Author Topic: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read  (Read 5728 times)

Offline TheReturnofLive

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What books, outside the realm of Theology and Church history, what classics do you recommend reading, and why?

By books not to be discussed in this section - "theology" and "Church history", I don't mean books that are existentialist and talk about God's existence, or even a book where Christianity is thematic- I mean books that are directly and explicitly about Christianity, Church history, theology, apologia, etc.

I'll start with a couple of mine. They are arguably not the most dense / artsy books, but they are books where, upon reading, I was like "Yep, almost everything this guy says is superb, and I can't really argue against it."

Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." These were two essays by the 19th century French diplomat, Alexis de Tocqueville, who was visiting America to learn about how France could be successful from it and where it couldn't be. While he was there to learn about what America did well, he had clear sympathies to the French Monarchy before the Revolution, and therefore, gives a very objective reading and comparison of American and French society. Not only are his observations about American society spot on such that they are relevant to this day, but I think many of his ideas on human nature were so revolutionary that they forever changed the fields of Psychology and Sociology.

Huxley's "Brave New World." This book was by philosopher (and libertine) Aldous Huxley, and describes a society years from now where there is a strict crony-capitalist totalitarianism and biologically real hierarchical structure, and human beings who aren't at the very top are stuck in an uneducated pleasure society where their lives are dictated by purposeless sex, food, entertainment, drugs (pleasure pills called "Soma"), where the family unit is abolished and the society is constructed towards efficiency. There are remnants of prior civilizations in what are known as the "Savage Reservations," where, despite the fact that the Savages have forgotten the past, they still try to maintain the traditional norms of religion, God, chivalry, family, suffering, culture. The book's plot is that a woman from the pleasure "Brave New World" is left behind in the Savage Reservation and she gives birth to a son there named "John," who is raised on the Savage Reservation and grows up there, but then is taken back to the "Brave New World" (which is what John calls it, quoting Shakespeare), where a clash of the two civilizations occurs. The book says a lot about human nature and the growing industrialization/pleasure society that Huxley felt that the world was heading towards.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 06:33:48 PM by TheReturnofLive »
 
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Offline Gardener

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 11:37:22 PM »
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird. Vivid imagery, typically erudite Victorian era British author, but with the benefit of the book being composed from her letters home (so not stuffy). I own several copies just to lend it out.

“The Modern Attack will not tolerate us. It will attempt to
destroy us. Nor can we tolerate it. We must attempt to destroy it as being the fully equipped and ardent enemy of the Truth by which men live. The duel is to the death.” - Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies
 
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2020, 12:39:30 AM »
I've read Brave New World at least a couple times (once in high school [I'm ancient], once on my own very recent initiative), and de Tocqueville (in college [that was ancient history too]; loved it, much more  pleasant reading than BNW). MONTHS ago I picked up "A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains" on Kindle, on Gardner's recommendation: BUT I HAVEN'T READ IT YET!

So I have some good inclinations but a problem with follow-through when it comes to taking suggestions!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 12:47:29 AM by Non Nobis »
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee! Save souls!
 
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Offline Davis Blank - EG

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2020, 06:53:03 AM »
Tolstoy - Anna Karenina, War & Peace
Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2020, 12:10:49 PM »
Non-fiction

The Great Transformation - Karl Polanyi

Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economies - Karl Polanyi

The Culture of Narcissism - Christopher Lasch

Revolt of the Elites - Christopher Lasch

True and Only Heaven - Christopher Lasch

(Anything by Christopher Lasch)

Suicide of the West - James Burnham

Leviathan and Its Enemies - Sam Francis

The Invention of Art - Larry Shiner

The Geography of Nowhere - James Howard Kunstler

Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman

Black Swan - Nassim Taleb

The Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt

The Seven Lamps of Architecture - John Ruskin

The Stones of Venice - John Ruskin

On Art and Life - John Ruskin

Fiction

The Greater Trumps - Charles Williams

The Worm Ouroboros - Eric Rucker Eddison

The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope

Fifty-One Tales - Lord Dunsany

Dying Earth Saga - Jack Vance

Odd John - William Olaf Stapledon

Book of the Dun Cow - Walter Wangerin Jr.

Voss - Patrick White

And the greatest novel of all time, Quo Vadis - Henryk Sienkiewicz
 

Online Daniel

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2020, 07:46:05 PM »
I don't read much. But here are some:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Good fiction, about a girl who goes to wonderland. I think this book's point is to make fun of bad philosophies, though I'm not entirely sure. But I find the nonsense logic to be clever and entertaining.

Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll - Good fiction, about a girl who has to make her way through the world which is a chessboard. Not sure what the deeper meaning is. (This is a direct sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, though it stands as a completely separate story.)

