April 21, 2004


Three Books (Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., April 2004, Crisis)

Let us suppose that someone wanted to read, say, three books that would explain in clear, profound, and incisive terms the whole structure of human life, its destiny, and how it stands before God and the world. What books would I recommend? Or if some parent asked me what three books should he give his son or daughter on the way to college, something that, if read and pondered, would keep what is clearly before his or her eyes, in all its philosophic and revelational dimensions. What books would these be? If some unsuspecting student inquires, “What should I read this summer?,” what three books would I suggest? [...]

These three books are the following: (1) Josef Pieper: An Anthology; (2) Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien; and (3) Ralph McInerny, The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life. None of these books is very long. Each is relatively easy to read. All three are as profound as any book ever written. They all deal with what is.

These books cover every issue of any importance about how to live and what is true. Each of the authors knows classic and modern thought. None of these books intends to be apologetic; yet taken together, they constitute the finest apologetic imaginable. They are all lyrical. They deal with evil. They take us to the order of things in a way that nothing else will in quite the same way. “Read them!”

Though sadly unfamiliar with Pieper, we'd certainly recommend that you read Maritain and Tolkien's own works too.

-TRIBUTE: A Philosopher of Virtue (Gilbert Meilaender, April 1998, First Things)
-ESSAY: Josef Pieper's Scholasticism (James Richard Skemp, March 13th 2003)
-LINKS: Resources for further study of the thought of Josef Pieper

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2004 9:06 AM

I have 3, too. Only I didn't give them to my kids to read. I read them to them.

Abell's "Science and the Paranormal."

Brunvand's "The Choking Doberman."

Pinkwater's "The Last Guru."

Actually, I read more than those, including the Bible, to them, but those were the key texts, designed not to "tell them what is" but to teach them how to identify what isn't.

That's a far more valuable lesson.

Worked great, too.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 21, 2004 2:25 PM