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Richard Harries's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Richard Harries recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Richard Harries's favorite book recommendations of all time.


On Christian Theology

This distillation of 20 years of Rowan Williams' pastoral and academic work tackles many of the most searching questions of theology and society at the end of the twentieth century.

* Collects the work of a prominent writer and serving bishop on the history of Christian theology and spirituality.
* Brings together Rowan Williams' theological essays with studies of wider issues from a theological point of view.
* Includes an introduction to his work by Bishop Williams.
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesThis is a collection of his essays from the 1980s and 90s on a range of subjects, he is acutely aware of all modern dilemmas. (Source)

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This anonymous fourteenth-century text is the glory of English mysticism, and one of the most practical and useful guides to finding union with God ever written. Carmen Acevedo Butcher’s new translation is the first to bring the text into a modern English idiom—while remaining strictly faithful to the meaning of the original Middle English.

The Cloud of Unknowing consists of a series of letters written by a monk to his student or disciple, instructing him (or her) in the way of Divine union. Its theology is presented in a way that is remarkably easy to understand, as well...
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesThis book, for me, is very important because Christianity has this strong mystical tradition, which can often be neglected. (Source)

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Augustine's Confessions is one of the most influential and most innovative works of Latin literature. Written in the author's early forties in the last years of the fourth century A.D. and during his first years as a bishop, they reflect on his life and on the activity of remembering and interpreting a life. Books I-IV are concerned with infancy and learning to talk, schooldays, sexual desire and adolescent rebellion, intense friendships and intellectual exploration. Augustine evolves and analyses his past with all the resources of the reading which shaped his mind: Virgil and Cicero,... more

Susan JacobyThe Confessions is a book that everybody should read. It is seminal, if you can excuse the expression. (Source)

Carlos EireSt Augustine of Hippo was one of the first thinkers to struggle with the concepts of time, memory and eternity. (Source)

Richard HarriesHe was a wonderful, wonderful writer and a deeply passionate man. He was very sensual. (Source)

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<div>Here is a pugnacious book by a philosopher who often hits the headlines. The book reflects on the nature of religion and how it relates or ought to relate to the rest of life.</div><br/><div> </div><br/><div>Many people today are totally indifferent to religion but religion is far from dead. Indeed religions are intensely defended and aggressively pursued. Religion is a cause for dissension and death. This is beyond... more
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesYes, she’s arguing for politics without religion, taking religion out of politics. It’s a very dramatic title, and I have a lot of sympathy with what she’s saying. She’s particularly irritated and indeed angry about the impression being given by some religious people that religion is the source of all morality and that it holds the high moral ground. For example, she is annoyed by the assumption... (Source)

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The role of women in our society has changed out of all recognition. But it has changed least in the House of Commons. I want to describe those changes and the resistances to them through the magnifying glass of my own life, a life that coincides with our turbulent post-war history.'

Shirley Williams was born to politics. As well as being influenced by her mother, Vera Brittian, her father George Caitlin, a leading political scientist, encouraged his daughter to have high ambitions for herself - including daring to climb the bookshelves in his library. Elected as MP for Hitchin in...
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesThat’s very interesting, because I think that there is a fascinating juxtaposition of the de Gaulle book with Shirley Williams’s book. Shirley Williams is also a person of very strong conviction, but, as she herself said, she perhaps lacked enough confidence and ruthlessness to aim for the top job. She is a woman who had to fight her way in what was then a very male-dominated world, and, although... (Source)

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The General

Charles De Gaulle And The France He Saved

This is a magisterial, sweeping biography of one of the great leaders of the 20th century - General Charles De Gaulle. less
Recommended by Sudhir Hazareesingh, Richard Harries, and 2 others.

Sudhir HazareesinghNo leader of modern times was more unique and more uniquely national than Charles de Gaulle. (Source)

Richard HarriesThe reason I’m interested in this book is because de Gaulle offers a particular model of leadership – very autocratic and yet a leadership that saved France on at least two occasions. (Source)

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In his recent writings on religion and secularization, Habermas has challenged reason to clarify its relation to religious experience and to engage religions in a constructive dialogue. Given the global challenges facing humanity, nothing is more dangerous than the refusal to communicate that we encounter today in different forms of religious and ideological fundamentalism. Habermas argues that in order to engage in this dialogue, two conditions must be met: religion must accept the authority of secular reason as the fallible results of the sciences and the universalistic egalitarianism in... more
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesHabermas is also writing from what I imagine is a secular agnostic background. But what is so interesting about this book is that he is quite unequivocal in his affirmation of what religion has given to western society: concepts like the value of the person and solidarity in society, for example. He thinks our society has derived these values from Christian faith. He believes that in the politics... (Source)

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Ill Fares the Land

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we think about how we should live today.

In Ill Fares The Land, Tony Judt, one of our leading historians and thinkers, reveals how we have arrived at our present dangerously confused moment. Judt masterfully crystallizes what we’ve all been feeling into a way to think our way into, and thus out of, our great collective dis-ease about the current state of things.

As the economic collapse of 2008 made clear, the social contract that defined postwar life in Europe and America – the guarantee of a basal level of security, stability...
Recommended by Richard Harries, and 1 others.

Richard HarriesI found Tony Judt, who has just died, very honest and wise. All the obituaries said he was a wonderfully stimulating teacher, but I only know him through his writing. His thesis is that over the last 30 or 40 years life has been dominated by the pursuit of wealth, by an excessive individualism, and by the desire of people to express and fulfil themselves. He castigates the west for having that... (Source)

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Moral Man and Immoral Society

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) was one of America's foremost twentieth-century religious thinkers and social critics. As pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, he became deeply interested in social problems. He was Professor of Applied Christianity at Union Theological Seminary, remaining there until his retirement. Ultimately, he abandoned his liberal Protestant hopes for the church's moral rule of society and became a Socialist activist.

Moral Man and Immoral Society is Niebuhr's eloquent argument for the church's involvement in social reforms as well as a platform for his...
Recommended by Barack Obama, Richard Harries, and 2 others.

Barack ObamaI love him. He’s one of my favorite philosophers. (Source)

Richard HarriesHe is one of the few theologians who has really grappled with the issue of power. A lot of his book is about how you control power in a brutal world. (Source)

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The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.

This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear...

Randall StephensonFavorite book: The Brothers Karamazov. (Source)

Kenan MalikDostoevsky was a devout Christian and The Brothers Karamazov, his last and possibly greatest novel, was a heartfelt plea for the necessity of faith. The phrase If God does not exist, everything is permitted is often attributed to Dostoevsky. He actually never wrote that, but the sentiment certainly runs through much of his work, and most especially through The Brothers Karamazov. (Source)

Rachel KushnerThis book taught me something I knew on a much deeper level but did not have the language or the reasoning to state: that innocence is something very durable and interior, and also evanescent. (Source)

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