My Favorite Books of 2014

Surveying the list of books I read this year, these jumped out at me as the most significant. These are books I intend to revisit, the kind of books that need to be known not merely read.

In no particular order:

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths

The best one stop resource for everything you want to know about Greek mythology. Aha moments aplenty areading this magnificent summary replete with artistic renderings. Knowing this material will fertilize the imagination and help you understand the myriads upon myriads of references to the classical heritage in all learned writing.

Clement Wood, Poets’ Handbook

I had no idea there was so much to know about poetry! How vast and deep was (and is) my ignorance. Clement Wood may have been a socialist, but he loved his poetry and knew it thoroughly. This is a comprehensive look at how poems are made, illustrated with many poems worth committing to memory. This book will help you understand the sublimity of the genre and give you language to describe it.

Manchester and Reid, The Last Lion

These monumental volumes must be listed separately:
Volume one: Visions of Glory
Volume two: Churchill Alone
Volume three: Defender of the Realm

This three volume set is easily the best biography I have ever read (actually I listened to it on Audible–highly recommended! Would that Frederick Davidson could have read all three volumes). Who is more colorful than Churchill? When did a figure more clearly understand himself to be in a vast struggle between good and evil with civilization at stake? Who could have made more memorable statements in such situations? Thoroughly heroic. You will not be disappointed by these books.

Scott Crider, The Office of Assertion

The logic of this book was so tight I felt dizzy at times. The sentences held exactly what they needed and nothing more. The prose as limpid as its content lucid. This is a beautiful book on rhetoric from which all preachers and teachers will learn.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals

Lincoln. What else needs to be said? I don’t know whether he was converted to Christianity near the end of his days, but the most noble things about the man were the points at which he was most like Jesus. Noble. Forgiving. Serious. Moral. Loving his fellow man. Seeking the right. A great depiction of a great man.

Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind

An absolutely fascinating history of ideas. The sentences Tarnas reels off are astonishing–full of precision and insight. Such summaries of Plato and Aristotle! Really puts the turning of the gears of the ages of philosophy into perspective. Then after a masterful survey, he goes into full wingnut mode in the final pages: the archetypal evolution of the collective psyche? The perinatal dialectic of the re-experienced birth canal produced by an LSD trip as studied by Stanislav Grof!? The sad thing is that he seems to be serious. He really believes that stuff. May God give him the new birth he needs, that the passion of his western mind might truly reunite with his ground of being in knowing God through Christ by the power of the Spirit.

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