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen - Good fiction, about the mermaid who wants eternal life. So she makes a deal with the devil which completely backfires. The story ends almost like a tragedy, but with a nice twist.

The Etymologies of Saint Isidore - I believe that this is one of the first encyclopedias ever written. It's called 'the etymologies' because St. Isidore includes a lot of interesting etymologies / folk etymologies.

The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo - Horapollo was one of the last Egyptians to know much about hieroglyphics, so he wrote this book which explains the meanings, some of which literal but others are more mythic. (Book I is good. Book II is garbage, probably a forgery written much later by someone who knew nothing about hieroglpyhics.)

The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss - Explains how all the ancient myths in the stars point to the gospel.

The Game of Logic by Lewis Carroll - Interesting logic textbook. (It's much closer to Aristotelian logic than to modern logic.) Instead of Venn diagrams, it uses a sort of miniature game board.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 06:55:06 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Gerard

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2020, 12:50:15 AM »
I like Classical music biographies.  It's a great way to learn history from a particular and unique perspective instead of regular histories with their focus on politics with wars as markers. 

Harold Schonberg's books are really well written and engaging and easy reading. 

Lives of the Great Composers (essential reading.  Short biographies of all of the major composers.).

The Virtuosi -singers, conductors and instrumentalists. 

The Great Pianists

Facing the Music (out of print) -collected columns from the New York Times. 

Probably the person that provides the greatest biography of any composer is Franz Liszt.  He had one of the most extraordinary lives ever lived. 

The best of the many biographies about him is the three volume set by Alan Walker along with supplements like "Reflections on Liszt" and biographies of his associates like Hans Von Bulow.

There are also great biographies of Liszt by Derek Watson and Sacheverell Sitwell.  But Walker's biographies are far better researched and debunk a few items in the earlier biographies. 

One of the best advantages of living today vs 20 years ago is the fact that you can read about a performance, a piece of music or something described and then look it up, view it and/ or listen to it.   



 
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2020, 01:59:25 AM »
Tolstoy - Anna Karenina, War & Peace
Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov

I suggest Dostoyevsky - Crime and Punishment (to get started with something shorter).
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee! Save souls!
 
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Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2020, 03:33:45 PM »
I read "Gone With the Wind" and couldn't put it down; much better than the movie.
Hated Brave New World.
Ayn Rand's "Anthem" about a future egalitarian/totalitarian society; short and fantastic; much better denunciation of the e/t mindset than Animal Farm or 1984.
"Lord of the Rings"; still one of my all time favorite books; also a "could not put down"; read it so many times that I can't look at the books any more, practically.
War books: Red Platoon (Afghanistan); A different kind of war (Korea); Lone Survivor (Afghanistan). I've read a lot of military history books, but this is a good short list.
More fantasy: I've read a lot of Fantasy, mostly disappointed, because they were not TLOTR; However, I did enjoy the "Shanara"  books, as he is constantly paying tribute to Tolkien's masterpiece. Brandon Sanderson has a good reputation; I've only read the last three books of the "Wheel of Time" series that he finished for Robert Jordan; and I thought he did a great job.
Generally, I've never liked "serious" fiction, can't get into it.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 

Offline coffeeandcigarette

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2020, 05:04:22 PM »
Middlemarch

Everyone should read this. I think reading books where human nature and various common personalities are portrayed so perfectly is a benefit. I think it is an education which gives the reader a short-cut right through human respect and naivety to mature realistic expectation and no-nonsense dealings with humanity. A spiritual aid to be sure, and also, a fantastic read.
 
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Offline Traditionallyruralmom

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2020, 07:42:58 PM »
Silas Marner....there is an excellent reading on YouTube and the movie is a faithful adaptation

Anything by Jane Austen
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
 
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Offline Gerard

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2020, 07:55:37 PM »
Robert Greene's books:

The 48 Laws of Power

The Art of Seduction

The 33 Strategies of War

Mastery

Good Histories and studies of human behavior. 
 
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2020, 08:54:01 PM »
Silas Marner....there is an excellent reading on YouTube and the movie is a faithful adaptation

Anything by Jane Austen

When I was young I  read most everything fictional in the house but for some reason I missed Silas Marner.  I also read almost every book by Charles Dickens in the house or outside, but missed Tale of Two Cities (don't ask me how).   Since I discovered them later those two books (and movies about them) have been near the top of my lists.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 08:55:40 PM by Non Nobis »
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee! Save souls!
 

Offline Machaut1377

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2020, 09:18:27 PM »
If a person wants to understand the origins of American culture he or she should read Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer.

Anyone wanting a good story might enjoy Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
 

Offline red solo cup

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Re: Specifically non-theological classics you recommend people to read
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2020, 06:39:01 AM »
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
"It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry"
 
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