How about we start a list of recommended works for high schoolers and college students -- books that every reasonably read graduate should have read.
A memory to help explain why this interests me: When I began college (at Concordia, Moorhead), the first professor I met in my first college class was Joan Buckley, who taught English. Joan became an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend -- and I am proud that we are still friends. Well, one evening fairly early in the semester, I was walking across a deserted parking lot, when this huge station wagon came barreling toward me. It came to a stop, and Professor Buckley jumped out. (She claims no memory of this event, but I assure you it is not apocryphal.) She told -- well, ordered in that polite firm way Joan has -- me to come with her, and off we went to her home, where she offered me coffee and Scandinavian cookies and promptly disappeared downstairs. She returned with a stack of books about 3 feet high (that may be a slight exaggeration?): Take these and work on them while you're here, she said; no one will make you read them, but you need to read these to be well-read. The works were mostly theological, not literary (I remember Kierkegaard, but the rest of the list is mushed up with other lists I keep in my head).
Well, that made a profound impression on me: first, that she would care enough about me to take such a personal interest; second, that there was (at least according to this prof) a kind of cultural canon that ought to be absorbed as a part of liberal education; third, that education (and later I'd understand: culture) included this aspect of personal transmission.
And so, in honor of the example of newly retired Joan Buckley, I issue this challenge to you: Name five books that every young person ought to read. If you want to add a sentence justifying your recommendation of each book, so much the better.
I'll begin with two books, with the disclaimer that I have not thought about this very long, so I'll be supplementing my list. This list is in no special order.
I have trouble recommending C.S. Lewis, who seems a natural, because I find him so boring. But his science fiction should probably be on the list.
Walter Wangerin, The Book of the Dun Cow.
This is a fable which re-casts the apocalypse in a bizarre and wonderfulN.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus
way. It contains the most lyric commendation of the office of the hours
that I have read. (You didn't really think there would be no liturgy book, did
you? It's appropriate to any age.
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy, Book One)
Wright is one of the brightest, most prolific, and challenging of scholars.
This book would prepare kids to take on the Jesus Seminar, the other gnostics,
and the wackos who would make of Jesus an idea in their own image. It's pretty accessible, but I'd probably put it on the "college" list.
I'd like to think that this will lead to the other two in the trilogy. It's
another fictional entre to the realm of theological pondering.
Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline
This may be on the college list, but it is a marvelous and quite accessible
introduction to the essentials of the faith, organized around the Apostles'
Creed. It's a great place for any kid to begin.
OK; it's your turn.