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.

Et voilà. The cold corpse lay in Compartment #2 of the Orient Express, stabbed twelve times, no murder weapon, no obvious motive, victim’s pistol ready under the pillow, door locked and chained from within, mysterious clues (or blinds) littered about, a broken watch, a ghostly intruder, a scarlet kimono, a perfect murder and a perfect [...]

Almost twenty-five hundred years ago, a Greek decided that his era was so unique and exciting that he was going to learn as much as he could about it by any means that he could. He would travel to where the great events of the age had occurred, learn about the cultures of all the [...]

The ghosts that haunt the lonely corners of the globe have ever managed to play an uncanny and incalculable role in the rolling course of the world, and might even be considered the goblin guides of human history. Whether by visions or voices from the grave, the disembodied beings beloved by lore are a presence [...]

Robert Frost’s classic poem captures the essence of the home as a place of belonging and hospitality where a person experiences love, welcome, care, worth, and dignity and where he comes to know the value of both justice and mercy which the home instills in its unique combination of love’s gentleness and firmness and blend [...]

Every good child takes some pleasure in being bad. It is the perversity of human inheritance that forbidden fruit is fascinating. Childhood courts devious delights while confronting the boundaries of manners and morals. The rewards of virtue have their appeal, but the thrill of crime is a strong contender for the awakening will. While innocence [...]

In the famous speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It that begins “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,” the melancholic Jaques laments the passage of time in the human pilgrimage as a series of sad events that perpetuate the same mood of life’s dreariness that persists from [...]

For those who are concerned with important books, The Magician’s Nephew should be a concern. It is important because in reading this book, the young reader should experience that particular delight when a book surprises you with the completely unexpected. And the surprise at the end of The Magician’s Nephew is of the first order. [...]

Few are the stories that are vouched for by a lead sentence alone. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Call me Ishmael. He was born with [...]

Perhaps few twentieth-century writers in English were as bankable in the long-run as Graham Greene. I am not speaking in the mass-market/pulp-paperback sense of the word, nor in the high-literary James Joyce/Ernest Hemingway/T.S. Eliot sense, either. But somewhere between these two, Graham Greene gouged a niche—make that a ravine—and filled it with an international-experience (and [...]

Though ice cold logic was ever his bread and butter, Mr. Sherlock Holmes had a talent and taste for histrionics. While skilled as an actor, as “The Sign of Four” and “A Scandal in Bohemia” proves, Holmes was also a dramatist, as demonstrated in “The Naval Treaty” and “The Six Napoleons.” The great consulting detective [...]

For some considerable time I have been living, as regards books, with the minimum of comfort and decency—with, in fact, the bare necessaries of life, such necessaries being, in my case, sundry dictionaries, Boswell, an atlas, Wordsworth, an encyclopedia, Shakespeare, Whitaker, some De Maupassant, a poetical anthology, Verlaine, Baudelaire, a natural history of my native [...]

It was bound to happen. Even the venerable and visceral occupation of piracy has fallen to the vicissitudes of the movies. The bold and brazen pirates of the West Indies have a reputation in rags and ruins thanks to the ravages of the American entertainment crisis—but it is not too late to rescue the New [...]

Howard Pyle’s The Wonder Clock (1887), a collection of folk tales and fairy tales with illustrations that depict the various scenes of a twenty-four period in a typical home of the time, organizes the stories according to the hours of the day beginning at 1:00 p.m. One O’Clock One of the Clock, and silence deep [...]

The boy who is really a puppet begins to cry, and not merely to cry, but to cry “desperately.” He says, “The Talking-cricket was right. I did wrong to rebel against my papa and to run away from home… If my papa was here I should not now be dying of yawning! Oh! What a [...]

Over the past few years, I have been winding my way through a number of books about World War II. I close each book with a pounding ache of loss, struggling to grasp such atrocity. And while I can never presume to know how God was working in the souls of those whose faith was [...]

The craft of the painter or the sculptor, G.K. Chesterton would contend, can reveal, like a law, the rich complexity of reality: this law of fine art (when done finely) curbs man’s passion to control and dominate. It is a law which encourages man’s desire for standing in wonder for the Truth and its vastness. [...]

The modern world approaches many problems with the outlook of a therapeutic society. For every ailment, complaint, or difficulty, it prescribes medication, some drug to change the mind, calm the nerves, stifle the energy, overcome depression, or control the appetite. An overmedicated society that depends on a pharmaceutical industry to provide for its happiness, peace, [...]

Lent is a burden and a blessing. It calls Catholics to crawl beneath the weight of themselves to the Cross of Christ and come face to face with who they are. No one will be content with that vision. Most would rather hide from themselves, burying their being deep beneath distractions and denials. Lent is [...]

In 1938, the world was waiting for war. Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia. The United States was battling the Great Depression. The Great New England Hurricane had struck. And then, this was heard over the American radio waves: Streets are all jammed. Noise in crowds like New Year’s Eve in city. Wait a minute… Enemy now [...]

As all human beings in their journeys of life make daily choices and important decisions, their destinies acquire a definite direction that guides their histories and shapes their future lives. While no person can control all the circumstances of his life, the behavior of other people, or the vicissitudes of fickle Fortune, he can control [...]

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