"The Best Books I Read in 2007..." | Ignatius Press Authors, Editors, and Staff | January 1, 2008 | IgnatiusInsight.com"The Best Books I Read in 2007..." | Ignatius Press Authors, Editors, and Staff | January 1, 2008

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We've once again asked a number of Ignatius Press editors, authors, and staff for their picks for the best books they read during the past year (see last year's list). The books didn't have to be published in 2007 (and many weren't), nor did they have to be about a particular topic. Simply, "What were the best books you read in the past year?" Commentary was optional. Here are their answers.



Dale Ahlquist, president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society, author of acclaimed books on Chesterton, including G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense and Common Sense 101: Lessons From G.K. Chesterton, as well as associate editor of the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (Ignatius). He is also the publisher of Gilbert Magazine, author of The Chesterton University Student Handbook, and editor of The Gift of Wonder: The Many Sides of G.K. Chesterton.

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. A lifetime of learning comes together in the most important subject of all. I savored each page.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder. I read this after the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis (near my home). This passage captured much of the feeling here: "The moment a Peruvian heard of the accident he signed himself and made a mental calculation as to how recently he had crossed by it and how soon he had intended crossing by it again. People wandered about in a trance-like state, muttering; they had the hallucination of seeing themselves falling into a gulf."

Lost Treasures of Britain, by Roy Strong. Among other things it gives an honest assessment of the how the dissolution of the monasteries and the destruction of shrines and images cost England most of its culture.

A bunch of P.G. Wodehouse, probably six or eight books, which can be consumed like peanut butter cups, but are even more satisfying. The laughter lingers long afterwards.

Danny Gospel, by David Athey. An entertaining and moving first novel by a Catholic writer published by a Protestant publishing house [Bethany House]. How he snuck it by them, I don't know, but even more mysterious is why he couldn't get a Catholic publisher to publish it.

The Order of Things, by James V. Schall, S.J. A book that takes everything apart and puts it back together.

The Myth of Hitler's Pope, by Rabbi David G. Dalin. A Jewish scholar defends Pope Pius XII against the ridiculous charges that he did not do enough to help the Jews being persecuted by Hitler.

Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, by Christopher Dawson. A glorious study of Medieval civilization. A book that should be read by everyone even remotely connected to education.

Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies—and Why They Disappeared, by Allan C. Carlson. An author who is a non-Catholic and understands Catholic social teaching better than most Catholics do.

Those Days, by E. C. Bentley. A memoir by G.K. Chesterton's best friend, with a wonderful glimpse of the young Chesterton.

The Offbeat Radicals: The British Tradition of Alternative Dissent, by Geoffrey Ashe. Shows how Chesterton influenced Gandhi.

Speaking of Chesterton, I re-read The Man Who Was Thursday, Christendom in Dublin, All I Survey, Sidelights, Chaucer, All is Grist, Four Faultless Felons, Come to Think of It, and The Resurrection of Rome. Plus a lot of uncollected essays. He's a pretty good writer. One of these days I'm going to get serious and read more by him.



Mark Brumley is President of the Board of Directors of Guadalupe Associates and Chief Executive Officer for Ignatius Press. He is associate publisher of IgnatiusInsight.com. He also oversees magazines for Ignatius Press, is project coordinator for the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, and is editor of Ignatius Press's Modern Apologetics Library. Mark is also the author of How Not To Share Your Faith, and a contributor to The Five Issues That Matter Most. Mark lives in Napa, California with his wife and five children.

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I never quite know how to list my reading for the year when Carl asks me to do so. Do I include Ignatius Press books or not? Many of the Ignatius Press books published in the year I read in manuscript form. They are books and I read them, but it still seems odd listing them here. So I have elected not to do so this time.

That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis. Re-read. Upteenth time. Better than ever.

Silas Marner, by George Eliot. Read it for our book club, but since we have not yet met to discuss it, I will withhold comment.

