How many of you have read the dialogues of Plato? What is the first thing that Socrates always did in his effort to arrive at understanding? – He forced those involved in the discussion to define their terms. “What is justice? Don’t give me examples of justice, define it.”
How many of you have been involved in dialogue with other faiths? Do they use the same theological vocabulary as you? Yes. Does it mean the same thing? Probably not.
As a religious leader, guarding your flock, you must make sure that you have defined your faith for them and that your flock understands the language games that are played in the theological marketplace of ideas.
Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Really? What does that mean?
Thoughts on Books Read in 2016
For more than a decade it has been necessary for me to come up with about twenty hours of fresh material each week for my lectures and sermons. When you are teaching and preaching that frequently it is essential that your reading be focused on the best resources available for preparation of your presentations. However, I have now moved out of the classroom into administration, and am no longer serving as pastor of a church, which means I was able to read anything I wanted in 2016. Maybe that freedom wasn’t such a good thing considering the below list of books read in 2016.
The list is desultory, but I found some of the information culled from it to be interesting:
- Of the 85 books I read in 2016, 24 were non-fiction and 61 were fiction.
- I read more science fiction/fantasy than any other genre (20 books).
- 18 of the books were books that I had read previously at least once.
- 7 books were autobiographical or heavily self-referential.
- The author whose books I read most was Peter Clines (8 books.)
- My favorite book from 2016 was a book on virtue in the public sphere.
I have broken the books down into two lists, fiction and nonfiction, and then sequenced them with my most enjoyable reading experiences at the top of each list. The books at the top are not necessarily the best books, but are the books of which I most enjoyed the reading experience.
- The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice, by Vaclav Havel
- I read most of this book in 2015, then re-read it in its entirety in 2016. That’s how good I think it is. It is a compilation of the speeches of Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic. Havel is the kind of thinking, earnest, honest person that both Republicans and Democrats should be seeking to elevate within their parties. I wish I could have made every American read this book during the last year.
- Jewish Theology, Systematically and Historically Considered, by Kaufmann Kohler
- While browsing the clearance shelves of a used book store I came across a copy of this book by a former President of Hebrew Union University. My copy of the book is a fiftieth anniversary addition of the 1918 original publication. I appreciate the fresh voice of the author (yes, even after 100 years), even if our understanding of history and theology is far removed from each other. The book is available for free as an Amazon download if you are interested in taking a look at it.
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer
- I think it is safe to say this book has reached “classic” status. Everyone knows this is a great book. But perhaps you need to hear that it is also a very interesting and enjoyable read. And, I would hasten to say, it is a bit scary; it is all too easy to see things that led up to Nazi Germany permeating American culture at the present time.
- Night, by Elie Wiesel
- The blurb from the book jacket describes it well, “Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.” I first read this book decades ago, I am glad I chose to read it again this year on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize winning author’s death.
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, by Oliver Sacks
- The operation of the brain is a fascinating thing, and it is even more fascinating when the brain goes haywire. With the expertise of a clinician and the skill of a storyteller Oliver Sacks shares inconceivably strange perceptual and intellectual aberrations of the neurologically impaired.
- The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters, by Albert Mohler
- People generally underestimate the level of leadership skills required to lead a Christian organization. After all, aren’t they all gentle Christian people committed to the same organizational vision, mission, and goals? It would be nice if it was that simple, but it isn’t. Mohler’s book is very good, and is must reading for anyone wanting to lead by conviction. For those who have already read dozens of leadership books and think they need not read another one, I would suggest that this book is paradigmatically different than what they have previously read and worth their attention.
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, by Scott Adams
- Don’t expect a funny, ha-ha, book from this Dilbert cartoonist. Do expect a helpful, how-to-be-successful-in-life, book from someone who has turned around many personal challenges and business failures to make them work for him rather than against him. As Adams says in the book, cartoonists have a knack for simplifying matters. And, in this book he teaches you to establish simple systems for personal success rather than pursue endless goals.
- A Little History of Philosophy, by Nigel Warburton
- If I was still teaching an Introduction to Philosophy class, I think I might use this book as a text. I don’t usually like intro texts because they simply regurgitate the same material that has been repeated by hundreds of similar texts. However, I found the author’s approach to be fresh and in many ways enlightening. Have a go at it.
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss
- This is about as interesting a book as could possibly be written on the topic of punctuation. I read this book for self defense; I am surrounded by some very smart people who a less generous person might describe as grammar Nazis. Many a cabinet meeting and radio show has devolved into a passionate discussion of punctuation and sentence structure. (Having read E,S & L I know all the places in this post that are wrongly punctuated, but I have left the irregularities in place as a test for you.)
- Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely
- Those of you who like the television series “Brain Games”, will enjoy this book that helps explain why we make the decisions we do. Behavioral economics is fascinating.
- The Dictionary of Misinformation, by Tom Burnam
- Okay, I am embarrassed at how many things I thought I knew that are complete rubbish. Even more embarrassing is the fact that I had passed on heaps of misinformation to my kids. This book helped me unlearn many things that I should not have learned to begin with.
- The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
- It is always interesting to see how much agreement there is regarding virtue between orthodox Christianity and philosophers of very different stripes. Metaphysics? No! Definitely not. But axiology? Yes. For an exploration of this you may want to read C.S. Lewis’ book The Abolition of Man.
- Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcy
- I have had this on my shelves for years and finally got around to reading it. It was not what I was expecting, but it contains helpful apologetic material. Those who are familiar and sympathetic with the writings of Francis Schaeffer , and those with an interest in intelligent design, will enjoy it most.
- Critical Thinking Skills for Dummies, by Martin Cohen
- It’s okay. You can benefit from it if you bring some critical thinking skills to the reading experience and use them to evaluate the book itself. Unfortunately, there aren’t any books on this subject that I think are outstanding, and this book fits into the mediocre middle with the rest of them.
- Logic for Dummies, by Mark Zegarelli
- It is okay. I think there are some better introductory texts on the subject. If you are interested in the subject you may want to check out Introduction to Logic by Harry J. Gensler
- Word Lover’s Dictionary: Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Josefa Feifetz
- I am essentially a countrified hick, so it takes a lot of work to sound smart enough for the environs of my vocational and domestic habitation.
- Quotable Quotes, by the Editors of Reader’s Digest
- A nice selection of quotes.
- The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure, by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy
- This book was given to me by a friend from a Foundation with whom I often work. Like most of Ken Blanchard’s books it is simple, short, driven by a narrative, and packs a punch.
- Sleep Demons: An Insomniac’s Memoir, by Bill Hayes
- This autoethnography of an insomniac is fascinating in places as he explores various sleep disorders, and it provoked nostalgia in that he is about my age so many of his childhood memories are reminiscent of my own. However, it runs too long and includes many disturbing and cringe inducing sections such as his seduction and induction into homosexuality by older pedophiles and his lascivious San Francisco lifestyle.
- Laughter is the Best Medicine, by the Editors of Reader’s Digest
- Hack, cough, sniffle, sniffle. No, it isn’t.
- Humor in Uniform, by the Editors of Reader’s Digest
- Hmmm, somehow the humor in Reader’s Digest used to be more humorous to me when I was younger. I’ve changed, and probably not for the better.
- To Live is Christ, To Die Is Gain, by Matt Chandler
- This book is okay, but I was disappointed that Chandler never asked, “Are you tracking with me?”
- Foundations of Psychohistory, by Lloyd Demause
- This book helped pioneer the field of Psychohistory, but I sometimes had the feeling that I was reading the work of a very intelligent person who was under the influence of LSD.
- Keep Moving, by Dick Van Dyke
- I wish I hadn’t read this book. I love re-watching the old Dick Van Dyke Show episodes and things revealed in this book will forever tarnish the experience. I would like to think Dick Van Dyke is the guy in the television series, not the guy in this book.
- The Bodies Left Behind, by Jeffrey Deaver
- Jeffrey Deaver is one of my favorite authors, and this is my favorite of his many books. I can’t always recommend Jeffrey Deaver’s books due to the fact that they contain material that I can’t in good conscience recommend to someone else. But this one I have shared with family and friends and none of them seem to have been disappointed.
- The Fold, by Peter Clines
- I read this because I had previously enjoyed Clines’ book 14. I liked The Fold even better than 14. Both books are exceptional sci-fi. Exceptional. Both contain some explicit material that limit my ability to recommend them.
- 14, by Peter Clines
- Time travel, multiple dimensions, seriously twisted bad guys, intriguing mysteries … what’s not to love about a book like this?
- All Quite on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
- Wow. Moving. A must read title for everyone.
- Gilgamesh, by Stephen Mitchell
- An extraordinary work that I have read many times and keep coming back to. This isn’t a translation of the Gilgamesh Epic but a version of it. The author poetically and artfully brings vibrant language and a storytellers genius to the translations of other authors — he translates from English into English. This piece of ancient Mesopotamian literature illustrates the questions that mankind has always seemed to struggle with such as death, friendship, heroism, and civilization.
