One Book for College: Joining the Recommendations

Over at Mere Orthodoxy, Matt Anderson took it upon himself and his bloggers to each recommend a book to read during college. While I do not write for Mere-O, I am an avid reader and Matt is a friend of mine, so I thought I would throw my own hat into the ring. Hopefully he won’t mind this particular intrusion, but that may depend on which book I end up recommending.

I won’t stoop so low as to recommend reading Matt’s book in order to get into good graces with him, even though I do think it is worth reading.

Aside from recommending that you read first and foremost the books on your reading list, which has already been suggested, I would recommend reading either Augustine’s Confessions or Dante’s Divine Comedy, provided neither are already on your reading list.

Both of these books have held deep places in my own life and in my way of thinking. Augustine’s book is a touching tale full of theological reflection, autobiographical encouragement, and the only extra-biblical book to ever bring me to tears, though I suspect it was due to the particular circumstances in which I read it. While I may be a bit biased in recommending it, I do think it is a worthwhile read.

As for Dante’s Divine Comedy, the text is one that has shaped the way I think and relate to every-day problems; I cannot tell you how many times I’ve talked about descending through hell to reach paradise, climbing down the leg of Satan, being guided by Virgil or considering the reasons that Beatrice gets to go straight to heaven, while poor Dante cannot. There is a lot of depth in the text, and it is one that can be revisited with varying degrees of external study. Surely I missed many of the historical references (Dante mentions many specific people in hell) that would likely give much more depth and meaning to what is happening, but even a cursory read can show and express deep meaning.

Read your assigned texts, and step into the recommended texts if you’ve got the time. After that, I recommend either of these two books.

Published by

J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).