So, What Are You Reading?

Barkley reading 2It’s one of the most frequent questions I am asked.  It’s also one of the most frequent questions that I ask of others.  For bibliophiles, the experience of losing oneself in a good book is spiritual.  For most of my adult life, I’ve kept a chronicle of the books I’ve read.  (Alas, I don’t keep track of journal and magazine articles.  Nor do I list the Bible or its consituent books, since I read scripture weekly.)  In mid-2007, my old Compaq computer crashed, and I lost my book list up to that point.  Here, though, is the list of books I’ve read since fall 2007.  (It coincides exactly with my time in Roanoke and Houston.)  Reflecting upon this list, I’m reminded how my interests cleave to theology, religion, and history.  I’m also reminded (as if I needed reminding) that I love the novels and stories of Wendell Berry.  Many of these books were read as part of the various parish book clubs I’ve facilitated.  It’s a satisfying experience to read a good book with thoughtful friends.

I’m a bit surprised by the number of texts to which I return a second–and sometimes third–time.  What we read says much about our interests, passions, and anxieties, and concerns.

So, what are you reading?

Fall 2007-Spring 2008

Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence by John Ferling

Dissolution: A Novel of Tudor England by C.J. Sansom

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula LaGuin

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (read 4th time)

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

Clinging: The Practice of Prayer by Emilie Griffin

“Perfection,” short story by Mark Helprin in The Pacific and Other Stories

The Most Famous Man in America: A Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debbie Applegate

“A Rose for Mary Penn,” short story by Wendell Berry in Fidelity

The Night in Question: Stories by Tobias Wolff

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Read to Griffin:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Summer/Fall 2008

Julius Caesar, by Philip Freeman

Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester

Sovereign, by C.J. Sansom

The Shack, by William P. Young

The Will of God, by Leslie Weatherhead

Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, by Margaret MacMillan

The Celtic Way, by Ian Bradley

Living in Two Kingdoms, by David Adam

Aidan, Bede, Cuthbert: Three Inspirational Saints, by David Adam

The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, by Esther De Waal

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, by J. Philip Newell

Read to Griffin:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling


Winter/Spring/Summer 2009

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland

The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry

Matters of Chance, by Jeannette Haien

Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor

Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy

The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, by Donald Kraybill, et al.

Nathan Coulter, by Wendell Berry

“Fidelity,” short story by Wendell Berry in Fidelity

Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, by Marcus Borg

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

FDR, by Jean Edward Smith

Read to Griffin:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

Fall 2009

Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

The Practicing Congregation, by Diana Butler Bass

Dark Fire, by C.J. Sansom

Liturgical Life Principles: How Episcopal Worship Can Lead to Healthy and Authentic Living,by the Rev. Dr. Ian S. Markham

The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence, the Rev. Dr. Richard Lischer (read 2nd time)

The Life and Thought of Josiah Royce, by John Clendenning

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

Revelation, by C.J. Sansom

We Get to Carry Each Other:  The Gospel According to U2, by Greg Garrett

Spring 2010

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines

Behold I Do a New Thing: Transforming Communities of Faith, by C. Kirk Hadaway

Open Secrets, a memoir by Richard Lischer (read 2nd time)

Stoner, by John Williams

Skeletons on the Zahara, a history by Dean King

Richard & John: Kings at War, a biography by Frank McLynn

A Slight Trick of the Mind, a novel by Mitch Cullin

Summer 2010

After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, by N.T. Wright

The End of Wall Street, by Roger Lowenstein

The Tale of Despereaux, a novel by Kate DiCamillo (at the request of Griffin, who’d read it)

Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife, by Lisa Miller

The Memory of Old Jack, a novel by Wendell Berry

Fall 2010

Cane River, a novel by Lalita Tademy

Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright

Portions of How Different Religions View the Afterlife, ed. by Christopher Jay Johnson

A Whole New Life, a memoir by Reynolds Price

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, a novel by Don Robertson

An Irish Country Christmas, a novel by Patrick Taylor

The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Birth, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan

Winter/Spring 2011

Cutting for Stone, a novel by Abraham Verghese

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, by Thomas Cahill (read 2nd time)

St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, by Philip Freeman

The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning

Men and Brethren, a novel by James Gould Cozzens

The Preaching of the Passion: The Seven Last Words From the Cross, by Peter J. Gomes

The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide, by Gerald R. McDermott

