I’ve been putting together a summer reading list lately and I’ve come up with a nice little collection. Ten is a nice round number, though I am open to adding a few more. So I present my list here to hopefully start a conversation about what others are reading in hopes of maybe finding new interesting titles. I have already started the first, so perhaps this is a spring/summer reading list. Either way, here we go:
by David Hicks
First published in 1981 when it won the American Library Association’s Outstanding Book Award, Norms & Nobility has become a classical text in the educational reform movement. Beginning with the premise that any vital system of education must maintain the link between thought and action, knowing and doing, David Hicks offers a compelling argument on behalf of the classical tradition and its ongoing relevance to contemporary pedagogy. The large and loyal following that this argument has attracted among administrators and teachers over the years bears witness to the practical wisdom of Hicks’ ideas.
by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain
This new book introduces readers to a paradigm for understanding classical education that transcends the familiar three-stage pattern of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Instead, this book describes the liberal arts as a central part of a larger and more robust paradigm of classical education that should consist of piety, gymnastic, music, liberal arts, philosophy, and theology. The book also recovers the means by which classical educators developed more than just intellectual virtue (by means of the seven liberal arts) but holistically cultivated the mind, body, will, and affections.
A must-read for educators wanting to take a second big step toward recovering the tradition of classical education.
”The foundational distinction between traditional education and modern education is that the ancients believed that education was fundamentally about shaping loves.”
”Just look at this book’s table of contents to see how much is included in this. It’s more than the old ‘seven liberal arts,’ but it builds on them. It is an education of the whole person, not just the calculating intellect. But it is not less ‘intellectual’ for that, but more so. . . . This little book is a description of that educational program. It’s precious because children are precious.” -from the forward by Peter Kreeft, Boston College
by Stratford Caldecott
What is a good education? What is it for? To answer these questions, Stratford Caldecott shines a fresh light on the three arts of language, in a marvelous recasting of the Trivium whereby Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric are explored as Remembering, Thinking, and Communicating.
by Charles Norris Cochrane
Christianity and Classical Culture is considered one of the great works of scholarship published in the last century.
The theme of Christianity and Classical Culture is the fundamental change in thought and action that occurred from the reign of Augustus to the time of Augustine. The classical world sought to practice politics and understand the world in purely rational terms, but the difficulties of this program were already evident as Christianity began developing a completely new understanding of the human world. It is from this revolution in ideas that our modern world was forged.
Auden wrote of an earlier edition in The New Republic: “Since the appearance of the first edition in 1940, I have read this book many times, and my conviction of its importance to the understanding not only of the epoch with which it is concerned, but also of our own, has increased with each rereading.”
by Vigen Guroian
For Vigen Guroian, contemporary culture is distinguished by its relentless assault on the moral imagination. In the stories it tells us, in the way it has degraded courtship and sexualized our institutions of higher education, in the ever-more-radical doctrines of human rights it propounds, and in the way it threatens to remake human nature via biotechnology, contemporary culture conspires to deprive men and women of the kind of imagination that Edmund Burke claimed allowed us to raise our perception of our own human dignity, or to “cover the defects of our own naked shivering nature.” In Rallying the Really Human Things, Guroian combines a theologian’s keen sensitivity to the things of the spirit with his immersion in the works of Burke, Russell Kirk, G. K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, St. John Chrysostom, and other exemplars of the religious humanist tradition to diagnose our cultural crisis. But he also points the way towards a culture more solicitous of the “really human things,” the Chesterton phrase from which he takes his title. Guroian’s wide-ranging analysis of these times provides a fresh and inimitable perspective on the practices and mores of contemporary life.
We live in a politicized time. Culture wars and increasingly partisan conflicts have reduced public discourse to shouting matches between ideologues. But rather than merely bemoaning the vulgarity and sloganeering of this era, says acclaimed author and editor Gregory Wolfe, we should seek to enrich the language of civil discourse. And the best way to do that, Wolfe believes, is to draw nourishment from the deepest sources of culture: art and religious faith.
