Top 5 Books of 2018 by Ian Mosley, Latin Teacher at School of the Ozarks
As the year comes to a close, we as a staff have decided to detail our favorite reads of 2018.
- The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Being, by Pierre-Marie Emonet
What a sublime little book! In attempting to give a non-technical introduction to some of the basic principles of Thomist/Aristotelian metaphysics, this book can be compared to works like Adler’s Aristotle for Everybody, though Emonet is much more focused on explaining metaphysics as a propadeutic for theology. Yet where Adler aims to give a sober, systematic treatise, Emonet writes a sort of love letter to reality, suffused with an unpretentious mysticism and absorbed in wonder, eager to find parallels in poetry and theology for the insights of metaphysics. An excellent introduction to philosophy as the love of wisdom and prelude to theology, it is also a great review and meditation even for those familiar with far more technical approaches to this subject matter.
- Unto This Last, by John Ruskin
A short but tremendously important meditation on a Christian approach to economics. In his preaching, Jesus gave us the fearful picture of the dead rising up to judge the living: in this book, we can hear the voice of all Christian and classical wisdom rising up to pronounce judgment on Ruskin’s society and ours. Sometimes Ruskin’s holy ventriloquism conjures up the spirit of Socrates or Seneca, and sometimes of Isaiah or St. Ambrose: but the call to us is the same, a call back to humanity and sanity and away from the world of “sophisters, economists, and calculators” whose birth Burke beheld and shuddered.
- Ad Alpēs, by H. C. Nutting
Nihil profecto utilius discipulis cuiusvis linguae est quam multum legere. Quae cum ita essent, opus est aditus multo facilior permultis scriptoribus antiquis, qui summa arte opera sua confecerunt. Quem aditum H. C. Nutting praebuit, hunc libellum lepidum fabularum antiquarum plenum
Certainly, nothing is more useful for students of any language than a lot of reading. Since this is the case, there is a need for a much easier approach than many of the ancient authors, who made their works with the most sublime skill. H. C. Nutting has provided this approach in this little book full of ancient tales.
- The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy
My favorite Walker Percy so far. I started out with The Moviegoer, like you’re supposed to—I found it underwhelming. OK, but nothing special. Then I read Lancelot, which was a big ol’ punch in the gut of a novel, but I respected it—like after a pungent olive, your palate felt clearer for the experience. The Thanatos Syndrome sort of reads like Percy’s take on That Hideous Strength, except the human depravity that is hinted at in Lewis is shown here in big, bold, Fellini-esque technicolor. Not as bad as Lancelot, but occasionally nauseating and tough to get through in parts. Though a Roman Catholic, Percy is almost Calvinistic in his unflinching tendency to peer into the dark corners of the human soul. But again, he is not trying to show human depravity as anything except human depravity. Like some of the darker stories in the Bible, you feel it is there for a reason and is shown in its true proportions. Anyway, much like That Hideous Strength, Percy holds up a mirror to the idols of our age in a way that will give this book a lasting importance.
5. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner
A very insightful guide through the ins and outs of writing fiction. Gardner’s view that fiction is an inescapably moral enterprise and akin to a sort of spiritual exercise is compelling and allows his book to steer wide of a shallow, manipulative formalism. His ability to engage with, understand, and interpret both classic literature and modern works imparts a sense of depth and roundness that is too frequently lacking in the parochial echo chamber of modern MFA programs.