Originally published Feb. 24th 2015.
In response to requests for my top ten list of my favorite books, I supply the following list:
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I freaked out when Crusoe saw the footprint! I loved how he took me on the journey with him. I would also attribute my obsession with survival “stuff” to the wonder I experienced while reading this book, and the questions it led me to ask myself.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I love how the suspense builds and how it portrays the true nature of our lost souls. I see myself in several of the characters. I have also wondered how I would fare on a desert island. Also, it shows the unpleasant necessity of a leader to understand politics — people will not always do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pearl is a child who has to live in the world that her mother’s decisions have made for her. It’s a picture of how we all should be wearing a scarlet letter but just were never caught in the act. It is a picture of a world where there is no compassion even though it is but deeply rooted in religion. A must read for anyone who is a leader in a church (as how not to do things).
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It’s interesting to compare this pre-Civil War book with the next (To Kill a Mocking Bird) in how black and white Southerners work through racial issues. As a southern white male I was able to immerse myself in these novels. They opened my mind and helped me to understand some struggles with this topic in my own life.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I enjoyed seeing a man fight a fight he was doomed to lose, but he fought it anyway. The good man fights the battles no one else is willing to fight. I also love how the allegory (or metaphor?) of the mockingbird is shown at the end of the book. It also is a picture of injustice and justice and how it plays out in a community. People are people wherever you go.
- The Odyssey by Homer. When Odysseus strings the bronze bow, shoots the arrow through the holes, and then the doors close on the hall. I loved it! It is a story of a man who wants to get back to his family — wars fought and won, now the journey home. Will his wife be waiting for him; will she remain true; what is real love?
- Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. I wish I had that kind of quick whit and sharp mind, and was a true romantic. I am none of these but I admire the characteristics in Cyrano. Also, its a love that is willing to wait — even if he has to speak through a puppet he expresses his love. Ugly but intelligent — is there value in brilliance if it doesn’t get you what you want?
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I love the idea of one man memorizing an entire book and being the depository and guardian of that idea. We should always guard the freedom to think new ideas and explore creativity. Bradbury warns of mindless chatter on television and the ideas found in books. This book and several of this genre warn again and again of the dangers of people who seek to control and command what you think.
** 1984 and A Brave New World are in this same genre and are great books as well, only much darker.
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck. A story of how a desperately poor family handles sudden riches. Riches do not bring happiness.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” What happens when power is allowed to go unchecked its’ end result is always the same.
Ok just one more.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I love Twain’s works and his brilliant use of words and whit. He has a way of describing events and characters that are truly enjoyable. The painting of the fence is my favorite scene and helped to develop my understanding of leadership.
*** Please note that I am a Southern Baptist Pastor who has been in ministry close to twenty years, so yes the Bible is the best book ever written. However, I do not put it in such a category because it stands so far above the rest.
Do you have a favorite that is not on my list? Let me know and I’ll put it on my reading list.