Summer reading list

July 12, 2011

What are you hoping to
read this summer? We posed this question to the
Century staff, a group of people with diverse tastes
and interests. Along with commenting on our choices, feel free to post your own
in the comments. --Ed.

Right now I'm
reading In the Garden of Beasts, by
master storyteller Erik Larson. It is the captivating story of William E. Dodd,
U.S. ambassador to Germany during Hitler's rise to power. Dodd's young adult
daughter Martha, a socialite who had affairs with the head of the Gestapo and a
Russian spy, steals the show. Next I plan to read Stephen Ozment's sweeping
survey A Mighty Fortress: A New History
of the German People
.

I am slowly
working my way through Augustine's Confessions,
using Maria Boulding's translation. This may not be the best translation from a
scholar's point of view, but I find it elegant and a pleasure to read. I want
to follow this up with Garry Wills's Augustine's
Confessions
, part of Princeton University Press's new series on the "Lives
of Great Religious Books."

I enjoy reading
books about books, including Pat Conroy's My
Reading Life
, which is memoir-like, and Alan Jacobs's The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, which is more
about the reading process. Next up is Alice Ozma's The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. When Ozma
was a child, her father pledged to read to her 100 nights in a row before bed.
After 100 nights they couldn't stop, so they continued until she departed for
college. (I'm hoping to get some reading suggestions for my grandchildren.)

Two books
recently excerpted in the Christian
Century
have my attention: Eugene Peterson's The Pastor: A Memoir and
Miroslav Volf's Allah: A Christian
Response.
  Peterson's is a story about how a
budding biblical scholar turned into a pastor, developed a writing ministry and
ended up as a pastor to pastors. Volf examines Christian-Muslim relationships
theologically, arguing that there's more convergence between these two
religions than commonly thought.

Soon a review
will appear in the Century of Tom
Montgomery Fate's latest work, Cabin
Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild
. A fine essayist, Fate
divides his time between suburban Chicago and a cabin in Michigan.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand
Years
by Diarmaid
MacCulloch beckons from the nightstand by my bed. But I'll never read this
1,200-page history of Christianity unless I buy a Kindle version to read during
my commute.