Top Books 2004


A great reading year!  I’m just starting to become literate – the web of interconnections is growing.  Lotsa 2nd-hand bookshops, and my first 24-hour book fair (1st weekend November, ASB stadium annually) was a buzz – 12-2am browsing bliss!  Some top discoveries of the year follow:

Dante: Divine Comedy, 1320.
The greatest Christian poem: a medieval journey through Inferno, Purgatorio & Paradiso.  A synthesis of mysticism and courtly love, “the love of learning and the desire for God”.  The hub of my 2004 literary web, it’s very rich, but not easy ­– I’ve met only 2 people who’ve read it.  My uni essay “Divine Desire: Dante’s Pilgrimage to God” is available on request.

Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, 1400.
The first great English work: a collection of short stories told by pilgrims.

Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure, 1895.
His last novel: struggles of a working-class bloke with academia & love.

G.K. Chesterton: St Francis of Assisi, 1923.  Essays, 1920s.
Wittily written and thought provoking.  I have his Chaucer to read next.

Charles Williams: Descent into Hell, 1937.
–– The Place of the Lion, 1931.
My favorite 2 of his 6 surreal “spiritual thrillers”.  Williams was an Inkling, close friend of CS Lewis and Tolkien, also writing on Dante & theology.

Frederick Buechner: Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, 1973.
–– Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, 1988.
–– Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, 1977.
The 1st 2 are collections of thoughtful articles, delightful dipping.

Anne Fadiman: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. 1998.
Deliciously bibliophilic essays on books and reading.

Philip Yancey: More Than Words: Contemporary Writers on the Works That Shaped Them, 2002.
Essays by current Christian authors on their favorite authors, from Tolstoy to Tolkien, Shakespeare to Solzhenitsyn.