Great Summer Reading Suggestions
Recommended by the BreakPoint Team
By: Megan Schultz|Published: June 26, 2012 3:11 PM
Eric Metaxas (as heard on Wednesday's BreakPoint broadcast).
“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” by Jules Verne. I loved it.
“The Mysterious Island.” by Jules Verne. A novel that's considered Verne's best. It's about five Civil War prisoners who hijack a hot air balloon and are blown by a storm to an uninhabited Pacific island. From scratch, these brave men create their own extraordinary civilization. It's one of the most captivating books I've ever read.
“The Island of Dr. Moreau.” by H. G. Wells. It's about a shipwreck survivor who washes up on a Pacific island, and discovers a terrible secret: A scientist is creating human-animal hybrids. It's a cautionary tale about what can happen when scientists, using cutting-edge technology, throw off all moral restraints in their determination to play God. Sadly, Wells' warnings are needed today far more than they were when he wrote the book in 1896.
“Perelandra,” by C. S. Lewis. About a fictional trip to Venus. It’s just spectacular. As Chuck Colson noted a few years ago on BreakPoint, with “Perelandra,” “Lewis takes us away from the constraints of the world we know and reveals the vastness of God in a way unlike any we have ever known.”
“The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.” by Larry Taunton. Taunton, a brilliant Christian apologist who has debated the likes of Christopher Hitchens, describes how he and his wife adopted a young Ukrainian girl. It's a moving story — and if you ever need a colorful apologetic for the real power of Christian faith, look no further than that book.
“Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family and Freedom Before It's Too Late,” by James Robison & Jay Richards. This book offers an easily understood explanation of why fiscal conservatism and social conservatism are inextricably intertwined. Knowing why we believe what we believe is very important, and this book — a good one for laymen to read — will help you to grasp the connections between the great truths of Christianity.
Here are five of Chuck’s summer reading favorites. For a complete list of books recommended by Chuck, click here.
"The Brothers Karamozov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 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.
"That Hideous Strength" by C. S. Lewis. As with Lewis’s other fiction, the storyline is structured around great Christian themes.
"Father Brown" by 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.
"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.
"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.
"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. If you’re an introvert, this book will let you know that you’re not alone, and you’re not weird. If you’re an extrovert, this book will help you better understand and relate to the introverts in your life.
"The Quarryman's Wife" by Mary DeMuth. A deeply moving Depression-era novel about a family on the verge of falling apart.
"The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene. One of my favorite novels, set during and after World War II, about how the love of God can break into our lives in wholly unexpected ways. Audible, Inc., has just released a new audiobook version with a magnificent reading by Colin Firth. (Don’t listen with the kids in the car; as the title implies, there are sexual themes.)
"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern. An enchanting debut novel about a pair of battling magicians and their protégés. The characterization is thin, but writing and the setting—the magical circus of the title—are so delightful, I didn’t even mind! There's occasional profanity and some sexual references, but nothing too explicit.
"The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman" by Lori Smith. Lori, a former BreakPoint blogger, examines what Jane Austen still has to teach us, in an age that desperately needs her wisdom, sanity, and humor.Roberto Rivera
Roberto has been writing BreakPoint scripts with Chuck Colson for nearly 20 years. Roberto’s column “Internally Displaced Person” is a semi-regular feature at BreakPoint.org.
"Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien. Because there's no shortage of times in my life when I want to give up and, like Frodo, wonder "why me?" And then I think "because, if not you, whom?"
"Jesus of Nazareth", parts I and II, by Benedict XVI. Because in the end, the only bit of worldview that I'm reasonably sure of is that καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετo καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. . . the Word became flesh and made its tabernacle amidst us . . . Which brings me to
"The Resurrection of the Son of God" by N. T. Wright. Because as a cab driver told N. T. Wright, "If God raised Jesus from the dead, the rest is rock and roll."
"God is An Englishman" by R. F. Delderfield. A novel about the industrialization of England in which Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance.
"Exodus" by Leon Uris. Has there ever been a lovelier movie star than the young Eva Marie Saint?David Carlson
"The Great Divorce" by C. S. Lewis. Probably my favorite work by Lewis. A busload of tourists from Hell go on a day trip to Heaven . . . and they can stay if they like. Great story.
"Anatomy of the Soul" by Curt Thompson. What can neuroscience tell us about our spiritual journey as Christians? How does God work through our emotions and memories? This book was an enormous help to me personally as I struggled in the wake of Chuck Colson’s death. Chuck had this to say about “Anatomy of the Soul” in a BreakPoint commentary: “What makes 'Anatomy of the Soul' a great book is how Dr. Thompson takes the science of the brain and applies it to our spiritual well-being—all grounded in biblical Christianity.”
"Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose. I read a lot of American history. And this might be the best history book I’ve ever read. The fascinating story of Meriwether Lewis and the epic Lewis and Clark expedition. The book shed a whole new light on Thomas Jefferson as a man of science. This is a page turner. Ambrose (author of "Band of Brothers") is a fabulous storyteller.
