The Spectacle Blog

What We’re Reading, December Edition

By on 12.24.13 | 2:34PM

Each month, the Spectator's staff give a list of what they are reading. This month has already seen our writer recommendations for Christmas books. You can see those here, here and here. Tell us what we missed in the comments.

Matthew Walther, Assistant Editor

Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

This somewhat indifferently written but excellently researched life of Dr. Franklin's sister will be of interest to the many Americans who cannot get enough of the Founding Fathers.

Graham Greene, The Confidential Agent.

When I'm sick (as I was recently) I always like to drink a glass of Airborne and lie down with a nice thriller. This book is one of Greene's earliest "entertainments," as he called them, and among his best. I cannot imagine why, unlike so much of Greene's work, it has gone out of print.

John Gross (editor), The Oxford Book of English Essays.

This excellent anthology is one of my perennial bedside books. Favorite selections include "A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses," by Clive James (perhaps the greatest negative review published in the 20th century), and "Thomas Hobbes," by Hugh-Trevor Roper (a choice specimen of Lord Dacre's Whig malice).

Scott Russell, President

James Hornfischer, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailers

Hornfischer recounts the Battle off Samar and harrowing tail of of the 7th Fleet's "Taffy 3," made up of escort carriers and destroyer escorts, taking on and defeating the much larger Japanese Center force, in what military historians call one of the greatest mismatches in naval history. 

Patrick Gallivan, Office Manager

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

As is appropriate for the season, I'm revisiting this holiday classic.

Benjamin Brophy, Director of New Media and Visual Communications

D.A. Carson, How Long O' Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil

Carson takes a serious look at the age-old question of how a loving God can allow suffering; serious Christians should have an answer.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I have been told that, as a Christian, not having read Lewis is a serious deficiency. Thus, I have resolved to read as much of him as quickly as possible. This is my second work of his after Surprised by Joy. Lewis is infinitely quotable, though sometimes too simplistic. But I suppose generally applicable apologetic works have to be.

Anne Hobson, New Media Associate

Richard Hooker, MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors 

It features an occasionally light-hearted and sometimes serious tale about Army doctors during the Korean war. The book inspired the film and TV series starring Alan Alda. It was originally published in 1968.

W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

This story is a Bildungsroman, a coming-of-age novel, about the orphan Philip Carey. Believed to be autobiographical, Maugham insists that it is mostly imagined.

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