Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Top 5 Authors I’ve Never Read Before

The first installment in my “Top 5” series is inspired by my recent review of Dorothy Sayers’ novel The Five Red Herrings. I had always heard that Sayers was a good author and this was the first book I read by her. As you can tell by my review, I did not like the book but I’ve heard too many good things about her to quit now and many other people have written that Herrings is her worst book. Below is a list of other authors whom I have never read.

5. Madeleine L’Engle

I have always enjoyed so-called “young adult” fantasy and science-fiction books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter books. But somehow, despite their popularity, I never got around to reading A Wrinkle in Time, the classic award winning novel by Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve heard different things about whether or not the books reflect a Christian worldview, but I won’t know for sure until I read it myself.

4. G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton was a Christian writer famous for both non-fiction works like Orthodoxy as well as novels like The Man who was Thursday. He seems to get quoted a lot and C.S. Lewis loved his works.

3. Francis Schaeffer

Schaeffer is another Christian writer who gets quoted a lot. I’ve read that he wrote passionately about the relationship between Christianity and the arts, which definitely makes me curious. Some of his books include The God Who is There and How then Should We Live?

2. Virgil

I recently read a great article about the necessity of reading the classics, by which the author meant the ancient Greek and Roman works including Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid. I may know parts of the plot of The Iliad and The Odyssey but I’m not so sure when it comes to The Aeneid. Luckily, a recent translation by Robert Fagles has been getting outstanding reviews so maybe this is my big chance to finally read a genuine classic.

1. Fyodor Dostoevsky

There are two types of people in this world, those who love long Russian novels and those who have never finished one. OK, I’m sure that there are some people who have read Crime and Punishment or War and Peace and just didn’t like them. Usually, people avoid long novels just because of the length. I’m sure that changed a little bit after Oprah picked Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as one of her book club selections. Anyway, I read that Dostoevsky’s novels are of particular interest to Christians so I’m determined to read one. I’ve already bought a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and hopefully will start it sometime this year.


ephphatha said...

I've got a Francis Schaeffer trilogy that includes The God Who Is There, Escape From Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent. You're welcome to borrow it sometime.

Jeremy Wait said...

5. I've always like Madeleine L'Engle. Of course, it is always hard to go back and tell if I would still like her if I read her first as an adult, but as a child, her stories were significant. I especially liked A Swiftly Tilting Planet, but you can't read them out of order.

4. G.K. Chesterton seems to be the kind of author that I should like, but don't. I've read The Ball and the Cross and The Man Who Was Thursday, largely on the recommendation of a book on modern Christian mythmakers. His stories are supposed to be funny, but they just don't make sense to me (Thursday) or they turn into a dry doctinal debate (Ball and Cross).

3. I've liked the Schaeffer stuff that I've read, though I've heard that it is pretty soft stuff for philosophy (which is probably part of why it appealed to me). That is part of what got me interested in Christian history and how the Evangelical movement has anti-intellectual roots that influence it to this day. He advocated using your gifts for God, mainly in the context of the arts, but also intellectually.

2. We had to read a little Virgil for school. Plot-wise, it seemed to borrow very heavily from Homer, so I wasn't particularly impressed. He must have been a crackerjack poet to make it seem new and fresh even at the time.

1. We've talked about Russian novels before. I read Crime and Punishment and hated it. I haven't tried a Russian novel since. If I think of it more critically, I have a hard time discriminating whether it was because I disliked the story so strongly, or because I had a bad translation (and I did have a bad translation). For one thing, I find the whole dark Russian worldview a little off-putting. Then the book is about a despicable character who commits a gruesome murder, not exactly a hero I can cheer for. Strangely enough, I also hated him for not being able to stick to his plan. You shouldn't commit a murder, but, if you do, don't crack up and confess to a cop who suspects, but has no evidence on you. What a wimp! Some of the very things that I found distasteful in the plot appealed to ephphatha, though, so my aversion may be deeper than the lousy translation.