Wolfe has been called “one of the most incisive and persuasive voices of our generation,” and this penetrating and wide-ranging book makes a powerful case for the importance of beauty and imagination to cultural renewal. He begins by tracing his own journey from a young culture warrior bent on attacking the modern world to a career devoted to nurturing the creation of culture through contemporary literature and art that renew the Western tradition. Along the way, Wolfe finds in Renaissance Christian humanists like Erasmus and Thomas More—and their belief that imagination and the arts are needed to offset the danger of ideological abstractions— a “distant mirror” in which to see our own times.
Beauty Will Save the World offers a revealing introduction to the artists and thinkers who are the Christian humanists of the modern era, from well-known figures like Evelyn Waugh and Wendell Berry to lesser-known authors like Shusaku Endo, Andrew Lytle, and Geoffrey Hill. A section on visual artists Mary McCleary, Fred Folsom, and Makoto Fujimura (accompanied by reproductions of their works) demonstrates that there are artists who can reimagine the Western tradition in strikingly contemporary terms. Finally, Wolfe pays tribute to the conservative thinkers who served as his mentors: Russell Kirk, Gerhart Niemeyer, Marion Montgomery, and Malcolm Muggeridge— all of whom rejected rigid ideology and embraced culture and tradition.
At a time when our public discourse has come to be dominated by warring factions with little regard for truth, Wolfe’s affirmation of beauty as a redemptive force is both refreshing and encouraging.
by Anthony Esolen
This brave and bitingly funnny book is an indispensable guide to ovecoming today’s treacherous trends in parenting and education-and the overwhelming banality of contemporary culture.
“This book made me want to jump up (very high) and cheer, or run around (very far) and shout warnings…..All educators should take this uncommonly common sensical book to heart. A worthy successor to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man.” -Peter Kreeft
by John Mark Reynolds
John Mark Reynolds’s book When Athens Met Jerusalem provides students a well-informed introduction to the intellectual underpinnings (Greek, Roman and Christian) of Western civilization and highlights how certain current intellectual trends are now eroding those very foundations.
“This is a bold, original, salutary book, written with great passion, wonderful wit and deep love. Reynolds argues, convincingly I think, that Athens and Jerusalem, the classical and Christian cultures, cannot live apart and are both in danger of perishing unless they are brought together in creative harmony.” -Alfred Geier, Associate Proffesor of Classics, University of Rochester
by Marion Montgomery
Exposs of the politically correct university are a lively mainstay of recent nonfiction, but they usually focus on the surface conflict of the competing ideologies of the day. Montgomery reminds us that such squabbles have been with us ever since Socrates was sent to his death after the first negative student evaluation. Providing urgently needed historical and philosophical perspective, Montgomery reveals the roots of our educational chaos in the late Middle Ages and shows teacher and student a way out of the intellectual wilderness. Most observers have assumed that the current academic follies arose from the radicalism of the 1960’s. Others, following Allan Bloom, go back as far as Rousseau and Nietzsche. But Montgomery traces the problem to the fourteenth century, when certain philosophical ideas, seemingly remote from ordinary life, began to alter men’s understanding of reality. In time, the belief that nothing- not even man himself-is real outside the mind came to dominate Western culture.
No longer grounded in an understanding of man as a being of inherent worth, higher education ceased to be about the pursuit of wisdom and became merely a means for man’s comfortable self-preservation. Montgomery, who detected the consequences of this flight from reality long before open attacks on the liberal arts tradition became common, points out that other critiques of contemporary higher education refuse to address the underlying philosophical issues and so partake of the very errors they criticize. With the vision of a poet and the precision of a philosopher, Montgomery unmasks the fallacy that education is justified only by its production of a conspicuous material reward, and he points the way toward a recovery of true education. There can be no reform, he insists, without a new openness to the “truth of things,” which marks the character and work of the good teacher.
by Russell Kirk
What holds America together? In this classic work, Russell Kirk describes the beliefs and institutions that have nurtured the American soul and commonwealth. Beginning with the Hebrew prophets, Kirk examines in dramatic fashion the sources of American order. His analytical narrative might be called “a tale of five cities”: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia. For an understanding of the significance of America at the dawn of a new century, Russell Kirk’s masterpiece on the history of American civilization is unsurpassable.
So what are you reading?