- The Daybreakers, by Louis L’Amour
- I read this book in nine straight hours one Saturday. As a teenager I read every book by Louis L’Amour that I could get my hands on. Over the years I think I have read all, or nearly all, of his books. Last year I read his memoir, Education of a Wandering Man, and now I find myself wanting to read all of his books all over again.
- Flint, by Louis L’Amour
- You can count on the protagonists of Louis L’Amour books to demonstrate the four cardinal virtues — Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance — and sometimes the three Christian virtues — Faith, Hope, and Love. Even in this book, where the main character has never really developed the social skills and value system usually associated with a hero, you still see the virtues on display. I made the mistake of picking this book up at bedtime and was tired all the next day because I couldn’t stop reading it until that time when a cowboy should be waking up his herd.
- The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
- I last read this book when I was sixteen-years-old. I remember being seriously disturbed by the reality of the spiritual world the first time I read it. This time, I was seriously disturbed by the depravity of man. This is an excellent little book for Christians to read and contemplate what it means to live a life worthy and pleasing unto God.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
- Wilde’s characters say such unexpected things. It is not always easy to answer whether Wilde is being witty, paradoxical, absurd, vulgar, brash or something else entirely. This would be a great book to discuss in a class or with a book group.
- Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
- This is the fourth time I have read this book. I read it first as a teenager and didn’t like it at all; I thought it too dark and not very entertaining. However, over the passing of years, and with each subsequent reading, I have come to appreciate the message(s) of the book, and the authors artful weaving of the story threads. It is a great book that should be read deliberately and thoughtfully.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
- Exceptional writing that comes close to moving this from fantasy into the magical-realism genre.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
- Even though I had previously read this book, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of re-reading it. There is a reason why it consistently shows up at the top, or near the top of “Best Book” lists.
- Call of the Wild, by Jack London
- I read both Call of the Wild, and White Fang during the summer of 1978. I very much enjoyed them then, and again now thirty-eight years later. I was curious in that before picking them up again this year I could remember almost every detail of Call of the Wild, but White Fang not at all. After reading them again this year I know why. Call of the Wild is an adventure story, whereas White Fang makes me think of those over-produced, heavily narrated animal movies. Interesting and good, but not all that memorable.
- White Fang, by Jack London
- (See my notes for Call of the Wild.)
- Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1), by Marissa Meyer
- When my teenage daughter told me that she was reading a series of books that are retellings of classic fairy tales, set in the future, in Asia and on the moon, and populated with Cyborgs and creatures that might be found on the Island of Dr. Moreau — well, I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. But, she asked that I give them a try, and I like to read what my children are reading, so I read this first volume with the intention of appeasing her and then moving on to something that was worthy of my reading time. What? Huh? I loved them. I read through five books of the series in about two weeks.
- Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles Book 2), by Marissa Meyer
- (see the note above for Cinder)
- Cress (The Lunar Chronicles Book 3), by Marissa Meyer
- (see the note above for Cinder)
- Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4), by Marissa Meyer
- (see the note above for Cinder)
- Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story, by Marissa Meyer
- (a Lunar Chronicles prequel – see the note above for Cinder)
- Ex-Heroes, by Peter Clines
- Okay, I know what you must be thinking, “A series of books about Zombies and Super Heroes? How lame can it get?” But, I had read Peter Clines’ books The Fold, and 14, and was looking for more. I wasn’t expecting to like Ex-Heroes, but found it to be enjoyable even if it was stretching credulity far beyond the breaking point. I ended up going through the five volumes in the series in a matter of just a few days. Pop culture aficionados will approve of the liberal references to silly little things. Every book in the series includes “Walking Dead” style nastiness, so I can’t recommend them to others even though I enjoyed them myself.
- Ex-Patriots, by Peter Clines
- The second novel in Peter Clines’ Ex series. See my notes for Ex-Heroes.
- Ex-Communication, by Peter Clines
- The third novel in Peter Clines’ Ex series. See my notes for Ex-Heroes.
- Ex-Purgatory, by Peter Clines
- The fourth novel in Peter Clines’ Ex series. See my notes for Ex-Heroes.
- Ex-Isle, by Peter Clines
- The fifth novel in Peter Clines’ Ex series. See my notes for Ex-Heroes.
- The Girl on a Train, by Paula Hawkins
- A better name for the book would be Three Girls Having a Train Wreck. A very interesting first person writing style — I can’t think of anything quite like it (the comparisons with Gone Girl are nonsense.) It will eventually suck you in and keep you guessing.