Praeambula Fidei: Thomism And the God of the Philosophers, by Ralph McInerny. I would take issue with certain points regarding de Lubac, but this is still an interesting overview of issues related to natural theology by one of the great Thomists of the late 20th century and early 21st century.

The Keys of the Kingdom, by A.J. Cronin. Interesting novel. Ahead of its time. Some problematic theology here and there but on the whole a good novel.

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. I had never read it before. Loved it. Would read it again at the drop of a hat.

The Jesus Legend, by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd. Good rebuttal to the Jesus Seminar, and the other revisionists.

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. Superb. What else can one say?

Magisterium, by Avery Cardinal Dulles. Probably will become the standard text.

Can We Trust the New Testament? by Mark D. Roberts. Good popular apologetic for the historical reliability of the gospels.

The Missing Gospels, by Darrell L. Bock. Good overview of the "alternative gospels" by a leading Evangelical New Testament scholar.

The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaitre Einstein, And the Birth of Modern Cosmology, John Farrell. A great primer on Lemaitre and his contribution to the Big Bang Theory. A little harsh regarding certain hierarchs but generally sympathetic to the faith and reason dialogue.

There Is A God, by Anthony Flew, Roy Abraham Varghese. An intellectual autobiography by one of the twentieth century's leading philosophical atheists. Despite the controversy over the extent tot which Varghese and others may have influenced the final text, it is clear that Flew's perspective is accurately represented and that his ideas have changed. It is not clear whether he is truly a deist or an uncertain theist. However, it is clear that Flew is no longer an atheist.

The Dawkins Delusion, by Alister McGrath. A nice rebuttal to Richard Dawkin's embarrassing demonstration of his philosophical and theological incompetence in The God Delusion. I say "nice" because McGrath, a leading Evangelical historical theologian, is a "nice" guy in his response to Dawkins, although McGrath does a good job of marshalling his arguments.

The Infinite Book, by John D. Barrow. A fun book on the nature of infinity by a leading physicist and popular science writer.

The Priority of Christ, by Robert Barron. A fascinating read by an up-and-coming theological and spiritual writer.

The Thrill of the Chaste, by Dawn Eden. Dawn's "on point", "right now" take on what's wrong with "Sex in the City".

Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, by Timothy Paul Jones. Good popular work on textual criticism and Ehrman's attack on biblical Christianity based on his claims about textual variants.

I know I read some other more offbeat stuff but either I don't want to divulge the truth to the world and risk "fanboy" cracks or I have forgotten what I read, which probably means it shouldn't be included here.



Journalist and architect Moyra Doorly is the author of No Place For God: The Denial of the Transcendent in Modern Church Architecture, a critique and examination of the banality and ugliness that is evident in so many modern Catholic parishes and cathedrals.

The best books I read in 2007 were, in no particular order:

Status Anxiety, by Alain de Botton. He claims that modern societies are geared to material achievement and induce fear and rivalry in their citizens. The meritocratic ideal is intolerant of those who fail to achieve and brands them as losers, an attitude quite unknown in the Middle Ages. Whatever the problems of the Medieval peasant, they could not compare with the anguish of the unsuccessful American.

Marking the Hours: English People & their Prayers, by Eamon Duffy. Since the Middle Ages is the most maligned period in history and implicit in that view is a criticism of the Medieval Church, I welcome any study of the period which demonstrates that Catholicism in pre-Reformation Europe was vibrant, thriving and loved by the general population. This is a wonderful follow-up to Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars.

The Crisis of Civilization, by Hillaire Belloc. This indictment of the Capitalist system came as something of a surprise, a welcome surprise.

Story of a Soul, by St Therese of Lisieux. This was the first account of the spiritual life that had me laughing out loud with delight. It was also interesting to read that St Therese was not taken to Mass until she was considered old enough. Even at age five she was still too young to attend May devotions.

The Chamber, by John Grisham. This novel about a man on death row whose grandson becaomes his atorney was brilliant and harrowing at the same time. In fact I read twelve John Grisham books in 2007, one after the other. I just couldn't stop.



