An Experiment in Criticism
Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? C. S. Lewis's classic An Experiment in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. He argues that "good reading," like moral action or religious experience, involves surrender to the work in hand and a process of entering fully into the opinions of others: "in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself." Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind. Amid the complex welter of current critical theories, C. S. Lewis's wisdom is valuably down-to-earth, refreshing and stimulating in the questions it raises about the experience of reading.More info →
From Amazon: "Cicero called Herodotus "the father of history," and his only work, The Histories, is considered the first true piece of historical writing in Western literature. With lucid prose, Herodotus's account of the rise of the Persian Empire and its dramatic war with the Greek city sates set a standard for narrative nonfiction that continues to this day. Illustrated, annotated, and filled with maps—with an introduction by Rosalind Thomas, twenty-one appendices written by scholars at the top of their fields, and a new translation by Andrea L. Purvis—The Landmark Herodotus is a stunning edition of the greatest classical work of history ever written."More info →
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had
The enduring and engaging guide to educating yourself in the classical tradition.
Have you lost the art of reading for pleasure? Are there books you know you should read but haven’t because they seem too daunting? In The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer provides a welcome and encouraging antidote to the distractions of our age, electronic and otherwise.
Newly expanded and updated to include standout works from the twenty-first century as well as essential readings in science (from the earliest works of Hippocrates to the discovery of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs), The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of six literary genres―fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry, and science―accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each chapter―ranging from Cervantes to Cormac McCarthy, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Aristotle to Stephen Hawking―preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.
The Well-Educated Mind reassures those readers who worry that they read too slowly or with below-average comprehension. If you can understand a daily newspaper, there’s no reason you can’t read and enjoy Shakespeare’s sonnets or Jane Eyre. But no one should attempt to read the “Great Books” without a guide and a plan. Bauer will show you how to allocate time to reading on a regular basis; how to master difficult arguments; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre―what does Anna Karenina owe to Madame Bovary?―and also between genres.More info →
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
From Amazon: "
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the U.S. and is said to have "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War".
Stowe, an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.
It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, "So this is the little lady who started this great war." "More info →
Orthodoxy (1908) is a book by G. K. Chesterton that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. Chesterton considered this book a companion to his other work, Heretics.
In the book's preface Chesterton states the purpose is to "attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it." In it, Chesterton presents an original view of Christian religion. He sees it as the answer to natural human needs, the "answer to a riddle" in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.More info →
From Amazon: "
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.
Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America."More info →
Progymnasmata: Greek Textbooks of Prose Composition and Rhetoric
For students of classical, medieval, and early modern literature and of the history of education, Kennedy (classics emeritus, U. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) presents and comments on four Greek treatises for teaching prose composition and elementary rhetoric. They were written during the time of the Roman Empire and studied throughout the Byzantine period; Latin translations of some were used across Europe during the Middle Ages; and one was translated into English in 1563.More info →
From Amazon: "Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab's quest to avenge the whale that 'reaped' his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab s appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each. Among the crew is Ishmael, the novel's narrator, ordinary sailor, and extraordinary reader. Digressive, allusive, vulgar, transcendent, the story Ishmael tells is above all an education: in the practice of whaling, in the art of writing."More info →
"Augustine's fourth-century spiritual autobiography not only is a major document in the history of Christianity, a classic of Roman Africa, and the unchallenged model through the ages for the autobiographical record of the journey to self-knowledge, it also marks a vital moment in the history of Western culture.
As Augustine explains how, when, and why he became the man he is, he probes the great themes that others were to explore after himCfaith, time, truth, identity, and self-understanding--with a richness of detail unmatched in ancient literature. Dense with vivid portrayals of friends, family, colleagues, and enemies, The Confessions chronicles the passage from a life of sensuality and superstition to a genuine spiritual awakening--in a powerful narrative of one man's inner education that continues to shape the way we think and act today."More info →
On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts
"This is not a book about Saint Augustine. In a way, it's a book Augustine has written about each of us. Popular speaker and award-winning author James K. A. Smith has spent time on the road with Augustine, and he invites us to take this journey too, for this ancient African thinker knows far more about us than we might expect.
Following Smith's successful You Are What You Love, this book shows how Augustine can be a pilgrim guide to a spirituality that meets the complicated world we live in. Augustine, says Smith, is the patron saint of restless hearts--a guide who has been there, asked our questions, and knows our frustrations and failed pursuits. Augustine spent a lifetime searching for his heart's true home and he can help us find our way. "What makes Augustine a guide worth considering," says Smith, "is that he knows where home is, where rest can be found, what peace feels like, even if it is sometimes ephemeral and elusive along the way." Addressing believers and skeptics alike, this book shows how Augustine's timeless wisdom speaks to the worries and struggles of contemporary life, covering topics such as ambition, sex, friendship, freedom, parenthood, and death. As Smith vividly and colorfully brings Augustine to life for 21st-century readers, he also offers a fresh articulation of Christianity that speaks to our deepest hungers, fears, and hopes."More info →
The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade
"In her earlier work, The History of the Ancient World, Susan Wise Bauer wrote of the rise of kingship based on might. But in the years between the fourth and twelfth centuries, rulers had to find new justification for their power, and they turned to divine truth or grace to justify political and military action. Right began to replace might as the engine of empire.
Not just Christianity and Islam but also the religions of the Persians, the Germans, and the Mayas were pressed into the service of the state. Even Buddhism and Confucianism became tools for nation building. This phenomenon―stretching from the Americas all the way to Japan―changed religion, but it also changed the state.
The History of the Medieval World is a true world history, linking the great conflicts of Europe to the titanic struggles for power in India and Asia. In its pages, El Cid and Guanggaeto, Julian the Apostate and the Brilliant Emperor, Charles the Hammer and Krum the Bulgarian stand side by side. From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the Song Dynasty, from the mission of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, from the sacred wars of India to the establishment of the Knights Templar, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled."More info →
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
"The Well-Trained Mind will instruct you, step by step, on how to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school―one that will train him or her to read, to think, to understand, to be well-rounded and curious about learning. Veteran home educators Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise outline the classical pattern of education called the trivium, which organizes learning around the maturing capacity of the child’s mind and comprises three stages: the elementary school “grammar stage,” when the building blocks of information are absorbed through memorization and rules; the middle school “logic stage,” in which the student begins to think more analytically; and the high-school “rhetoric stage,” where the student learns to write and speak with force and originality. Using this theory as your model, you’ll be able to instruct your child―whether full-time or as a supplement to classroom education―in all levels of reading, writing, history, geography, mathematics, science, foreign languages, rhetoric, logic, art, and music, regardless of your own aptitude in those subjects."More info →