In chains all that was left of freedom was life, just existence; but to exist without choice was the same as death. -Bernard Malamud, The Fixer

Hugh Hewitt posts about books twice read today and it got me to thinking about books that have made great impressions on me. I read Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer while a junior in high school and it had an amazing impression on me. Later on in college I did a painting of The Fixer and went on to read more of Malamud’s books. The Natural was great but in my opinion The Fixer was magnificent. The book was set in Kiev which makes it a timely read for those who haven’t yet been so privileged. I would hope that conditions are better in the Ukraine but current news casts doubt on that.

Although I haven’t read it twice it has been so long since I did read The Fixer I want to read it again.

I have read Dicken’s David Copperfield, Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, George Eliot’s Middlemarch , Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind twice.

I discovered Susan Howatch years ago and her Starbridge books about the Anglican Church in England were excellent. Absolute Powers was my favorite. I have read every book written by her.

And how can I forget Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? I read this book first when I was thirteen (it was one of my mother’s favorites) and then again in my twenties and another time when my daughters were teenagers. It’s a classic.

And of course I have read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia several times, and once with my son when he was little. Mere Christianity touched me more than all of Lewis’ books because it helped me to grow as a Christian. Touched by Joy was also wonderful.

I love the Harry Potter series. I was taking a train from Paris to Heidelberg with my daughters when I was reading the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and there was something magical about sharing Harry’s first train experience. I have read and reread these books.

I was thirteen when I first read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, a biographical novel about Michelangelo. After reading that book Michelangelo became my first crush.

Reading about great artists became interesting to me so while still a teenager I read Lust for Life also by Irving Stone about the life of Vincent Van Gogh. I was touched by the devotion of Vincent and his brother Theo so I read The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh Edited by Mark Roskill. I still read this book as I teach my students about art history.

I’m putting The Fixer on my Christmas wish list.