Yesterday I saw a tweet floating around asking for your “personal canon,” that is, which are the books that you have used to understand the world? Limiting myself only to written works (and not, say, music or film), here’s what I would say, roughly ordered according to when I encountered these books:
- The gospel according to Luke
- The book of Revelation
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
- Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton
- Proslogion by Anselm of Canterbury
- The Plague by Albert Camus
- The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel
- Silence by Shūsaku Endō
- Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
- On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent by Gustavo Gutiérrez
I don’t have much reading from my childhood represented; I’m not sure that much reading from before college has stuck with me in this world-shaping way. My list also skews decidedly modern (only three premodern texts), which is a little embarassing for me as a medieval theologian.
I might develop this into a fuller blog post, detailing why each of these books belong to my canon and how they inform my understanding of the world. I’m sure I’ll think of other books to add, too (and maybe, upon further refletion, remove some of these).