"Champlain’s Dream" by David Hackett Fischer. The amazing biography of Samuel de Champlain, a true Christian explorer, founder of New France. Hackett does a wonderful job describing Champlain’s journeys, struggles—and his love for the Indians of Canada. I wonder what North America would be like today if the English had seen the Native Americans as fellow human beings made in the image of God, the way Champlain did.
"Washington’s Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer. What a writer Fischer is. Gripping military history of George Washington in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the dreadful, fateful winter of 1776 and 1777. I really didn’t understand how close the British were to stamping out the Revolution. Washington’s crossing of the Delaware may have been the most important single event in American military history . . . or American history period. By the way, this book won the Pulitzer Prize.Stan Guthrie
Author, BreakPoint contributor
"Crazy Dangerous" by Andrew Klavan. My teen girl doesn't much like supernatural thrillers, but she loved this one, which examines the intersection of demon possession and schizophrenia, among other creepy topics.
"All That Jesus Asks" by Stan Guthrie. "All That Jesus Asks" slices through the fog of culture and history to place us in an uncomfortable but privileged seat at the feet of Jesus as he teaches and confronts those who would follow him—or challenge him. You will find Jesus’s questions to be both spiritually inspiring and unsettling.
(To see Chuck Colson’s commentary on All That Jesus Asks, click here.)
Manager of the Colson Center Library, research associate for BreakPoint, and writer of feature articles and blog posts for BreakPoint.org.
"The Warden" by Anthony Trollope. Pride and greed go before a fall, as is the case in “The Warden.” Anthony Trollope’s book highlights the danger of misconceived crusades. This is a well-written drama centering around a church-run almshouse for elderly men and its warden, Septimus Harding.
"The Water-Babies" by Charles Kinglsey. Set in Victorian England, Kinglsey's fairy tale features Tom, a mistreated chimneysweep, who is turning out to be a bad little boy until he falls into a stream and starts changing. Kinglsey highlighted the horror of child labor, and the ugliness of people who mistreat of children. Beside the book’s great moral lesson of redemption and restoration, the illustrations are excellent.
"Prisoner of Conscience" by Frank Wolf and Anne Morse. Congressman Frank Wolf’s biography reads like a fast-paced drama. This is a powerful real-life story that illustrates a man acting in obedience to Christ’s call to help defend the oppressed.
"From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics" by Louis Markos. By not reading classic books like Homer and Virgil, Markos maintains, Westerners have begun to cut themselves off from their past; it isn’t healthy. Markos’ provides a helpful introduction to Greek classics.
"Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots" by Thomas S. Kidd. "Give me liberty or give me death!” If you can’t identify this moving quote, it’s time to read Thomas Kidd’s excellent biography of Patrick Henry. Henry, a lawyer, businessman, husband, and father, is also one of the founders of this great nation.David Singer
Former colleague of Chuck Colson who served for years as the official staff photographer of Prison Fellowship
"Allah: A Christian Response" by Miroslav Volf. The author has gotten some press for the course he teaches at Yale with Tony Blair. This book searches out common ground for dialogue between Christians, Muslims, and Jews, although the main focus is on the first two.
"A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. A bit lighter but nevertheless fascinating and refreshingly humble, even a touch ironic, in its assessment of scientific certitude. The following quote gives a sense of how tantalizingly provocative Bryson can be: “One of the biggest surprises in the earth sciences in recent decades was discovering just how early in Earth’s history life arose. . . . Life emerged so swiftly, in fact, that some authorities think it must have had help—perhaps a good deal of help.”
"Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason" by Russell Shorto. An epistemological primer that literally follows the amusing history of Descartes’ bones. Descartes, the father of modernity, gave birth to the contrasting “schools” of rationalism, in which reality emanates from the human mind, and empiricism where reality begins with external world. “. . . In redesigning [the Pantheon], architecturally replacing faith with reason as a source of worship, the revolutionaries created a unique monument, and visiting today gives a feel not only for their motives but for its naiveté and hollowness. . . . In a place like this the idea is driven home to you that reason alone is an empty vessel.”
"American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation" by Jon Meachan. A thoughtful tracing of how religion has guided American civic sensibilities. It articulates a distinction between the role of civic religion and salvific belief and the recurring dangers the country has faced by confusing these. Rewarding insights are offered into how Lincoln’s unchurched yet profound understanding of theology guided him. The premise of the nation was spiritual, not secular, insists Meachan. “We held that all men are endowed by their Creator. . . . In other words, our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply religious faith.”
"Surprised by Hope" by N.T. Wright. For me this brings heaven back down to earth, giving all of this reading a very practical context.Jason Bruce
Jason is in charge of BreakPoint social media and our online bookstore
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Because the movie is coming out this year.
"The Old Man and the Sea" by Errnest Hemingway. Because there’s a boat and fishing in the novel. Classic tough man story.
"The War Against God" by David Kullberg. Political novel by new author David Kullberg. It parallels current events in the U.S. A story of a billionaire funding the media to redefine Christianity and influence a U.S. election sounds very familiar.
"Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World" by Michael Hyatt. Read this to learn new tips on how to expand influence in social media.