Catherine Harmon is the managing editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review and Catholic World Report.

The Confessions of St. Augustine. I'm sure I'll be rereading this one for the rest of my life.

Howard's End, by E.M. Forster. Much of Forster's early 20th-century critique of both cultural liberalism and conservatism still rings true today.

The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. An all-time favorite.

The Children of Men, by P.D. James. Skip the goofy movie, read the amazing book.

Aborting America, by Bernard Nathanson. As someone born and raised in the post-Roe v. Wade U.S., I was interested in Nathanson's inside-look at the pro-abortion movement, as well as the story of his eventual change-of-heart.

The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Joseph Ratzinger. Everyone on every side of every liturgical debate should read this book.

Introduction to the Devout Life, by Francis de Sales. A much-needed spiritual kick-in-the-pants.

The Regensburg Lecture, by James V. Schall. Very helpful in wading through all of the hype and outrage surrounding the Pope's controversial speech.



Dr. Thomas Howard is a highly acclaimed writer and literary scholar, noted for his studies of Inklings C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams as well as books including Chance or Dance: A Critique of Modern Secularism, Hallowed be This House, Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament, If Your Mind Wanders At Mass, On Being Catholic, The Secret of New York Revealed, Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome and Dove Descending. He has also produced a video series, aired on EWTN, titled "Treasures of Catholicism." The Night Is Far Spent: A Treasury of Thomas Howard was published by Ignatius Press in 2007. Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author page for a full listing of his books published by Ignatius Press.

The Stricken Deer, by Lord David Cecil. His amazing, elegant, and exquisitly sympathetic life of poor William Cowper, the 18th century poet and hymnologist, written when Cecil was 29. It caused something of a sensation.

Two Quiet Lives, by Lord David Cecil. Cecil's sketches of Dorothy Osborne, and Thomas Gray (the Gray's "Elegy" poet), wonderfully worth reading even if you don't know who the two subjects are. Cecil was Goldsmith's Professor of English at Oxford, and a friend of C. S. Lewis and company. Very amusing man. Member of the astonishing Cecil clan.

The Lyttleton--Hart-David Letters. A 3-vol. collection of letters written between 1955 and 1962, between the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis, and his former Eton "beak" (master) George Lyttleton, of the gold-plated Lyttleton family. Gloriously literate, clever, urbane, flashing letters. The best sort of bedtime reading.

The Coasts of the Country: A Treasury of Mediaeval English Devotional Literature, edited by Clare Kirchberger. A splendid collection of thirteenth to fifteenth century prayers and spiritual writings, very readable and helpful to modern readers—almost, shall we say, required reading? A good, bracing tonic for those whose prayers are flagging.

The Desert Fathers, by Helen Waddell. Her famous small collection of writings from the Egyptian desert hermits of the fourth century. This is very rough and searching stuff. One feels called on the carpet as one reads what these saints have to say.



Dr. Paul Kengor is a professor at Grove City College and the executive director of the College's The Center for Vision and Values. He is also a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Kengor is a frequent television political commentator and opinion page contributor, as well as the author of several best-selling books. He is the author of God and Ronald Reagan, God and George W. Bush, God and Hillary Clinton, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, and co-editor with Peter Schweizer of Assessing the Reagan Presidency. He is the co-author, with Patricia Clark Doerner, of The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand

Books that I've enjoyed in 2007, some of which I read for the second or third time, and not all of which I've finished, include:

America's Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton Sheen, by Thomas C. Reeves (Encounter, 2001).

Life of Christ, by Fulton J. Sheen.

The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton.

A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, by Alexander Yakovlev (Yale University Press, 2002).

Whittaker Chambers, by Sam Tanehaus (Random House, 1998).

Veritatis Splendor and Fides et Ratio, by Pope John Paul II.

The Apostles, by Pope Benedict XVI (Our Sunday Visitor, 2007).

As a curveball (pun intended), I've also enjoyed a baseball book, Leigh Montville's Ted Williams (Broadway, 2004).

