The Civilized Reader

Edited by William and Amy Fahey, The Civilized Reader joyfully reviews classic, good books — books that will enrich the life of your family and the minds of your children.

Almanzo Wilder cannot believe his eyes. “Whose sled is that, Father?” he asks, bewildered. “Is it—it isn’t for me?” Mother laughs and Father twinkles his eyes and asks, “Do you know any other nine-year-old that wants it?” It is Almanzo’s ninth birthday. In his family’s farmhouse in upstate New York, his parents have just sent [...]

As the novel shows, the corruption of sense in the form of prudent self-interest leads to marriages based solely on money, and the corruption of sensibility in the form of license leads to elopement, seduction, and children out of wedlock. Both attitudes destroy the ideal of marriage that forms the basis of civilization in Austen’s [...]

I find that there really are human beings who think fairy tales bad for children. I do not speak of the man in the green tie, for him I can never count truly human. But a lady has written me an earnest letter saying that fairy tales ought not to be taught to children even [...]

It is telling when the deficiencies of the adult world are told in the pages of children’s books. An instance of this has been immortalized in Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s cherished story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The tale of the Grinch is beloved, and for good reason, too. It is a wicked, wacky little [...]

“What are you looking for, when you go through the library shelves?” a young mother asked me one day, seeing me on my knees browsing titles in the children’s section. She wanted to know how I decide which books to pick, and I was surprised by how hard it was to find a good answer. [...]

“Frances! Come here! Come here at once!” Frances Chesterton started and flew from her half-prepared afternoon tea to the study where she had left her husband reading. With flapping apron and flitting heart, she rushed to see what he could possibly be bellowing about so urgently. His voice had not ceased to call for her [...]

“The Child is father of the Man,” wrote William Wordsworth, marveling at the enchantment of the child’s early experience and delight in play. The formative period of childhood cultivates in the young a love of life, a sense of adventure, and an imaginative world filled with wonder. As the child in Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden [...]

How does a lie become a truth? How does a person become brainwashed, and indoctrinated, and lose consciousness of reality? Why do thinkers believe in utopias and fantasies about classless societies that eliminate crime, poverty, and avarice? Why do ideologues imagine that there is no Mother Nature or God the Father who create and establish [...]

Many of O’Connor’s stories portray the ineptness of men to uphold traditional ideals of manhood. The men show no leadership, they do not protect or care for their family members, they lack all manner of chivalry, and they lose a sense of priority as they commit to careers and professions or social and political agendas [...]

Even as nature falls asleep under the fiery spell of autumn, there awakens in the lords of nature a keen spiritual sensitivity that can be a type of perversity. Fall inspires fallen men with a fascination in tales of terror and supernatural horror, tales that dwell on dark mysteries that transcend the regular course of [...]

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad out its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same; Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves—goes itself; myself [...]

If you are looking for some entertainment reading during the golden days of Indian Summer—or any other time—let me propose Georgette Heyer to you. Romance, Murder, Humor, Mystery, Dogs, and … Marriage! First, a bit of basic background: She was born in 1902 in Wimbledon, England. She did not attend university, but started writing very [...]

America stands in need of a new revolution to free itself from the tyranny of bureaucracy and the ensuing slavery of boredom. Such freedom is difficult to depict even in the land of the free, because the United States is losing its identity as the home of the brave. Cowardice, termed “tolerance,” is the marching [...]

She has been called “The Divine Jane,” and who can quibble with that sobriquet? My husband teaches at a college where her Emma is read senior year by every student. I object, but only because I think the work to introduce her in such a universal way ought to be Pride and Prejudice, accessible to [...]

Even before the age of consumerism, overspending, and credit card debt, an American writer of the nineteenth century identified an economic problem that has proliferated and reached a point of crisis in the twenty-first century. Thoreau observes that the typical New England farmers of his day perform burdensome toil more onerous than the labors of [...]

In our family, we frequently pose the question, “What would Laura say about…?” Presently, we are wondering what Laura Ingalls Wilder’s reaction would be to various aspects of the Modern World. Recently, I have been contemplating what Laura would think if she heard phrases like this: Come on, sweetie. Just read a few more books [...]

Reading in the dog days should never be dogged reading. Just as summer is for recreation, so also is it for recreational reading. Light reading material, however, should not be lousy reading material. The aim of reading is for enrichment even when it is for enjoyment. It is always preferable to engage in reading that [...]

James Boswell’s biography The Life of Johnson portrays a distinguished man of letters after whom a whole literary period was named: The Age of Johnson. To read of Johnson’s life (1709-1784) is to learn of an eminent man of learning whose love of literature, passion for truth, and genius for writing achieved extraordinary works of [...]

Summertime is a favorite time for some favorite reading—but in these times, and in these summers, the issue is not simply, “What is to be read?” but “How is it to be read?” Readers are not only what they read, but also how they read; and civilized readers should not read like boors. Thus, they [...]

Were one to conduct a survey of modern-day Americans, taken at random, it is likely that not one in a hundred would have heard of the poet, Richard Crashaw. Were one to cross the Atlantic and conduct a similar experiment with modern-day Englishmen, it is likely that the result would be the same. This neglect [...]

MENU