Last week, I indulged myself a little and started thinking about old books I love to read. Specifically, a few classic books that were particularly helpful for me as I’ve grown in my faith. But these aren’t the only sorts of classics any of us should read. There are more—a lot more, in fact. Whether for pleasure, knowledge, or spiritual or personal enrichment, we should always be looking for opportunities to expose ourselves to great works of the past. In light of this, I want to share a few more recommendations of various sorts and kinds for your consideration.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Of all the Lewis books I’ve read so far, this one is probably my favorite. Some have criticized it for being overly clever, but that’s what makes it work. You need a special sort of cleverness to pull off what Lewis did in this book, both negatively communicating truth while exposing falsehood. It’s brilliant stuff.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. There isn’t really anything I don’t love about this book. The characters are rich. The plot is compelling. The writing itself makes my heart happy. Read it, then read more Dickens. (A Tale of Two Cities is stunning, as well.)
The Iliad and The Odyssey. Telling the tales of the Trojan War, and the journey of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, as he journeyed home following the fall of Troy, these epic poems are some of the finest works of ancient Greek literature still in existence.[1. Fun fact: though it’s believed these were produced originally around the 8th century BC, the earliest extant copies we have today are from the 10th century AD.]
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Of all the books on this list, this is probably the most difficult to read in the sense that it requires much of you. The book is filled with philosophical discussions of the deepest sort, explored through a tale of patricide in a Russia rapidly moving into the industrial era.
Again, as with my previous recommendations, there are so many others that could be added to the list: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, A Wrinkle in Time, and too many others to mention. The point here is not to be exhaustive, but to give a starting point.