Shelf Life: A Must-Read, Lifetime-Learning List for Men Part 1 By George Grant


Readers are inveterate and unapologetic list makers.  Indeed, according to Umberto Eco, “Lists are the most necessary literary accessories of all.” 

  • There are lists of books that must be read. 
  • There are lists of books that must be reread. 
  • There are lists of books that must be read by others.
  • There are lists of books that must be bought. 
  • There are best-seller lists. 
  • There are best of the best lists. 
  • There are the indispensable book lists—those titles readers might profess to be their preferred companions were they stranded on a desert isle. 

It seems that list-making simply goes with the territory—it is the natural accompaniment to the shelf life.

T.S. Eliot quipped, “I love reading another reader’s list of favorites.  Even when I find I do not share their tastes or predilections, I am provoked to compare, contrast, and contradict.  It is a most healthy exercise, and one altogether fruitful.”

Here at King’s Meadow, we share that sentiment wholeheartedly.  So, we trust you’ll enjoy mulling over, arguing with, and amending the following lists:


My Favorite Non-Fiction Books from the 20th Century

Compiling a list of my favorite non-fiction works of the twentieth century is harder than it might appear at first glance—at least partly because most of the really good books written in this century are barely up to the standards of mediocre books written in earlier centuries.  But, of course, in accord with God’s good providence, there have been a number of happy literary aberrations.  Almost any of the books by G.K. Chesterton, Abraham, Kuyper, Hilaire Belloc, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Niall Ferguson, Arthur Quiller-Couch, or Paul Johnson might have made the list—but I had to start and stop somewhere. These are listed in no particular order (other than the ramshackle, stream-of-consciousness order in my own mind).

1. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

2. The Stone Lectures, Abraham Kuyper

3. Knowing God, J.I. Packer

4. Mont St. Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams

5. The Servile State, Hilaire Belloc

6. Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington

7. The Birth of the Modern, Paul Johnson

8. The Path to Rome, Hilaire Belloc

9. The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill

10. A World Torn Apart, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

11. Home, Witold Rybczynski

12. A Texan Looks at Lyndon, J. Evetts Haley

13. How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis

14. My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

15. I’ll Take My Stand, Donald Davidson, et al.

16. George Whitefield. Arnold Dallimore

17. 84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff

18. The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, Henry Van Til

19. A Wake for the Living, Andrew Lytle

20. A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer

21. Where Nights Are Longest, Colin Thubron

22. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman

23. Civil Rights, Thomas Sowell

24. Essays and Criticisms, Dorothy Sayers

25. Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver

26. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis,

27. The Intellectual Life, A.G. Sertillanges

28. The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer

29. The Fundamentals, J. Gresham Machen et al.

30. The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn

31. Witness, Whittaker Chambers

32. Christianity and Liberalism, J. Gresham Machen

33. The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til

34. Battle for the Bible, Harold Lindsell

35. Spiritual Depression, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

36. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

37. The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers

38. Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, Hans Rookmaaker

39. Idols for Destruction, Herbert Schlossberg

40. Fire in the Minds of Men, James Billington

(to be continued….)

About Katherine Wacker

Katherine Wacker is currently a reviewer for Bethany House Publishers, and Howard Books. She is a Craftsman graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild. She holds a B.A in History from San Diego State-Imperial Valley Campus. In her spare time she likes to read books, watch sports, and do jigsaw puzzles. She lives at home with her parents and dog, Roscoe.
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