- The Android’s Dream, by John Scalzi
- This is one of two books by John Scalzi that I read this year. He is a talented author and his books are fun. What happens when an earthling kills an interstellar alien ambassador by excreting intestinal gasses? You’ll have to stop laughing out loud long enough to read on and find out.
- Treasure Mountain, by Louis L’Amour
- I wish I could read these books in the same way that I did when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, my reading of them has been influenced by the movies that were made of them. I loved the Sacketts (the main characters), but now I get more Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott than the characters I created in my head when reading the book for the first time.
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- This new verse translation by Simon Armitage of the medieval England poem is readable while retaining a lyrical flow. The book is enjoyable (if a bit strange) and an important King Arthur text for cultural literacy.
- The Huckleberry Murders, by Patrick McManus
- I have read a handful of Patrick McManus books but this is the first of his Sheriff Bo Tully mysteries that I have read. This book is fun but not the same kind of rollicking fun that you get in his books like The Night the Bear Ate Goombah or Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink.
- Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer
- Almost everyone whom I know would have serious problems with this book — Darwinian Fundamentalists would hate it for its attack on “accepted” science, creation scientists would hate it for its snide dismissal of their scholarship, literary purists would fault it for its pedantic meanderings, blah, blah, blah, — but I kind of enjoyed it some of the time. Except for the ending. I really didn’t like the ending at all.
- Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
- Arthur C. Clarke is often credited with being the greatest science fiction author of the 20th century. And, if you read enough science fiction you will see his influence everywhere. This is usually considered his best book, and it is interesting, but I think it would have been better as a short story.
- Who Goes There?, by John W. Campbell
- This classic sci-fi novella was originally written almost one hundred years ago, but unlike most sci-fi it has remained contemporary and chilling. Good book. It is the book upon which John Carpenter’s 1982 movie “The Thing” is based. It has been many years, but I remember the movie as being very suspenseful and scary; maybe I ought to watch it again. I have not seen the first movie that came out in 1952 or the most recent remake that came out in 2011. Maybe I should watch those also?
- Down the Long Hills, by Louis L’Amour
- Louis L’Amour always tells a good story, and this book is an award winner. However, I found myself mentally changing some of the details of the book in order to make it more believable.
- The Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
- This is a great book to share with your kids to nurture their inner bibliophile. It is supposed to be for children in grades 4-6, but I can’t imagine book lovers of any age not enjoying it. There is also a sequel (that I have not yet read) and it appears that it is going to become a series.
- The Deerslayer (The Leatherstocking Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper
- I re-read all of the Leatherstocking tales this year. My general impressions haven’t changed much in the decades since I first read them. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated The Deerslayer – and was just basically “okay” with the other four books of the series.
- The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper
- (see my notes for The Deerslayer)
- The Pathfinder (The Leatherstocking Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper
- (see my notes for The Deerslayer)
- The Pioneers (The Leatherstocking Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper
- (see my notes for The Deerslayer)
- The Prairee (The Leatherstocking Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper
- (see my notes for The Deerslayer)
- Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi
- Preposterous, but very fun. It starts with some unnecessary very bad language, but becomes more tame as it goes along.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
- When you have six kids, you find yourself reading the same books to the different children as they become age appropriate. So, yes, this is the third time I have read this book. And, yes, I still enjoy it. I like the earlier books in the Harry Potter series, like this one, much better than the later books.
- Justice Redeemed, by Scott Pratt
- An agonizing “What were you thinking?” thriller that keeps you turning the pages at a brisk clip.
- Magic Street, by Orson Scott Card
- Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors, but you see how far down the list (sequenced in order of how much I enjoyed them) that this book falls. Part of my displeasure came from his mixing the account of Jesus and things truly holy into his world of faerie magic. Otherwise, the book was very creative. It is a sort of continuation of William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream, which you may want to re-familiarize yourself with before reading Magic Street.
- Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
- This book of short stories is brilliant in places — brilliant — and in others you just have to wade through until you get to the good stuff again. I also really enjoyed his essay explaining why he wrote the various pieces. It added meaning to the stories, made me feel the presence of the author in the telling, and helped me understand the writer’s craft a little better.
- The Short Drop, by Matthew FitzSimmons
- Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Readers of thrillers will want to grab this one.
- Candide, by Voltaire
- The eighteenth century’s analog to the twentieth century’s Black Adder.
- The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
- As a teenager I made the mistake of watching the 1974 movie made from this book which miscast Richard Thomas as Henry Fleming. After watching that movie, I avoided the book. I really didn’t like that movie at all. However, I recently found a nice leatherbound copy of the book that lured me in and I am glad that I finally got around to reading it.