Finally, I've just begun M. Stanton Evans' long-awaited, extraordinary re-examination of the life of Senator Joe McCarthy, Blacklisted by History. The book will be dubbed revisionist history, but it is necessary to revise what so many got wrong in the first place. McCarthy certainly was not perfect, but he is nowhere near the raving demon portrayed by leftist journalists and historians. He was also, from what we can tell, a committed Catholic.

For the record, the only book published in 2007 that I actually finished in 2007 was one that I happened to write (with Patricia Clark Doerner), which, yes, is an embarrassingly transparent plug for our book, The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press). Seriously, here's a secret: not every book an author writes is special to the author. This one, however, is.



Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is an alumnus of Calvin College (AB 1959) and Fordham University (MA 1961, Ph.D., 1965). He taught at Villanova University from 1962-1965, and has been at Boston College since 1965. He is the author of numerous books (over forty and counting). In addition to Socrates Meets Descartes, Kreeft's most recent Ignatius Press books include You Can Understand the Bible, The God Who Loves You, and The Philosophy of Tolkien. See his IgnatiusInsight.com author page for full listing if his Ignatius Press titles.

The only two really great new books I read in 2007 were (a) Michael O'Brien's new novel, Island of the World, and (b) Anne Rice's novel Jesus of Nazareth: Out of Egypt.

Michael's book was predictably good, perhaps his best one yet, an intergenerational, long, yet exciting read about the Catholic heroes of Croatia. Michael is spinach.

Anne was a competent trashy novelist, then got converted to the full Catholic faith, and wrote one of the most remarkable books I've ever seen. Like the movie Life is Beautiful, a plot summary sounds absolutely impossible and ridiculous. It is a book supposedly written (or thought) by Jesus Himself as a kid! Yet it works, remarkably well. There is not an inauthentic note in it. I'd rank it third on the all-time list of Jesus fiction, only the third time anyone has successfully written a piece of fiction about Jesus (the first being Dostoyevski's "The Grand Inquisitor" and the second being Lewis's Narnia chronicles (they should be called the Aslan Chronicles).

One movie stands out as memorable: a grainy, almost minimalist pro-life love story, Bella. If you want eight more book titles, they would be classics I read before but read again in order to teach them: Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Ilyitch" and Confession. Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" (yes, that atheist manifesto; it either bowls you over with laughter or sends you screaming into the arms of the Church), Chesterton's St. Thomas Aquinas, Lewis's Till We Have Faces (his very greatest book), Augustine's Confessions (Sheed translation) for the umpteenth time. as well as Plato's "Gorgias" (I think that is Christ's favorite Platonic dialog). If that's only seven, let's add Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy Within, an unusual, challenging, disturbing, a bit over the top, but wonderfully non-liberal perspective on Islam.



Sandra Miesel is a Catholic journalist, medieval historian, and co-author of The Pied Piper of Atheism and the best-selling The Da Vinci Hoax. She holds masters’ degrees in biochemistry and medieval history from the University of Illinois. Since 1983, she has written hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and hagiography. Sandra has spoken at religious and academic conferences, appeared on EWTN, and given numerous radio interviews. Outside the Catholic sphere, she has also written, analyzed, and edited fiction. Sandra and her late husband John raised three children.

Books:

Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present, by Michael D. Bailey. Accurate and up-to-date as well as concise.

Witches and Witch-Hunts, by Wolfgang Behringer. Best recent survey of the subject.

The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban. A richly philosophical children's classic.

The Philosophy of Tolkien, by Peter Kreeft. A spoonful of Middle-earth sugar makes the philosophy go down.

An Experiment In Criticism, by C.S. Lewis. An admirable model for critics.

Preface to Paradise Lost, by C.S. Lewis. An excellent antidote to Philip Pullman.

The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, by Alex Owen. Good cultural history from a feminist perspective.

Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. An exciting and persuasive new interpretation of the Chronicles in terms of planetary symbolism.

Films:

Amazing Grace
Away From Her
The Departed
Into Great Silence
The Lives of Others
Once
Ratatouille



George Neumayr, the editor of Catholic World Report.

