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.

Helping children navigate the road to virtue is a challenging task. Thousands of books, articles, videos, and programs present strategies for how to discipline children effectively. Many parents have found tremendous help this way, and the abundance of information available for struggling families can be a gift from God in difficult and complicated situations. Two [...]

Are you a prisoner of cynicism? In a godless world where men tend to hedge their bets on man before anything else, it is not surprising that many experience existential letdowns. Man is naturally imperfect, and thus it is natural that purely anthropological philosophies are suspicious—even contemptuous—of any kind of idealism. This attitude degenerates into [...]

In the style of the “wit” of metaphysical poetry—the ability to see striking, original analogies and to use fresh metaphors—Herbert writes of man’s relationship to God by comparing the communication of God to man and man to God to the movements of a pulley. In the language of seventeenth century poetry, Herbert uses a “conceit,” [...]

Times there are when readers will find books spiritual that were written with no intention of being spiritual books. The subconscious is often the best author, especially when it comes to the way divinity wends through the world it has woven. It is always good when books provide a revelation to their readers and writers [...]

What is most tragic in tragedies is that everything falls apart. Tragedies are always concerned with fate of a community, and a community cannot fall until its building blocks, individuals, have already begun to tumble themselves. Tragedies often seem inevitable from the their very beginning, and the reason for this is that we arrive at [...]

London, 1936. Gilbert Keith Chesterton was dead, leaving the President’s Chair of the Detection Club vacant. Under deep mourning, the bereaved club members assembled to nominate a new president. Among those present were Fr. Ronald Knox, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and the late Mr. Chesterton’s friend of friends, Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The vote was [...]

Dr. Johnson remarked that a noble purpose of great literature “is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.” Willa Cather’s My Antonia, a novel about immigrants travelling to the Midwest to farm the land as pioneers, provides great wisdom on the art of enduring life better. Portraying the universality [...]

The surrender to sin in America is a species of Satanism. Whether through seduction or submission, depravity is the mantra of the modern world and the modern world makes excuse readily available. I am weak. Human beings are only human. As long as no one gets hurt… If it feels good… The vindications go on [...]

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 [...]

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