Books and Poetry

This list is an idiosyncratic and limited selection of interesting works that are worth reading. Some of them are evidently valuable in engaging with and understanding the Christian faith, while others are simply good literature (if ‘simply’ is the word!). All beauty and truth point ultimately to the Logos, the One who is the Source of truth and beauty – sometimes more directly, sometimes more indirectly, but sometimes indirect light (and shadow too) brings out aspects of the beauty of the Word that we might otherwise miss. (And, as Dante shows us in Purgatorio, sometimes the direct blaze of heavenly light is too bright for our un-adjusted eyes!)

I will be adding to this list as time goes on.


George Herbert (17th century): listen to a podcast about his poetry here.
John Donne – especially the Holy Sonnets: listen to a podcast here, and read the first part of a series about the Holy Sonnets here.

John Milton: Paradise Lost, Comus

William Blake
Christopher Smart
Gerard Manley Hopkins (19th century): listen to a podcast here, and read a piece about his poetry here.
Christina Rossetti: here is a post about one of her poems.
Another Rossetti post here.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson – especially In Memoriam

John Keats
TS Eliot (20th century)
Seamus Heaney
Geoffrey Hill – Tenebrae

Robert Frost

Emily Dickinson

Classical Literature

The Odyssey

The Iliad

Greek mythology

Sophocles: Oedipus Rex

The Aeneid

Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Beowulf: read a piece about it here.
The Dream of the Rood
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Dante’s Divine Comedy – I have a whole podcast series here.

Spenser – The Faerie Queene

17th-18th C

William Shakespeare: the plays. My favorites are Hamlet, Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale

Christopher Marlowe – Dr Faustus


Fiction – Fantasy etc

JRR Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit
CS Lewis – Chronicles of Narnia, The Ransom Trilogy, Till We Have Faces
Charles Williams – War in Heaven, Descent into Hell, etc,
George MacDonald – Phantastes
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Tim Powers – The Stress of Her Regard, The Anubis Gates, Three Days to Never
GK Chesterton – The Man Who Was Thursday, The Ball and the Cross
Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass
Kenneth Grahame – The Wind in the Willows

Classic Novels

Jane Austen – it’s all good – Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility
Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited
Fyodor Dostyoevsky – Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov
Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina
(I don’t actually like Dostyoevsky or Tolstoy that much myself, but I appreciate their work)
Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Mystery Novels

GK Chesterton – Father Brown stories
Dorothy Sayers – Lord Peter series, especially The Nine Tailors and the Wimsey/Vane books
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes stories
PD James – the Adam Dalgliesh novels
Margery Allingham