- The Chopin Manuscript, by Jeffrey Deaver and others
- This was originally published as a serial, with Jeffrey Deaver writing the first chapter, and then fifteen of the worlds greatest thriller writers each authoring a chapter in turn. Then, Deaver wrote the conclusion pulling all of the pieces together. It suffered some of the weaknesses you would expect from this kind of collaboration, but overall it was a good book.
- The Rider of Lost Creek, by Louis L’Amour
- Not what I expected from a Louis L’Amour novel. Disappointed.
- Solitude Creek, by Jeffrey Deaver
- This book is one of his Kathryn Dance thrillers. Unlike most of his books, it took me awhile to get into this one, and then I found the presentation of the criminal’s thought-life to be very disturbing. It was typical Deaver style in the way it twisted and turned and misled the reader until the big revelations, but in this case they seemed contrived. Probably my least favorite Jeffrey Deaver book.
- The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare
- I bought this Newberry Honor winning historical novel for my kids, but I think I enjoyed it more than they will. It is a survival story set in the 1700s when men were men and boys were men too.
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
- I love 19th century history, but I’m not such a big fan of 19th century novels, especially those books written by women for a female audience. However, this one catches your imagination and holds it all the way through. Nevertheless, I had to laugh out loud at parts of the conclusion, not in a good way.
- The Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
- This prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is the literary version of fan fiction. I had some trouble connecting the characters between the two books; maybe due to the difference in writing styles between the two authors. But, the connection was strong enough that I detested Rochester even more after reading this.
- The Junkie Quatrain, by Peter Clines
- Yes, still more Peter Clines’ zombocalypse reading. But don’t worry about me, I have now read all of Clines’ books and can read something more edifying.
- The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
- Rather than read this whole book, I encourage you to just read the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi section and then watch the Disney animated Jungle Book cartoon of Mowgli the Man Cub. You won’t hear me say that very often.
- The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
- This book is regarded as “the first mystery novel” and appears on many lists as one of the best novels of all time. However you shouldn’t worry too much if you haven’t read it. Like most nineteenth century novels it is exceedingly wordy. I wish it was reduced in size by half. It sometimes seems that nineteenth century authors are getting paid by the word and so they are stretching it out as long as they can. However, if you can survive the first 300 pages or so, you will end up with an interesting story for the last half of the book.
- Saturday, by Ian McEwan
- I read this because it was required reading for my high school aged son. I can’t say I enjoyed it a lot, but I did appreciate the writing.
- The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton
- I want to like Chesterton. I try to like Chesterton. But once again, reading this book, like some of his other works, was a laborious task. Go ahead, judge me.
- The Roman Hat Mystery, by Ellery Queen
- I loved reading Ellery Queen mysteries when I was a teenager. But, either my reading tastes have changed, or this book does not measure up to the rest of the Ellery Queen canon. It was frustratingly slow.
- Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
- This book has the most unbelievable, insipid characters of any book I can remember reading. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
- Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
- This books spent 56 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers’ List, but I find myself agreeing with Vonnegut’s appraisal of the book. When he was asked why he wouldn’t publish the book initially, he said “Because if was a piece of _______.” Breakfast of Champions is truly a terrible representative of literature books and all of the good they stand for. A nasty book with no heart!”
- Lilith, a Romance, by George MacDonald
- I read two-thirds of the book but just couldn’t finish it. I know that people with an imagination are supposed to like George MacDonald, that he was inspiration for many great storytellers, but I feel like I am pushing a boulder uphill when reading his books.
Audacity and Boldness – select quotes
De l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace! [Audacity, audacity again, and audacity always.]
~ Georges Danton, to the French Legislative Assembly on September 2, 1792
We must not be afraid of dreaming the seemingly impossible if we want the seemingly impossible to become a reality.
~ Vaclav Havel, The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice
Impetuosity and audacity often achieve what ordinary means fail to achieve.
~ Nicholi Machiavelli, in Discourses
In audacity and obstinacy will be found safety.
~ Napoleon I, in Maxims of War
Desperate affairs, require desperate remedies
~ Horatio Nelson
The gods favour the bold.
~ Ovid, in Metamorphoses, x
Bold decisions give the best promise of success.
~ Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, in Rules of Desert Warfare
Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.
~ Edmund Spenser, in The Faerie Queene
Boldness be my friend!
Arm me, audacity, from heat to foot!
~ William Shakespeare, in Cymbeline
Great empires are not maintained by timidity.
~ Tacitus, in Histories
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