Great Books, Playwrights, & Poets (Ken Boa’s List)

Reading encourages you to slow down, think deeply, and make inferences or connections. It also aids your memories, especially if you underline or mark text while you read. This list of titles, compiled by Dr. Boa, includes many classics sure to challenge your thinking and outlook—books that will “bite and sting” (as James Houston put it). Reading a physical copy is recommended, if possible, as doing so will engage all your senses.

Recommended Books

• Good synthesis of artistic merit and spiritual themes
•• Great synthesis of artistic merit and spiritual themes
Bold indicates books on which Dr. Boa has taught

Abandonment to Divine Providence (de Caussade)
The Aeneid (Virgil)
Alice in Wonderland
Analects of Confucius
•• Anna Karenina
The Art of War (Sun Tzu)
Bleak House
Book of Martyrs (John Foxe)
Brave New World
•• The Brothers Karamazov
Candide (Voltaire)
The Canterbury Tales
The Catcher in the Rye
Christian Perfection (Fénelon)
• The Chronicles of Narnia
The City of God (Augustine)
The Cloud of Unknowing
•• Confessions (Augustine)
The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
The Count of Monte Cristo
•• Crime and Punishment
The Dark Night of the Soul
• David Copperfield
Decameron (Boccaccio)
Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville)
• Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (Donne)
Dialogues of Plato (e.g., Symposium, Crito, Gorgias, Republic)
•• The Divine Comedy (2 parts)
Don Quixote
Dr. Faustus (Marlowe)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
East of Eden
Essay on Man and Other Poems (Alexander Pope)
Fathers and Sons (Turgenev)
The Faërie Queene
Faust (Goethe)
Fear and Trembling (Kierkegaard)
The Federalist Papers
• The Four Loves (C. S. Lewis)
The Great Divorce (C. S. Lewis)
Great Expectations
The Great Gatsby
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Gulliver’s Travels
• Heart of Darkness (Conrad)
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (Samuel Johnson)
Huckleberry Finn
The Iliad
•• The Imitation of Christ
Institutes of the Christian Religion
• Interior Castle (Teresa of Ávila)
Introduction to the Devout Life (Francis de Sales)
Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott)
• Jane Eyre
Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)
The Jungle Books (Kipling)
The Knowledge of the Holy (A. W. Tozer)
Kristen Lavernsdatter (Sigrid Undset)
The Last of the Mohicans
Le Morte D’Arthur
•• Les Misérables
Little Women
The Little Flowers of St. Francis
Lord Jim
•• The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Love of God (Bernard of Clairvaux)
Madame Bovary
The Mahabharata
Mere Christianity
My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)
New Seeds of Contemplation (Thomas Merton)
The Nibelungenlied
Nichomachean Ethics (Aristotle)
The Odyssey
Orthodoxy (G. K. Chesterton)
•• Paradise Lost
•• Pensées
Phantastes (George MacDonald)
•• The Pilgrim’s Progress
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
• The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene)
• The Practice of the Presence of God
A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
•• Pride and Prejudice
The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis)
Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing (Kierkegaard)
The Pursuit of God (A. W. Tozer)
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Jeremiah Burroughs)
The Red and the Black
The Religious Affections (Jonathan Edwards)
Revelations of Divine Love (Julian of Norwich)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Robinson Crusoe
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
• The Scarlet Letter
The Screwtape Letters
• The Second Coming (Walker Percy)
• Sense and Sensibility
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (William Law)
• Short stories of Flannery O’Connor
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Soul’s Journey Into God (Bonaventure)
• The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
The Space Trilogy, aka the Ransom Trilogy (C. S. Lewis)—Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
Summa Theologica (Aquinas)
• Table-Talk (Luther)
A Tale of Two Cities
Treasure Island
Tristram Shandy (Laurence Sterne)
The Two Treatises of Government (Locke)
Vanity Fair (Thackeray)
The Vanity of Human Wishes (Samuel Johnson)
•• War and Peace
The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith)
Wuthering Heights

Recommended Playwrights

Anton Chekhov
Henrik Ibsen
Sophocles (Antigone)
•• Shakespeare
George Bernard Shaw

Recommended Poets

• Emily Dickinson
• John Donne
T. S. Eliot
•• George Herbert
Gerard Manley Hopkins
John Keats
Sir Philip Sidney
Edmund Spenser
William Wordsworth
William Butler Yeats