Friday, October 22, 2010

Top Ten Books I Never Finished

I usually ignore memes, but Dale Harris's recent list of "Top Ten Books I Never Finished" is too good to pass up:
"So here's my list of the top ten literary ghosts of my past, rattling their unfinished chains at me from the dusty corners of my bookshelf. What about you? Any books back there that you started with the best of intentions only to get bogged down and abandon somewhere between "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after"?"
So among the scores of unread books on my shelves, here's a list of ten that I have attempted and, for the most part, grudgingly replaced:

Don Quixote: Complete and Unabridged (Signet Classics) 10. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. I began Don Quixote in high school because it was one of the books in our temporary residence, and a classic. I read enough to learn what quixotic means.

The Pilgrim's Progress (Penguin Classics) 9. Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan. I read the picture book as a child, but have never made it through the unabridged edition.

Modern Times Revised Edition: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Perennial Classics) 8. Modern Times, Paul Johnson. A gift from my uncle. I always thought I should finish it, until I realized that it is now a piece of history in its own right.

G.W.F. Hegel: Theologian of the Spirit (Making of Modern Theology) 7. G. W. F. Hegel: Theologian of the Spirit, G.W.F. Hegel. This collection from the writings of Hegel is, hands down, the most boring book I have ever attempted. Although I returned it to my bookshelf years ago, the bookmark is still in place.

Truth and Method (Continuum Impacts) 6. Truth and Method, Hans-Georg Gadamer. Compared to Hegel, Gadamer is impossible to put down. Lots of good stuff here, and I hope to return to it someday. Book-mark in place, but back on the shelf for now.

Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set) 5. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin. My failed dream of reading through Calvin's Institutes on his 500th anniversary is documented here. 600th anniversary, anyone?

Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion 4. Paul and Palestinian Judaism, E.P. Sanders. I read the first 238 pages (on rabbinic Judaism) as a requirement in grad school, and loved it. Someday I'd like to return to the final 400.

The Problem of Pain 3. The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis. After two attempts, I decided the problem with this book was not mine: Lewis's apologetic is dated and not to my taste.

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God 2. The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard. I could make a separate list of failures as read-aloud-before-bed books. Whatever his other merits, Wallace Dillard (as he is affectionately known in our household), does not write for the ear. This one is still on my night stand, but has been usurped by #1.

The Cost of Discipleship 1. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As I recall, I read through most of The Cost of Discipleship in Kenya in 1995, but left the country without the book with a few chapters still to go. I am now trying again....


Isaac Gross said...

You might try reading the Problem of Pain alongside of A Grief Observed. Somewhat different takes considering PoP was written before Joy died and Grief was written. Supposed to be quite a contrast.

Anonymous said...

hey dave-- nice list. i see we share cervantes and bunyan in common. dh

d. miller said...

Isaac: I read A Grief Observed and really liked it. In general, I like C.S. Lewis a lot, even his apologetic stuff, so it was a bit odd that the Problem of Pain didn't do anything for me.

Dale: I may have been influenced by your list....

btw, I should have included John Milton's Paradise Lost--another bedtime story gone awry.