Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Surprised by Re-Reading

I rarely re-read books. In general I try to power through whatever is in hand  (except for the Bible, of course) and move on to something new. But I noticed this year that I had re-read a number of books, and many of them have had a significant influence on my life over the years.

Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis - I remember the spot where I was sitting in the hotel lobby when I closed the cover on this book, New Year's even of 1999, (y2k anyone?) and just sat in wonder at God's unique work in Lewis' life. It brought great comfort to realize God had wired him for a specific purpose, and to know God had done the same for me. Picked it up again this year for a piece I was writing for the forth-coming Passport2Identity. Tried skimming through it to find a specific passage, but ended up not being able to put it down. Yes it slowed down the writing, but the re-reading was a great delight.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry -  I want to be like Jayber in so many ways when I grow up. You should read this to learn about selfless love, connections to a place and a people, and a vision of community. I tossed the audio book in the car this summer. Often lingered in the parking lot before entering the office as a result.

What are People for? Re-read this last year for at least the 4th time. Can't get enough Wendell Berry. A good reminder that people are more important than institutions.

Fahrenheit 451 - For many years it was hard for me to consider reading this book again. It made me rather uncomfortable. but this book also caused me to fall more in love with books and ideas and the preservation of thought. I will likely re-read it annually (though when I've said this before I've not followed through...)

A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry- Read this at the recommendation of a friend who quoted Keller saying this was the most important book on culture one could read. Re-read it and discussed it with a group of bros on my back porch a few nights this fall.

The Story of Christianity Church History volumes - read both of these in seminary. Re-read them this year with a group of guys at the office. Most stuck with it. All agreed that the books are tremendous. A recent quote by Churchill reminded me of the importance of reading church history: "The farther one looks into the past, the more distant one can see into the future."

How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer - I've read this once on my own and discussed at least two times with others. Now gearing up to work through it this spring with a group of guys at the office. A great overview of the history of western thought and the influences that have shaped the way we think today.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy- Wow. What a book. Read through it a couple of years ago, and listened through it this year, some parts twice. Inspired me to read Gone With the Wind, which was better than I imagined, but not nearly as epic to me as it was to Pat Conroy's mother. His chapter on the bookstore in Atlanta made me long for an experience like that. His chapter on the influence of his english teacher made me want to quit everything and teach english. I've got a work by Thomas Wolfe on my nightstand because of him. His chapter on writing in Paris made me want to write a lot more, though not in Paris. Great writing and story telling.


Michael said...

Based on your book list, I re-read F. 451 as well, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had forgotten just how similar the aspects of that futuristic world were to Aldous Huxley’s world in A Brave New World. Both are equally damning of our current consumerist culture and are magnificent books. I was particularly glad of Bradbury’s holding the Bible in high regard, regardless of whatever his personal religious ideas may have been (I don’t know what they were). Also, I’m beginning Jayber Crow, which I have only read the first few pages of and I am thoroughly excited about it. I enjoy the way Berry shapes phrases and the mental images he conjures. Thanks for the blog post!

John C. Majors said...

Great comments and insight. Let me know what you think of Jayber. One of my faves for sure.

Michael said...

Jayber was great! It took me a long time to finish because I was simultaneously finishing my thesis and attending 2 weeks of Army training. No excuse for not reading, though! The bizarre concept, and yet the beauty, of his secret marriage was intriguing. As well, Berry's discussion of various theological concepts caught my mind. I'm excited to try another of his books, but I don't know which one yet. I'll keep you posted.