"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good
poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable
The hilarious tales of P.G. Wodehouse, one of
the greatest English prose stylists of the 20th Century. Begin with
the “Jeeves” series of novels. For example, Jeeves and the
Tie that Binds.
The mystery novels of Dorothy Sayers, Josephine
Tey, Rex Stout, S.S. Van Dine, Ross MacDonald, and Ralph McInerny.
C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, beginning with
Out of the Silent Planet, and continuing with Perelandra, and That Hideous
Strength. Anything else by C. S. Lewis. If you haven’t read The
Chronicles of Narnia, do so. They’re not just for children. Tremendous
feel for the deepest truths of Christianity expressed through an equally
J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings. Ditto.
Paul Johnson, Modern Times. A lively and instructive
history of the 20th Century.
Robertson Davies, A Mixture of Frailties. A wonderful
novel about a gifted music student and her teacher.
Abraham Lincoln, by Lord Charnwood. Or the life
by Benjamin P. Thomas.
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, The Thanatos Syndrome,
Lost in the Cosmos, or anything else. You will love Walker Percy. One
of the unknown great thinkers of the 20th Century.
The biography in progress of Lyndon B. Johnson
by Robert Caro. The latest volume, just published, is Master of the
Senate. The first two volumes, Path to Power, and Means of Ascent, are
masterpieces of the genre, wonderful evocations of place and time, and
incisive studies of political power.
The Woman In White. One of my favorite Victorian
novels, by Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Dickens.
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. An account
of the Battle of Gettysburg from the standpoint of the participants.
The best work of historical fiction you will ever read—and the
Lanterns on the Levee, by William Alexander Percy.
Percy’s autobiography. A beautiful and noble evocation of the
best in the southern tradition, as well as a portrait of an aristocratic
soul maddened by modernity.
Five Days in London: May 1940, by John Lukacs
The Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas. Videos are
available. The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance are the ones commonly
performed, but try Iolanthe, my favorite. All are wonderful.
The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Start
with Swing Time and Shall We Dance, the best two. Invigorating, lovely,
even inspiring. (“Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all
The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester.
A quirky out of the ordinary tale of the composition of the Oxford English
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. Waugh,
like Wodehouse listed above, is a master of English prose.
Faith and Treason, by Lady Antonia Fraser. A
book about religious persecution, and a useful tale as well.
The Student Prince. A Sigmund Romberg Operetta.
Try the video of the movie, with Mario Lanza, or a CD.
Augustine of Hippo, by Peter Brown. A fascinating
and readable account of St. Augustine and his times. Much like our own.
One of the best biographies I have ever read.
The books on Churchill by Martin Gilbert (there
And read Churchill himself. Begin with My Early
Life, an autobiography written in middle age of what he did when he
was your age. And go from there. Probably the World War II histories
would interest you the most as a start.
Our Country From Roosevelt to Reagan, by Michael
Barone. The best political history of America from the 30’s through
Allen Drury, Advise and Consent. A novel that
led many in my generation to a fascination with politics in their youth.
“Bright Day Star” by the Baltimore
Consort. A Great Christmas CD.
Peter Ackroyd, Life of Thomas More
Soundtrack to “Little Women”
Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where
Civilizations Collide. This is the new book by a French scholar on the
history and methods of Islamic persecution of Christians and Jews under
the rule of the Shari’a, the Islamic law. A previous book is The
Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam.
Steven Hayward, The Age of Reagan. Volume One
of a projected two part work, and just published, this will give you
a real sense of the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960’s
David Brooks, Bobo’s In Paradise. Bobo’s
stands for “Bourgeois Bohemians.” Brooks is a liberally
educated journalist who has written THE book on the new American ruling
elite. Very funny and extraordinarily enlightening at the same time.
Recommended by my contemporary political thought students.
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy and/or The Everlasting
Man. The great English Christian apologist, social critic, and critic
Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State.
A new and authoritative book by a University of Chicago Law School Professor
on how the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment came to mean
“separation” of church and state. The rare book that is
scholarly and highly readable at the same time.
Leon Kass, Life, Liberty, and the Defense of
Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics. The latest collection of essays
by the most profound ethicist living, about biotechnology (“making
life”), our new age—but really about what’s better
about the human nature we’ve always had.
Peter Augustine Lawler, Aliens in America: The
Strange Truth About Our Souls
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
Happy aristoi in love (mostly).
Whit Stillman, The Last Days of Disco. Doomed
bourgeois in love.
Max Boot, Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and
the Rise of American Power
Read at least one journal of opinion regularly.
Examples would be The Weekly Standard or The New Republic. Also read
one major newspaper regularly. On the internet you can read the Washington
Times and The Washington Post and get two different views direct from
our nation’s capital.