This year was the most productive reading year I’ve had in quite a long time. Trying to read wide and deep and a lot is tough with 4 kids. I’ve known for a long time that the best opportunity for me to read as much as I want is to wake early (around 5-5:30 AM). I can’t read late at night because it puts me to sleep. One new thing I learned this year is that I go through “reading rhythms;” seasons of intense, rapid reading, followed by seasons of drought. Sometimes droughts come because of the workload I am under (such as when I began tutoring in Classical Conversations in August/September, or when I was exhausted from several funerals back in January/February). At other times the droughts come simply because I’ve read so much and need to let my mind rest. It’s as if I can’t fit any more information into my skull. Anyways, I’m looking forward to the 2023 reading year and the stack of books I want to read is already tall.
Here are 5 standouts from the 2022 year:
The Ransom Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
Without a doubt, this was the most impactful book(s) I read this year. Over these three novels, Lewis peels the post-enlightenment/modernist scum from our eyes so that we can see the glory of the universe pointing to the glory of her Maker. (Sidenote: the series has received the popular title of “The Space Trilogy,” a title Lewis without a question would have rejected as antithetical to the entire project.) While you are at it, go purchase Deeper Heaven by Christiana Hale as a commentary to go with the trilogy.
My Southern Journey – Rick Bragg
My rule of thumb is “always read a book by Rick Bragg every chance you get.” Last year I read “Where I Come From,” and was entranced. Bragg, an Alabama native who also lived and worked in New Orleans understands how to express Southern culture through stories, expressions, and voice (I listen to both on audiobook and highly recommend this experience.) Bragg had me reminiscing over my grandmother’s Tupperware and the anathema of store-bought cole slaw.
Heretics & Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton
Ok, two books… but hear me out. Chesterton inspired Lewis and Rich Mullins, two of the most influential Christian artists in my life. Be prepared. Chesterton isn’t the easiest read. At times you may feel mired in niche early-20th Century social commentary but stay with it. There are moments of intellectual and artistic clarity that sear the mind and soul.
“When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship; and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs, with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter.” – Chesteron, in Heretics
My Man Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
What’s up with British authors and their initials? Anyways, listened to My Man Jeeves as well as The Inimitable Jeeves on audiobook this year. Both were masterfully narrated by Jonathan Cecil and I had a rollicking good time reading them. The books tell the mishaps of Bertie Wooster and the eventual rescue that comes from his “man,” or butler, Jeeves.
Out of the Ashes – Anthony Esolen
Reading Esolen’s book, I expected to think deeply about how to rebuild the culture. What impacted me more was considering how much has been lost. From family gatherings to communities taking responsibility for the education of children, much of what made America great has been squandered through reliance on the federal government, the redefinition of everything, and the exaltation of self. This book bordered on the sentimental/nostalgic at times, but then again, even the sentimental is a gift from God which can call us back to what is most basic.