Out past the Hamptons, near Montauk, New York, is a stretch of beach my family and I love to visit in the summer. On this quiet beach I'm able to lose myself in a book in a way that's just not possible in my Manhattan apartment. And if I have a choice regarding what to read, I'll almost always go for the classics.
Two years ago I realized I’d never read any of Jules Verne's books, and I launched into a novel that my daughter had just finished, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I loved it; and then I moved on to a novel that's considered Verne's best: The Mysterious Island. That’s about five Civil War prisoners who hijack a hot air balloon and are blown by a storm to an uninhabited Pacific island. From scratch, these brave men create their own extraordinary civilization. It's one of the most captivating books I've ever read.
I also just read a book by H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau. It's about a shipwreck survivor who washes up on a Pacific island, and discovers a terrible secret: A scientist is creating human-animal hybrids. It's a cautionary tale about what can happen when scientists, using cutting-edge technology, throw off all moral restraints in their determination to play God. Sadly, Wells' warnings are needed today far more than they were when he wrote the book in 1896.
Another amazing book is C. S. Lewis's science fiction novel, Perelandra, about a fictional trip to Venus. It’s just spectacular. As Chuck Colson noted a few years ago on BreakPoint, with Perelandra, “Lewis takes us away from the constraints of the world we know and reveals the vastness of God in a way unlike any we have ever known.”
Now if you're looking for something a little less escapist, you might try reading The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief. Author Larry Taunton, a brilliant Christian apologist who has debated the likes of Christopher Hitchens, describes how he and his wife adopted a young Ukrainian girl. It's a moving story — and if you ever need a colorful apologetic for the real power of Christian faith, look no further than that book.
Finally, I'd like to recommend a book titled Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family and Freedom Before It's Too Late, by my friends James Robison and Jay Richards. This book offers an easily understood explanation of why fiscal conservatism and social conservatism are inextricably intertwined. Knowing why we believe what we believe is very important, and this book — a good one for laymen to read — will help you to grasp the connections between the great truths of Christianity.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” This is necessary, Lewis noted, because “every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
Lewis is absolutely right. And that's why I'm recommending two new books and three old ones. Toss them into your beach bag, stretch out on your own favorite beach — after slathering yourself with sunscreen, of course — and open a great book.
And before you head out, come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll link you to a list of Chuck Colson’s favorite books, as well as other recommendations from our BreakPoint staff — for you and for your kids!
Publication date: June 27, 2012