What are the books you come back to?

I spent half of Saturday organizing my library. I’ve always had an unwieldy number of books, more volumes than space, and it requires a fair amount of shuffling and reordering to get them shelved in a way useful to me and tolerable to my wife. It’s pure joy. Sorting through my library is therapeutic. There are few things more enjoyable and restorative than a casual browse of books you love. A sojourn…

Five reasons you should write in your books

When I die, my kids or some lucky sap at an estate sale will end up with my library. As they rifle through the pages, they’ll probably take note of the number of coffee stains and all my underlines and marginalia. Some will be scandalized. I’m an inveterate scribbler. That’s especially true when it comes to nonfiction, but even novels suffer a few slashes and asterisks. If writing in books ever becomes…

One tip C.S. Lewis suggests for understanding our times

No idea exists in a vacuum. I was reminded of this while flipping through George Orwell’s collected essays and saw a jab he took at C.S. Lewis. His beef was with some of Lewis’ radio talks—what eventually formed the final section of Mere Christianity. Orwell characterized Lewis as enjoying some “vogue at this moment,” which permitted him to offer “chummy little wireless talks.” But he saw Lewis as dangerous. Orwell deemed the…

What Tolkien and Lewis teach us about surviving dark times

What happens when a whole way of life disintegrates before your eyes? Augustine lived through such a time. The men coming home from World War One did as well. It might feel as if we’re living through such a time right now. One way to navigate treacherous times is to learn from those who have traversed similar moments before. And a penetrating new book by historian and King’s College professor Joseph Loconte…