Great Books for Our Sons
My wife and I made a decision when we began having children, to make our home conducive to reading. We purchased bean bag chairs, reading lamps and made reading corners all over the house. Each bathroom had a basket of books by the toilet, each bed had a reading shelf, and since we allow reading at the breakfast table, we had a stand of books for reading by the kitchen counter. The Goal: to create a culture of reading in our family. Mommy reads, Daddy reads, we read to the kids, we read to each other, we discuss the books we are reading at the table, and we listen to audio books in the car.
Here are some great books that every son should read:
The Cult of Levi by Kenton E. Biffert is my second novel and the first in a series. The story surrounds the main character, Sir Benedict, who is a Knight of the Cross working exclusively for the Pope. In this journey, he is sent on a mission to infiltrate a rising cult. To infiltrate the cult he must face suffering. There is a heavy theme of redemptive suffering and morality. It is high action, with a great hero and epic battles! Available on Amazon.
Intoxinated by Kenton E. Biffert is my first novel. The story's hero, Dolan, is a young man that I knew for many years. He was a vibrant, fun, risk-taking boy with the making of a hero. Unfortunately he was murdered at the prime of his life. This book, though an urban fantasy, is true to his character. Dolan and his friends sneak into the sewer system under the city and discover a secret power challenges their integrity, character and they leave changed forever ... some not for the best. Available on Amazon.
Dove by Robin Lee Graham is his own story of how he sailed around the world alone at the age of 16. It is an epic journey of despair, love, risk, heroism, faith, and joy. Inspiring and a book I'll definitely have my sons read.
The Young Man's Guide is just what the title states. It is a guide for the life of a man. It discusses what it means to be a man, the virtues a man should excel at, marriage, celibate vocations and ends with a myriad of excellent prayers. You can also get it in a pocket size version which I personally prefer.
The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset looks a bit 'girly' from the cover, but is a great book and I will have all 4 of my boys read this book when they turn 18 years old. Why? The story juxtapositions two men: the father of the daughter and the lover. Tragedy happens. One man is one his face before the Blessed Sacrament. The other is devious and snake-like. Which leaves the question: which man do you want to be like?
Their Yesterdays by Harold Bell Wright is a classic in gender studies. It walks through the journey of a man and then the journey of a woman and then how they meet. What is key, is a son gets insight into how a lady thinks and how different and precious they are. It is an excellent book for all sons over 16 years of age.
The Chronicles of Pyrdain by Lloyd Alexander is an action packed series. He wastes very little time with scenery descriptions and jumps into action in every chapter. Its redeeming quality is the main character: the assistant pig keeper. This title is worn with chagrin at the beginning of the series and it becomes a title of humility worn well at the end. This is a series about a boy becoming a man through taking responsibility for his actions, defending truth and beauty, and killing his own pride.
The Boy Scouts Handbook is fantastic because it is living proof of how our education systems continue to dummy down to expectations for our children. This handbook, the 1911 edition, shows how to attain each badge and this is the exciting part. The boys were challenged, the badges were difficult to obtain, and reading about it is inspiring. The rest of the book has descriptions of all the necessary skills a boy needs to be always prepared.
White Fang, one of the most famous books of Jack London, is excellent for two reasons:
a. You see the power of love over savagery
b. London keeps the roles of man and beast real. Man is a god to the beast. The beast is all instinct.
Very well done and with many lessons to be learned.
Call of the Wild, one of the most famous books of Jack London, is another excellent book. In this book he follows the call for the wild in the dog 'Buck'. It echoes the call of the wild in every man's heart as well, which is an interesting contemplation when the book is finished.
Tom Sawyer, is the one book that most perfectly captures boyhood. Tom is the king of being a boy. This book should be read not only by boys, who would simply enjoy the similarities they see in themselves, but by every teacher and parent so that they too can come to glimpse the heart of boyhood.
The Twisted Claw, is the book that started my journey to reading. Up to reading this book in grade 5, I despised reading. Thank God for Hardy Boy books! I read every single one and loved the adventure. They are clean, with great fights and great family morals. They have all been reprinted and modernized, but I still prefer my sons to read the classic editions.
The Martyr's Song, by Ted Dekker is a book I have read out to my grade 4 class for many years. It is beautiful story of a priest who stands up against tyranny and tries to protect his flock. He and another are martyred. It is a book of great strength, great passion, and great faith.
Developing the Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell is a book I read at the age of 17. It was instrumental for me as I knew, as a man, I was called to be a leader. Every man is called to fatherhood and thus leadership. This book is one of many by John C. Maxwell on the topic of leadership.
In the Reign of Terror: A story of the French Revolution, by G.A. Henty is a great historical novel. Henty is true to the history of the revolution and the reader experiences first hand a young man's journey to manhood risking his life for the lives of others. The English is a bit higher than we're used to, which makes it a good book to help push the reading levels of our boys higher.
Belisarius: The Last Shall be First, is a novel by Paolo Belzoni and is historically based after the fall of the Roman Empire. The book has many battles and two strong heroes who are wonderfully Catholic. The book is the first in a series and leaves the story with unfilled prophecies and potential falls from grace in the future. It is a story of making vows and keeping them, hard work and honesty. A book for older boys though as the language is difficult and there is a good amount of Latin.
The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a book of high adventure. An itinerant professor and an unlikely journalist head out to prove the professor's assertions of the presence of dinosaurs. They encounter danger around every corner. There is some great vocabulary and fantastic descriptions that some may find pedantic, but that I quite enjoyed. The telos of the story: there is manliness to be found in exploring and adventure and risking your life for a purpose.
Emile, by Rousseau is a book that most simply will never read as it is a tome. Further, any boy that I know of would have no interest in reading a book about how a tutor would raise a boy according the aspects of nature. However, book V is a section of the book that I'll have my son read before he begins to date or get married. Here, Rousseau, after raising and educating Emile according to the nature of man, he introduces Emile to Sophie. They fall in love. Rousseau then gives lectures to Emile on how to treat his wife, how to love, how to prepare himself for marriage - and it is excellent advice.
Otto of the Silver Hand, by Howard Pyle is a unique book for boys. It has some good battles and is written with a unique voice. The boy, Otto, is raised by monks and then his warring father takes him back. The gentleness engrained in him from his time in the monastery doesn't leave him and in the end proves how much greater wisdom and kindness is then force and might.
Rolf and the Viking Bow, by Allen French is written in a unique style and takes a bit to get used to. Once the reader is comfortable with the style and the norse names, the plot begins to develop. The story is about Rolf, who has an enemy - a jealous man who hates his father. Through various evil schemes, Rolf loses all he holds dear, including his family and is exiled. Rolf then journeys to find the bow that will shoot an arrow far enough to save his father. The events that unfold lead to Rolf having to choose between revenge and forgiveness. A great story for young boys!