This Week’s Reading (June #3)

Here’s what’s on my reading shelf for the third week of June:


  1. The Keys to Middle Earth—This is a great sourcebook of the many medieval texts that influenced Tolkien’s imagination. The authors are experts in both medieval literature and in Tolkien studies, and this book has been remarkably illuminating for me—even though the two things I know most about are medieval lit and Tolkien. After an introductory essay on Tolkien and the different literary/language traditions that shaped his writing, the authors provide selections of medieval texts along with an essay that discusses the specific ways they shaped The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  (Amazon:  Paper; Kindle–none)


  1. Killing Floor—I haven’t finished Kipling’s Kim yet (see last week’s list), but this novel came my way for Father’s Day, and I’m already half done. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, but I like Jack Reacher’s character. In the recent movie, Reacher appears out of nowhere, with no past, like Clint Eastwood’s character in Pale Rider. In the book, Reacher is more like a knight-errant wandering around the country without much purpose—except for busting the heads of those who oppress the helpless.  (Amazon:  Paper; Kindle)


  1. Imagining the Kingdom—I know: this was on my list last week. But I need to say more about this one and its prequel, Desiring the Kingdom. Both of these books are about education, but not primarily about schools. Jamie Smith’s central premise is that education is not primarily about the communication of knowledge, but about the shaping of loves. This implies that humans are not fundamentally knowing beings but loving beings: we are the sum of our loves. And our loves are being shaped all the time, often without our realizing it. So how do we shape our loves in the right way? Well, that’s what Imagining the Kingdom is all about.  (Amazon:  Paper; Kindle)