I picked up this year Malcolm Muggeridge's two-volume autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time, and enjoyed it very much. It is a consistently funny and perceptive account of the twentieth century's intellectual and moral misadventures, many of which Muggeridge either directly observed or joined. His critics thought two volumes a lot of space to devote to wasted time, but they are worth it: his "wasted time" contained moments of epiphany and experience that compounded over the decades and culminated in his conversion to Catholicism.



Michael O'Brien, born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1948 is a self-taught painter and writer. Both his written work and visual art have been reviewed and reproduced widely. He is an author of several books, notably his seven volume Children of the Last Days series of novels, including Father Elijah, A Cry of Stone, and Sophia House. He is also the author of A Landscape With Dragons, an examination of the phenomenon of contemporary pagan influence in children's culture. Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author page for a full listing of his books published by Ignatius Press.

Before I Go, by Peter Kreeft (Sheed and Ward, 2007). Meditations and whimsical insights compiled as a kind of legacy of mind, heart, and soul to the author's children and grandchildren...and to the coming generations.

Virtuous Leadership, by Alexandre Havard (Scepter Press, 2007). The author is a French-Russian jurist and professor of Law, a devout Catholic. In this book he applies principles of Catholic ethics and spirituality to the public life—business and politics, indeed any position of authority.

Private Revelation: Discerning with the Mind of the Church, by Dr. Mark Miravalle (Queenship Publishing, 2007). A clear, concise, and urgently needed tool for discerning mystical phenomena within the Church. 

The Three Ys Men, by Joseph Pearce (St Austin Press, 1998). A delightful tale of three spirits and an author in Sussex, whose various perspectives reveal the lost gifts of the past, the choices we face in the present, and possibilities for the future. The Pearceonian wit and literary acrobatics give a freshness and immediacy to the compelling insights. 

The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andric, a novel that chronicles the "life" of a bridge and a town in Bosnia, including its Serb, Croat, Muslim, Turkish, Jewish, and Austrian residents. First published in 1946, this book has become a classic, beloved by (amazingly) all peoples of former Yugoslavia--and throughout the world.

Some old and beloved favorites re-read this year:

The Pied Piper, a novel by Neville Shute.

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Gentle, thoughtful, wise meditations on life, motherhood, womanhood, time.

Russia and the Universal Church, by Vladimir Solovyev.

A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, by William Engdahl (revised edition 2004). I've reread this book three or four times during the past few years. It has reshaped my understanding of recent history, and much that is occurring in current international conflicts and global economy.



Carl E. Olson is the editor of IgnatiusInsight.com. He is author of Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today’s Prophecy Preachers (Ignatius Press, 2003), recognized by the Associated Press as one of the best religious titles of 2003, and co-author, with medievalist Sandra Miesel, of The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code (Ignatius, 2004). Carl has written for numerous Catholic periodicals and is a regular contributor to Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register. A former Evangelical Protestant, he has a Masters in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas. Carl lives in Oregon with his wife and two children.

Like Mark Brumley, I also hesitate to list Ignatius Press books. However, a few that stand out to me from 2007 (many of them, alas, only partially read) are Lovely Like Jerusalem, by Aidan Nichols, O.P., Ronald Knox As Apologist by Milton Walsh, Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age by D. Vincent Twomey, In The Light of Christ, by Lucy Beckett, Chance or Purpose? by Christoph Cardinal Schšnborn, and Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church, by Pope Benedict XVI.

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. Anyone wishing to know more about Jesus and the mind and heart of the Holy Father should start here.

The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism, by Robert Barron. An impressive and engaging book that contains many edifying insights into theology, spirituality, and Scripture.

Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, by Francis J. Beckwith. A thorough, judicious work that reveals the numerous philosophical flaws within the entire spectrum of pro-abortion arguments.

Culture Counts, by Roger Scruton. As a I wrote in a review for Saint Austin Review, Scruton's book "is a work that vigorously addresses the essential points and draws emphatic, but careful, lines in the sand."

