10 Personally Influential Books

I’ll give in to the 10 books “meme,” as a friend would call it, that’s going around. Scripture excluded so as to avoid the obviousness/duty conundrum. I can’t say that these are the 10 most influential books I’ve ever read, because they probably aren’t, but my mind is just no good at registering that kind of thing, so it can’t be helped

1) The Art of Prayer: an Orthodox Anthology — Excerpts primarily from the Philokalia and St. Theophan the Recluse, who translated it into Russian; it was reading this that prompted the “tiny epiphany” from my other essay Spiritual Dissonance, that a) some people actually can talk about the numinous as though it were a science and be truthful on both sides and b) silence is good.

2) Les Miserables, Victor Hugo — This may be the first “great book” I read; it was important to me because even though it was a long slog, there were bits of light hidden there that made it worth while. Besides, I got to improve me nerdy cred as “one who reads grown-up books,” which can be important to a 13 year old.

3) Redwall, Brian Jacques — It wasn’t so much the books themselves that were important — even at the time I thought them rather silly and redundant, though no less fun for that — as the discovery of the existence of online book clubs, which is essentially how I spent my time instead of doing Jr. High.

4) Orthodoxy, G K Chesterton — Life is a fairy tale…

5) The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky — I don’t remember how influential the book itself was, though it is brilliant. I always include it anyway, on account of family solidarity.

6) The Abolition of Man, C S Lewis — I’m not sure this was influential in a good way. It doesn’t lead to balanced studentry to become convinced that you may be contributing to the destruction of your students souls… nevertheless….

7) For the Life of the World, Fr. Alexander Schemamann — Sacramental theology is the best. No, really… don’t believe me? Try reading this book.

8 ) The Aenead, Virgil — “Old books are cool too.”

9) King Arthur and his Knights, Howard Pyle — “And Sir Gawain rose up like a mighty boar and gave Sir Dineden a mighty buffet upon the pate” (not a real quote); ah, so much fun…

10) Descent Into Hell, Charles Williams — I had no idea what he was saying half the time, but somehow it was really cool anyway. Apparently Christians actually believe in co-inherence; who would’ve thought?


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