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.

“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 [...]

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. A new film based on St. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic The Little Prince recently made its premier. I haven’t seen it yet but it looks wonderful. [...]

As the saying goes, children can be “naughty or nice,” but naughty does not always mean bad and nice does not always mean good. One can also be “nice” but not good, and one can be good while sometimes naughty. A world of difference separates the merely nice from the truly good. No one explains [...]

There is an old adage that the summer vacation was a time for buildings to be empty, not the mind.   So, let salt air, sin, and the fate of civilization fire up the imagination over the coming weeks. Most readers expect that the tone and pace of a summer book should mark a shift from [...]

The return of summertime every year often recalls the years that will never return: the golden days of youth. The energy, the activity, the vitality, the shout of play in neighborhood and park stir up memories—the ghosts of juvenile instincts. Sun and sand. Tree and leaf. Bicycles and balls. The taste of watermelon. The smell [...]

There are only a very few authors whose works bear the power of changing the way the whole world is perceived by people. Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of those authors; and one of the ways that Dostoevsky has made his mark on human souls is his presentation of guilt. Not the feverish guilt of Raskolnikov [...]