Longtime listeners know my book recommendations can be a little on the heavy side. I mean that both literally (they’re big enough to break a toe if you drop them) and academically—they’re big, meaty books. But I have some lighter fare to offer you, as well, so stay with me!
My all-time favorite novel is The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. There’s a murder at the heart of this story. And Dostoyevsky dissects, in fiction, the great moral quandaries debated by philosophers through the ages, which he boils down to one, unforgettable dictum: If there is no God, then everything is permissible.
If you like science fiction, try C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. That Hideous Strength is my favorite. As with Lewis’s other fiction, the storyline is structured along great Christian themes.
If you’re in the mood for a good mystery, you can’t go wrong with the Father Brown stories, written by the great Christian social critic G.K. Chesterton. Follow his clean, clear logic as Father Brown solves his cases, proving that if you immerse yourself in God’s truth, you’ll become a more rational thinker.
If you are preparing to send your high school graduate off to college and find yourself a little concerned that his faith might be mocked on campus, I have a suggestion for you. Arm him with a copy of The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark. Stark describes how Christianity’s emphasis on reason led to the rise of Europe, and how our ideas about democracy and equality stem from the central teachings of Christianity. Stark also shows how the belief that reason “was the supreme gift from God” led to the rise of modern science.
In this age of the Internet, television, and film—much of which causes divisiveness and parental anxiety—the benefits of reading are one thing we can all agree on. Yet as important as reading is, books can carry dangers of their own if we are not discerning about what we read.
Dr. Benjamin Wiker demonstrates this in a book entitled 10 Books That Screwed Up the World. Wiker explains, “Common sense and a little logic tell us that if ideas have consequences, then it follows that bad ideas have bad consequences. And . . . if bad ideas are written down in books, they are far more durable, infecting generation after generation.” The best way to inoculate ourselves against literary germs, he says, is to read them and discuss them with discerning Christians. Christians with a biblical worldview can be invaluable in bringing a perspective to bear in dismantling these false ideas.
Finally, if you know someone graduating from college this month—especially if he or she is not a Christian—gift-wrap a copy of Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. This book was instrumental in my own conversion. And it’s tough for a thinking person to deny Lewis’s logic.
So there you go. Some good books for summer reading. Take them to the beach with you—and no, don’t just use the Brothers Karamazov to hold down the beach blanket. Read it. It will nourish your mind and replenish your soul.
And be sure to visit our website, BreakPoint.org. Our staff has assembled some more suggestions for great summertime reading.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.