What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?

C.S. Lewis was asked “what books did most to shape [his] vocational attitude and [his] philosophy of life.” He responded with the following:

1) Phantastes by George MacDonald, 2) The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, 3) The Aeneid by Vergil, 4) The Temple by George Herbert, 5) The Prelude by William Wordsworth, 6) The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto, 7) The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, 8) Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell, 9) Descent into Hell by Charles Williams, and 10) Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour

I thought about this question with the aid of a close friend in Christ. I am merely nineteen years old, so I have read less than C.S. Lewis had by then, and not with the same quality of reading that he had. However, I did formulate a list of books ( in no apparent order) that have impacted the way I think–my vocational attitude and my philosophy of my life.

1) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky–for its spiritual and emotional impact on my life and my anxiety.

2) Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis–for its peculiar perspective on the Christian life (form the perspective of hellish creatures).

3) The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder–for its deep and multifaceted exploration of ‘love.’

4) The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathanial Hawthorne–for its revelation of every single human being’s possession of secret sin.

5) The Peasant Marey by Fyodor Dostoevsky–for its oblique way of showing a man learning how to look at the world with a sacramental vision.

6) Telling the Truth by Frederick Buechner–for its beautiful language that brings one back to the gospel. What Christians need most is to return to the story of Christ and our part in that story.

7) An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis–for its deep delving into the importance of literature, my area of interest, study, and, most importantly, worship.

8) Good News for Anxious Christians by Phillip Cary–for its warning against new evangelical dangers and its encouragement to return to the story of Christ and how we fit into that story.

9) Confessions by St. Augustine–for its universal application of ‘the confession’ to all Christians.

10) The Pearl by John Steinbeck–for its warning against the American dream and the evil that always accompanies the idolatry of money.


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