Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Five books I recommend

Occasionally, people ask me what books do I recommend them to read and I ask them if they mean fiction, non-fiction, and then the genre of both types. So, I came up with a top-five list of books I recommend to people. Later on, I'm going to write a book review for each book and will post the review here and on Amazon.

If you're not familiar with the book series Redwall, well you're missing out on some excellent books. Redwall is not a series that you have to read book 1 then book 2, etc. Each book in the series is an isolated story (except for Mariel of Redwall and the Bellmaker - the Bellmaker is a continuation of M of Redwall). Did the author, Brian Jacques, have a chronological order for the books? Yeah he did, but there is no story value in reading the books in his order.

Redwall is a fantasy series involving no humans at all. The characters are of the rodent variety (mice, rats, weasels, squirrels, etc. with a few exceptions of wolverines and cats), anthropomorphic of course, and while one could say the world has a medieval setting, it's not like Narnia at all because there are no mythological creatures nor is there any religion in the books. The author does show there is good and evil, but also does deal with some gray issues in a few books.

Mossflower is my favorite in the series and a good starting book for a new Redwall reader.

"America is the greatest, freest, and most decent society in existence," writes Dinesh D'Souza. "American life as it is lived today [is] the best life that our world has to offer." The books is full of good arguments and D'Souza's humor. The book is not dry at all. Critics and champions of America alike should read this book. Learn why America is great.

This was the second book in Christian apologetics I read and I have to say: I wish it had been the first one. Listening to a debate between Hitchens and D'Souza on the existence of God and then another debate he had with Shermer caused me to rethink my positions on ultimate issues. I was a devout postmodernist (the label I use as a blanket label for relativism, nihilism, and apathy) thinking all theists were dumb, lived under rocks, and believed in a cosmic genie or a cosmic carnival of some sort; I didn't know about the arguments *for* God. The only "arguments" (I use that term loosely) I had heard before listening to debates like that were the following: well ya just gotta' have faith my boy; well you can't disprove god; didn't you see that spiritual experience he/she/they had?; you don't want to burn in hell do you?; and the list of bad arguments goes on.

Anyway, to put it simply, listening to "God" debates slowly changed my position from postmodernist to a Christian theist. This book helped me to learn deeper the arguments for Christianity. Also, the book is written by D'Souza so you won't be bored at all even if you find books like this boring, give it a try. I also don't expect every atheist/skeptic/non-Christian that reads this book will magically become a Christian, but I think every person who reads this will have *some* or even one question answered in a positive way.

On the other end of the debate, I recommend this book because you will understand the basic arguments for why a person is not a theist (I understood the arguments here well because a lot them were my reasons for not being a theist, particularly a Christian). If you're a Christian and for some reason you don't want to read this book, then I say you do at your own peril (by peril I mean, you may not understand your non-theist friends, or worse, their arguments). Of course, you could at least watch debates, but I highly recommend the book. Are there are other good atheist books? Sure. However, none are written as well as Hitchens' book.

My fifth recommendation was probably the most difficult because there are so many good books! Do I add another fiction or non-fiction? Well, obviously I decided to go with non-fiction and add another philosophy work to round out my philosophy recommendations. This book would be a fine book to read after reading D'souza's book I think. The book is in essay format and topical, so there is no need to read from page one to the ending (you will want to read the whole book, just maybe not in order). What the book does great is organize the book into three parts: part one is on the existence of God, part two is on the Jesus of history, and then part three is on the coherence of Christian doctrine.

There are some books I wanted to add to the this list, but of course I didn't. I have A LOT of favorite books, but the five I mentioned are the top five books I would recommend because I think Mossflower is the best in fiction and the non-fiction books I mentioned are the best in their genre.

The following books are some that almost made it to my top five list. It was a struggle, but I'm still satisfied with my top five list (note these are books that I've read and not books I've heard are good - the list could be longer, but I don't want to bore with you all of the books I've read through the years)

* Lord of the Rings trilogy 
* Martian Chronicles 
* Illustrated Man
* The Giver

* Patriot's History of the U.S.
* Liberal Fascism 
* The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach 

* Who Made God? Searching for a theory of everything
* Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (a debate book featuring Bill Craig and Quentin Smith)
* On Guard 
* Basic Writings of Nietzsche
* Either/Or: A Fragment of Life 
* The Philosophy Book
* Reason and Responsibility: readings in some basic problems in philosophy

* The Holiness of God
* Discovering the God who is

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