I’m really terrible at “favorites” lists. Sorting through an incredible array of things I’ve liked in order to determine those I’ve liked best seems doomed to always produce the wrong answers on later reflection. Invariably I make a list and then realize I forgot something that really should be on the very top of that list. More often I find myself liking things for such different reasons I don’t know how to quantify them. On the other hand, I love the idea of recommendations because I always feel somewhat genuinely disappointed for someone when they haven’t had a chance to experience something awesome that I experienced.
So with that said, I”m starting a new category today called, “If I had to pick…” Of course I don’t really have to pick. I know that no one is actually waiting on reading, watching or selecting a color until they know mine, so in truth I want to pick, but I also want, somewhat neurotically I admit, to make the following caveats.
- This list matches my mood and preferences now and may change tomorrow or next minute if you press me.
- The lists will be parsed in to sometimes ridiculously specific categories.
- The list may or may not be in any particular order (not always my favorite at number one, in other words.)
If I had to pick…my top six favorite books by authors who are known for something else.
The Screwtape Letters
C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnian Chronicles was actually a very prolific writer in everything from sci-fi to apologetics, to poetry. There are a lot of things I could have put here, but this work of satire strikes me as one of the greatest ever. It is both funny and pointed which is much harder to achieve than people often recognize. He manages to maintain the satire throughout without once breaking or sounding a false note. This is not just great christian satire, it is great literature. Period.
The Lost World
Before Jurassic Park, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the original (and best) Sherlock Holmes stories wrote this fanciful story of a lost world full of dinosaurs and pterodactyls. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Sherlock Holmes but Professor Challenger is as eccentric and interesting a character, if not quite as believable.
Playing For Pizza
Ok this one is a little bit of a cheat because I’ve never read it, but my wife selected it and she says that Jon Grisham, known for his legal thrillers spins a good yarn here about a football player trying to redeem his chance after an initial failure. This straight novel definitely fits the list as you’ll find no legal conundrum or dastardly murders on a single page.
The Mind of the Maker
Some of my friends have only heard of Dorothy Sayers as a writer of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. She was also a member of the Inklings, a group of very talented Christian writers which included among others, C.S.Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. Along with her mysteries she is also responsible for a well respected translation of Dante’s Inferno, and this book. The Mind of the Maker is the best analogue for the Trinity I think we are likely to get this side of Heaven. Too brilliant to be summarized well, it’s not at all a long book probably about the length of the first third of a Wimsey story.
On the other hand, you may be one of my friends who right now is saying, I knew about this book, but what are these Wimsey stories he’s talking about? Dorothy Sayer wrote mysteries? -–well, in that case,
Dorothy Sayers is not only a brilliant writer and thinker but also the author of a very popular series of detective stories about Lord Peter Wimsey. These are charming, ingenious, and occasionally provocative. They are not a quick dime store read, but if you like Agatha Christie’s pacing, you’ll likely like these. Speaking of Christie and Sayers they are the two most famous women to be accepted into an otherwise all male club of Sherlock fans, called thenBaker Street Irregulars. At the time of each of their memberships, only one woman at a time was allowed in tribute to Irene Adler.
Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.
Ok I’ll be honest. I like the idea of this book but I’ve never read more than excerpts. It could be complete nonsense, but I know that Newton was frustrated that his commentaries didn’t gain more attention, so I thought he deserved a shot here. At least in kindle form. 🙂
And that’s my list. I hope it inspires you to read something this week. I also hope it inspires you to comment. What would be on your list?