The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

Large portions of In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English, by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton

Theodore Rex, by Edmund Morris (read 2nd time)

Summer 2011

Writing in the Dust: After September 11, by Rowan Williams

Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris

Under the Wings: Reflections in the Book of Ruth, by Samson Gitau

A Separate Peace, a novel by John Knowles

Woodrow Wilson’s Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House, by Godfrey Hodgson

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, by C.S. Lewis

Fall 2011

What Good is God? In Search of a Faith that Matters, by Philip Yancey

For the Aspen Seminar, excerpts from:

  • “An Agreement of the People,” by Anonymous
  • Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle
  • Levianthan, by Thomas Hobbes
  • Human Nature, by Mencius
  • “The Development of the Moral Sense,” in The Descent of Man, by Charles Darwin
  • Politics, by Aristotle
  • The Social Contract, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • The Declaration of Independence (in its entirety)
  • The Challenge of Facts, by Charles Sumner
  • Billy Budd (in its entirety), by Herman Melville
  • The Republic, by Plato
  • The Second Treatise on Government, by John Locke
  • The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, by Ibn Khaldun
  • “The Angostura Address,” by Simon Bolivar
  • The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, by Arthur M. Okun
  • The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir
  • “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” (in its entirety), by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • On Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
  • “The Portable Phonograph” (in its entirety) by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  • “The Spiritual Aim in Life” (in its entirety) by Sri Arubindo
  • The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Analects, by Confucius
  • “The Paradoxes of Sovereignty” (in its entirety) by Karl Popper
  • “Two Concepts of Liberty” (in its entirety) by Isaiah Berlin
  • Antigone (in its entirety), by Sophocles
  • “The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World” (in its entirety) by Vaclav Havel
  • “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (in its entirety) by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Executive’s Compass, by James O’Toole

Outcasts United, by Warren St. John

Miracles, by C.S. Lewis

State of Wonder, a novel by Anne Patchett

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson

Winter/Spring 2012

Struggling with Scripture, by Walter Brueggmann, William C. Placher, and Brian K. Blount (read 2nd time)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

The Killer Angels, a novel by Michael Shaara (read 2nd time)

The Other 80 Percent: Turning Your Church’s Spectators into Active Participants, by Scott Thuma and Warren Bird

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, by David Brooks

The Widower’s Tale, a novel by Julia Glass

Abelard: A Medieval Life, by M.T. Clanchy

Summer 2012

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr

Wolf Hall, a novel by Hillary Mantel

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, by Erik Larson

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens

Bringing up the Bodies, a novel by Hillary Mantel

Fall 2012

The Bible and the New York Times, by Fleming Rutledge

Fall of Giants, a novel by Ken Follett

Let the Great World Spin, a novel by Colum McCann

A Wizard of Earthsea, a novel by Ursula LeGuin (read 2nd time)

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis (read 2nd time)

Unabashedly Episcopalian: Proclaiming the Good News of the Episcopal Church, by Bishop Andy Doyle

The Weird Sisters, a novel by Eleanor Brown

Woodrow Wilson, a biography by John Milton Cooper

Winter/Spring 2013

The Farthest Shore, a novel by Ursula LeGuin

Brendan, a novel by Frederick Buechner

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard

Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences, by the Rev. John W. Price

The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read 2nd time)

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland (read 2nd time)

Summer 2013

Death at La Fenice, a mystery set in Venice by Donna Leon

Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell

His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph Ellis

Love Alone is Credible, by Hans Urs von Balthasar

In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language, by Arika Orent

A Farewell to Arms, by Earnest Hemingway

Fall 2013

The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M.L. Stedman

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour, by Lynne Olson

The Book of Job: A Biography, by Mark Larrimore

Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, by Andrew Carroll

Mere Christianity (books I, II, and III), by C.S. Lewis (read 2nd time)

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Winter/Spring 2014

J.B., Pulitzer Prize-winning play based on the Book of Job, by Archibald MacLeish

The Goldfinch, a novel by Donna Tartt

A Place in Time, a book of short stories by Wendell Berry

Christ of the Celts, by J. Philip Newell

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S.C. Gwynne

The Invention of Wings, a novel by Sue Monk Kidd

Summer 2014

A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918, by G.J. Meyer

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard

The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade, by Philip Jenkins

The Son, a novel by Philipp Meyer

Fall 2014

Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World, by Roger Crowley

Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (read 2nd time)

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