I dont know if this exercise originated in Canada, but one of our Canadian friends, Tom Cerber, passed along a request to answer five questions about my reading habits.
How many books do I own?
I dunno. My wife says too many. I say not enough. If I had to guess, somewhat north of a thousand.
Whats the last book I bought?
I just opened a lovely package today, containing a bunch of religion and higher ed books recommended in this essay. The two near the top of my reading pile are Nick Wolterstorffs Educating for Life and his Educating for Shalom. Hes one of the smartest Calvinists I know and while I dont always agree with him, I learn from arguing with him. And David Mills has graciously permitted me to work our some of my disagreements in a future issue of Touchstone (where my review of Naomi Schaefer Rileys God on the Quad will appear next month).
Whats the last book I read?
The answer to that question comes in several categories. I just now read a couple of chapters of Brian Jacquess Mossflower to my son. Then theres my summer school-related reading: if its Tuesday, it must be St. Thomas Aquinas Treatise on Law and Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War. Im also currently sitting in on a faculty seminar on human rights rhetoric. Today we discussed Mary Ann Glendons A World Made New; tomorrow, its on to Carol Andersons Eyes Off the Prize. If I had any spare time at the moment, Id be working my way through Daniel Dombrowskis Rawls and Religion, which attempts to show how JR isnt hostile to revealed religion. On the agenda for later in the summer are some books on religion and liberalism, like Marci Hamiltons God vs. the Gavel, Greg Forsters John Lockes Politics of Moral Consensus, and George di Giovannis Freedom and Religion in Kant and His Immediate Successors.
What are the five books that mean the most to me?
Plato, The Republic
Leo Strauss, The City and Man
St. Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
I am very indebted to my Auseinandersetzung with Kant for my current outlook on the world, but Ive basically been led away from him as a result. While I wouldnt recommend that anyone retrace my path, I do think that the three Critiques-- especially the "transcendental dialectic" in C1, the discussion of the highest good in C2, and the critique of teleological reason in C3--are worth pondering, as are Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, The Conflict of the Faculties and all the little essays on history and politics.
The five bloggers I tagged are Peter Schramm, David Mills, Ken Masugi, Win Myers, and Mike DeBow. Others I might have tagged are Gideon Strauss, any of the other Ashbrook folks, especially the redoubtable but all too reticent Dave Foster, and any of the contributors to Get Religion.