Small Is Still Beautiful, by Joseph Pearce. A book that dares to ask questions about the meaning of life, politics, and economics that few dare to ask, let alone address, and does so with Pearce's usual clarity and effortless style.

A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto. A former public school teacher, author of Dumbing Us Down and other books, offers more evidence for the failure of public education and arguments for approaching learning in ways that are both new and traditional.

An Unsuitable Job For a Woman, by P.D. James. My first James novel, but certainly not my last.

There Is A God, by Antony Flew, with Roy Abraham Varghese. An intriguing combination of memoir and apologia, especially helpful for those who want a good introduction to the key issues in the debates between theism and atheism.

The Rough Guide to Jazz, by Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, and Brian Priestley. Not as thorough or consistent as the Penguin Guide, but filled with great info and written from the perspective of musicians, not critics.

A Student's Guide to Music History, by R.J. Stove. Part of the ISI Guides to the Major Disciplines series, this is pithy (135 pages), rollicking, and informative, concentrating on classical music.

The Old House of Fear, by Russell Kirk. I've read numerous books by Kirk but this is the first work of his fiction that I've picked up. A fast-moving combination of Gothic, mystery, and thriller.

Reasons for Our Rhymes: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of History, by R. A. Herrera. A very well-written and fascinating overview of different philosophical perspectives on the meaning of history. Worth reading just for the chapter on Joachim of Fiore.

Sovereign, by C.J. Sansom. Set in Tudor England, 1541, this mystery/historical novel offers a tense and well-researched journey into the deadly challenges faced by Catholics (and others) under Henry XIII.

Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, by Craig A. Evans. A helpful guide to the world of modern biblical scholarship, written by a leading Evangelical professor of New Testament studies. Three other fine books along the same lines are Reinventing Jesus, by Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, The Jesus Legend, by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd, and Misquoting Jesus, by Timothy Paul Jones.

Sanctifying the World: The Augustinan Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, by Bradley J. Birzer. I just started reading it a few days ago, but am already impressed this well-researched and much needed book about one of the finest Catholic historians of the past century.



Joseph Pearce has firmly established himself as the premier literary biographer of our time, especially in interpreting the spiritual depths of the Catholic literary tradition. He is the author of acclaimed biographies of G.K. Chesterton, Oscar Wilde, Hilaire Belloc, and J.R.R. Tolkien, and books on English literature and literary converts. He is Writer-in-Residence and Associate Professor of Literature at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, and is the Co-Editor of the St. Austin Review and the Editor-in-Chief of Sapientia Press. Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author page for more about his work and a full listing of his books published by Ignatius Press.

The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, by Dawn Eden (Thomas Nelson, 2006). The title says it all! Dawn Eden exposes the naked truth of sexual secularism.

God is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins, by Thomas Crean O.P. (Ignatius, 2007). A superb exposŽ of the ignorance and bigotry of Dawkins and his ilk.

Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips (Encounter Books, 2006). Demolishes the myth of mutli-culturalism and highlights the Islamo-menace that threatens to engulf England.

The Tower of Shadows, by Drew C. Bowling (Ballantine Books, 2006). An exceptional debut novel in the Tolkienian mode by a promising young author.

Very Good, Jeeves!, by P.G. Wodehouse (Overlook Press edn., 2005, originally published in 1930). Wodehouse is a delight and I concur with the jdgement of Belloc and Waugh that he is perhaps the finest comic writer in the English language. The British television dramatisation of some of these stories starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is also hilarious.

Island of the World, by Michael D. O'Brien (Ignatius, 2007). O'Brien continues to astonish me with the sheer genius of his imagination. Another exceptional novel from his gifted pen.

The Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology, by Elizabeth A. Whittingham (McFarland and Company, 2007). A good and solid addition to the burgeoning field of Tolkien studies. Whittingham doesn't plumb the depths, nor does she offer many incisive new insights, but she does reiterate much that needs reiterating!

