catapult magazine

catapult magazine


What Books Have Been Important to You?


Apr 06 2002
08:33 am

definitely. jack kerouac, at least through his early stuff—On the Road, Dharma Bums—, always challenges my energy and excitement for life. also, several political books have had a profound impact on my faith and my politics (i’m a politics kind of guy), such as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by dee brown and Against Empire by michael parenti. i’m sure there are more, but i can’t think of them off the top of my head.


Mar 20 2002
11:32 am

How about Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale, King Lear, Hamlet, Lewis, Tolkein, and maybe Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Maybe Holes by Louis Sacher?

To be honest, I have a hard time sorting out books I really like from books that affected me deeply.


Apr 06 2002
03:32 am

Just wondering…most of the answers here are “Christian book store books,” for lack of a better term. That’s fine and good, but I’m wondering about the capacity of books outside these boundaries to affect our lives as Christians. Ron Hansen? Flannery O’Connor? Walker Percy? I guess that some of these sorts of books “affect” me more, because they speak more completely to my whole self—flaws and all. Even with C.S. Lewis, I find ’Til We Have Faces a more satisfying book than some of his more directly apologetic fiction. Any thoughts?


Apr 06 2002
12:46 pm

I love Sherman Alexie’s work. He’s a native American lapsed catholic (which makes him almost a Calvinist in my book) but he simply writes honking good stuff. Likewise Mark Helprin (honking good, not lapsed Catholic). You won’t find any of those in a family bookstore (I don’t think. It has been a while since I’ve been to such a place — though they do have good Bible sales and Veggie Tales paraphenalia I confess)


Apr 06 2002
06:19 pm

Family Christian Bookstores…[shudder]. I was given a $100 gift certificate to one of these last winter. My husband and I went in hoping to find Christmas gifts for our family members. Two and a half frustraing hours later, we stumbled out, vowing never to re-enter. I am truly embarrassed. by the fluffy, trite, milky nothingness on all those shelves. (Not the Bibles, obviously, but we REALLY didn’t need another one.)

I have a hard time getting through “religiously themed” books…I would usually rather be reading fiction. :)

I second Jason’s vote fpr Generation X by Coupland…it’s beautiful and sort of captures everything good about the early college years. I also loved Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet, although I don’t think it’s supposed to be one of his best…? A few years ago I started making my way down the 100 best fiction of the 20th century list, and was pleasently surprised to discover I, Claudius (Graves) and Darkness at Noon (Koestler). And, of course, The Great Gatsby was monumental in my high school years.

I like stories that present humans and the world as fallible, persistent, noble, sinful, broken, beautiful, complex.


Apr 07 2002
09:33 pm

Anybody out there think that history is boring? Ummm. I’ve got news for you. It’s not. Proof:

Batavia’s Graveyard is the story of a mutiny that happens simulateously with a shipwreck in the 17th century. The captain leaves the 300 survivors on a group of desolate islands off the coast of Australia and everything goes to hell. Inhabitants of various islands go to war with each other. New forms of communal marriage are invented. God speaks to one dude directly and he becomes leader. Violence, rape, survival, death, torture, heresy. What more can one ask from history?


Apr 10 2002
11:47 am

I’ve got to go with ryan—Travelling Mercies. And lately, Dakota, by Kathleen Norris. Occasionally, if a book really speaks to me, I’ll return to it over and over again. Travelling Mercies and Dakota have both played that role in my life.


Apr 23 2002
03:41 pm

On the whole, “history is exciting” topic, anybody else ever read any Sharon Kaye Penman? Her series on the Welsh fight for independence is wonderful.


Mar 14 2003
01:53 pm

Doprothy L. Sayers books (both her theology & her detective novels) mean a lot to me.

There’s some similarities between Christian theology & some mystery writers, particularly the early to mid 20th Centiry (Sayers, Chesterton, & Christie in particular are influenced by Christian view of good & evil.)

Note that lots of mystery writers (esp. those not too influenced by modern thot, i.e. where they’re not sure if murder is really bad—-)
seem to understand the struggle between good & evil.

My favorite mystery of hers is not with her famed Lord Peter, but with a kind of antihero “detective” who, oh so unwillingly, ends up doing what is right…

“The Documents in the Case”. Paul Munting.

Lots of interesting side discussions in the book on the origin of things—-which flow nicely into the drama & the plot…Munting is apparently ashamed and bewildered that his anti-cosmology (basically 1920’s version of cynicism, amorality & nihilism in the post WWI and pre depression times) is not withstanding the onslaught of events around him. Someone has been murdered. Someone is guilty. And Munting is sucked into the vortex of this situation & must act! (If my signature appears below, it is a quote from the Munting character, as he has come to view himself!!! His “descendants” live on today!

Dorothy L. Sayers, incidentally, might say that the Christian writer might first aim to write the best quality book possible.

Seedy craftsmanship she considered unworthy of our message.

Her mystery books are considered some of the best of the 20th Century.


Apr 14 2003
04:38 am

I’d have to think about this one for a while, but two come to mind right now:

C S Lewis – Surprised by Joy
For someone seriously doubting Christianity, it is reassuring to read about an atheist coming to Christ. It is not a ridiculous faith.

C S Lewis – A Grief Observed
Again, reassuring to hear a believer practically doubting God.

I read some Lewis books my freshman year of college, and they meant a lot to me. To be honest, I’ve only read a handful of “Christian” books (Yancey, Crabb, Schaeffer), and mostly they haven’t been monumental in my life.

I did read something lately called “An Open Letter to House Church Leaders,” which is not long enough to be called a book. It was written by Gene Edwards, and is probably one of the most challenging things I’ve read recently. I am involved in a house church, and his letter really offended me at parts. Of course, I have to figure out now whether or not I am simply becoming defensive because I’ve become comfortable where I am and he speaks so directly against that. I have a feeling that’s it. :-/


Aug 02 2003
03:25 pm

The Catcher in the Rye has always been very important to me. I always appreciate honesty in books and I think that J.D. Salinger presented something that was as honest as possible. Plus I am sensitive teenager, so Holden is someone I can identify with. Anything by C.S. Lewis is beauty in text.