J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, edited by Michael D. Drout (Taylor and Francis, 2006). A solid and much needed addition to the above-mentioned burgeoning of Tolkien scholarship. Eight hundred pages on all aspects of the man and his work. A must for any serious Tolkien scholar, though at nearly $200 it requires a great pecuniary sacrifice to add it to one's library!

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3, edited by Walter Hooper (HarperCollins, 2007). The third volume of Lewis's letters. An invaluable resource for Lewis scholars but also a sheer enjoyment to read for fun, as is everything from the pen of Lewis.

Jacobean Shakespeare, by Peter Milward S.J. (Sapientia Press, 2007). Father Milward is a former student of C.S. Lewis at Oxford, and it shows! Milward's critical approach to Shakespeare's plays is often provocative and always thought-provoking.

The Life and Times of William Shakespeare 1564-1616, by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel (Chaucer Press, 2007). This book has all the full-colour visual panache of a coffee-table book and all the solid gravitas of exceptional scholarship. A bibliophile's dream!

John Gerard: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan, translated from the Latin by Philip Caraman S.J. (Family Publicaitons, 2006). Family Publications are to be warmly congratulated for republishing the autobiography of Father Gerard, one of the heroes of the Jesuit underground which fought so heroically to save England's soul from the debauch of the Reformation.

Edmund Campion: Memory and Transcription, by Gerard Kilroy (Ashgate Publishing, 2005). This reads like a scholarly tract, which is to say that it sputters along falteringly and does not make for easy reading. Nonetheless, a new book on the great Jesuit martyr is most welcome.

The Coasts of the Country: A Treasury of Medieval English Devotional Literature, edited by Clare Kirchberger (Roman Catholic Books, 2007). A real treasure chest of the best of English medieval Catholicism.

Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (2 vols.) edited by Coulter, Krason, Myers & Varacalli (Scarecrow Press, 2007). The second encyclopedia on my list but I make no apology for the apparent aridity of my selection. This two volume gem is a veritable ediface of Catholic scholarship; a must for anyone who really wants to understand the social teaching of the Church.

The Night is Far Spent: A Treasury of Thomas Howard, by Thomas Howard (Ignatius, 2007). Perhaps I've saved the best for last. I can't get enough of Thomas Howard and this treasury of some of his best work is a real treat.



Edward Peters has doctoral degrees in canon and civil law. He currently holds the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.

He has authored or edited several books and is the translator of the English edition of The 1917 Pio Benedictine Code of Canon Law. His most recent book is Excommunication and the Catholic Church (Ascension Press, 2006. Read IgnatiusInsight.com interview here.)

His canon law website can be found at www.canonlaw.info.


Here is my list of Top 12 books I've read this past year:

Eugenics and Other Evils (1922), by Chesterton.
The Early Liturgy (1949), by Jungmann (Brummer trans.)
Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu (1958), by Anouilh.
What is Marriage? (1982), by Mackin.
De Sanctionibus in Ecclesia (1986), by de Paolis.
Consecrated Phrases: a Latin theological dictionary (1998), by Bretzke.
"The Story of Human Language" (CD lectures, 2004), by McWhorter.
El Derecho de la Iglesia: curso basico (2005), by Cenlamor & Miras.
Linguistics of American Sign Language (2005), by Valli.
And the Journey Begins (2005), by Axelrod.
Medieval Church Law and the Origins of the Western Legal Tradition (2006), by MŸller & Sommar.
Life Issues, Medical Choices (2006), by Smith & Kazor.

Personally, I encourage intellectuals to keep, and publish, a list of works studied year by year. Here is mine as an example.



Russell Shaw is the author of eighteen books and is the former information director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference and Knights of Columbus. He is also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the father of five and the grandfather of nine. He is the co-author, with Fr. C. John McCloskey, of Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith.

The three best books I read in 2007 were Father and Son by Edmund Gosse, Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, and a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov.

Gosse's memoir of growing up a religious fanatic is a beautifully written account of his relationship with his father, a decent, intelligent man who also happened to be a member of a fundamentalist sect whose doctrines he was intent on imposing upon his son. By implication, it is also a remarkably astute chronicle of the early post-Christian age in the West.

By coincidence, I read Waugh's novel just before reading Pope Benedict's encycical Spe Salvi. It was excellent preparation for the Pope's discussion of the crisis of hope in the West. Published in 1930 and one of Waugh's early, pre-Catholic works, it concerns the frantic and absurd doings of England's Bright Young People in the years between two World Wars. Beneath its brilliant, seemingly frivolous surface, it is a profoundly serious portrait of people without hope.

It would be pointless to praise Chekhov's tales. A story like "The Duel" is a work of genius—and, like the books by Gosse and Waugh, a stunning picture of modernity.



Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. holds both a Ph.D. in Theology and is Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland. A formal doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, Twomey is the author of several books, including Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait), and his acclaimed study of the state of Irish Catholicism, The End of Irish Catholicism?

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI (New York, Doubleday, 2007). This is a book that inspires and informs. It brings the reader close to the mystery of God-made-man by being faithful to the text of Scripture, and by interpreting each text within the context of the entire Bible and against the background of the entire history of scriptural interpretation, which is judiciously used. The author, it seems to me, achieves a kind of Copernican revolution in the field of exegesis by integrating the best of modern exegesis of individual texts into a method that is close to that of the Fathers of the Church, one that is ultimately based on a basic trust in the sacred texts themselves and their many layered meaning.

Spe Salvi, by Pope Benedict XVI (Vatican City: LEV, 2007). This encyclical not only describes the virtue of hope, it gives hope. At the same time, it offers a radical critique of that perversion of hope which underlies modernity, namely belief in earthly progress. The final section is perhaps one of the most spiritual documents ever to come from the pen of a Pope, where Benedict XVI offers three concrete ways for us to deepen the virtue of hope: prayer, suffering, and contemplation of the "last things".

Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine, by Charles Norris Cochrane (New York: Oxford University Press, 1944). This book was on my list of books to be read for some years. This year I finally got to read it, and realized what I had missed all these years. The author has a firm grasp of the world of late antiquity, its achievements, and its underlying thought patterns—as well as its greatness and its basic flaws. He eloquently demonstrates how it ultimately took the genius of St Augustine to resolve the insights and the inner contradictions of the Classical mind by transcending them on the basis of the Trinitarian faith, thereby forging a new synthesis, one that in time forged the great Western European civilization.

The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age, by John Saward (Edinburgh: T & T Clark: 1999; Ignatius Press, 1999). For anyone concerned with pro-life issues but tending to be discouraged because of the prevalence of the culture of death, this book is a "must read". It provides a theological antidote to the contemporary political, scientific, and medical attacks on children at their earliest stage of development and, on the basis of the writings of St Therese of the Child Jesus, C.K. Chesterton, Charles PŽguy, Georges Bernanos and Hans Urs von Balthasar, it offers the key to a contemporary spirituality to match one's political involvement. It helps the reader to recover that spirit of childhood that alone can overcome the power and principalities of this world of spiritual arrogance and death.



Dr. Jose Yulo teaches courses on philosophy, western civilization, United States history, and public speaking at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He has a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco, with an emphasis on the philosophy of education. He also holds a Master's degree in political communication from Emerson College in Boston, as well as a Bachelor's degree in the classical liberal arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD. Originally from Manila in the Philippines, his research interests lie in Greek philosophy, the histories of Greek and Roman politics and warfare, and the literature of J.R.R. Tolkien. He is a regular contributor to IgnatiusInsight.com.

Search for IgnatiusInsight.com articles by Dr. Jose Yulo

That Hideous Strength, The Great Divorce, The Abolition of Man, and The Discarded Image, all by C. S. Lewis.
Lepanto, by G. K. Chesterton.
Culture Counts, by Roger Scruton.
Revolutionary Characters, by Gordon Wood.
The Regensburg Lecture, by Fr. James Schall S.J.



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