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Selina O'Grady's Top Book Recommendations

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


The Children Act

A fiercely intelligent, well-respected High Court judge in London faces a morally ambiguous case while her own marriage crumbles in a novel that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona...
Recommended by The Secret Barrister, Selina O'Grady, and 2 others.

The Secret BarristerThis novel is as impeccably researched as you would expect given the author, which pleases the legal pedant in me, but its greater achievement still is its illustration of the humanity beating throughout the justice system. (Source)

Selina O'GradyIan McEwan is the subtlest of the New Athiests. Most of his novels show that we, as humans, just as we need to live in groups, have a desperate desire to make meaning. Many neo-atheists fail to understand that religion is quite a good way of doing this. Stupid though its beliefs might be, nonetheless it does give us a meaning, which we so desperately need. What’s interesting about The Children... (Source)

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For most people in England today, the church is simply the empty building at the end of the road, visited for the first time, if at all, when dead. It offers its sacraments to a population that lives without rites of passage, and which regards the National Health Service rather than the National Church as its true spiritual guardian. Here, Scruton argues that the Anglican Church is the forlorn trustee of an architectural and artistic inheritance that remains one of the treasures of European civilization. He contends that it is a still point in the centre of English culture and that its... more
Recommended by Selina O'Grady, and 1 others.

Selina O'GradyI thought this was a balance between the left wing view of religion — which is Pullman’s — and Scruton’s, which is the right wing. Also, it explains how someone who, in my opinion, does not believe in the articles of faith does believe in religion as a community builder. I think that’s what’s left for a lot of people. You become part of a religion for its values of community rather than for... (Source)

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This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories. less
Recommended by Mary Warnock, Selina O'Grady, and 2 others.

Mary WarnockIt is a marvellous fantasy which is that there were twins born to the Virgin Mary. (Source)

Selina O'GradyThe book is about the struggle between the ideals of a religion and its actuality. (Source)

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It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town an aging Classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would astonish even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to...
Recommended by Claire Fox, Selina O'Grady, and 2 others.

Claire FoxThe main focus of the novel is a professor of Classics and faculty dean called Coleman Silk. It is a liberal university, and the reason why I chose this novel is to show how doing things in the name of tolerance can lead to a right old mess. (Source)

Selina O'GradyThe book is about the violence that you do to yourself, and to your identity, when you try and imitate the in-group, the majority. (Source)

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The Aeneid

The Aeneid is an epic poem written by Virgil in the 1st century BC. It's hero is Aeneas, a Trojan who travels from Troy to Italy to eventually found Rome. Some argue that The Aeneid is Virgil's answer to Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, combining two genres of the day - travel and war - into one poem. Take that, Homer!

No civilization is without a bit of revisionist history: so it was that Virgil picked up the story of Aeneas, which was already floating around at the time, and forged an epic founding myth for Rome. And The Aeneid fit the bill, as it...

Mark ZuckerbergOh, it’s not a favorite book or anything like that, I just added it because I liked it. I don’t think there’s any real significance to the fact that it’s listed there and other books aren’t. But there are definitely books—like the Aeneid—that I enjoyed reading a lot more. (Source)

Ryan HolidayI made an effort to read some classical poets and playwrights this year. The Aneiad was far and away the most quotable, readable and memorable of all of them. There’s no other way to put: the story is AMAZING. Better than the Odyssey, better than Juvenal’s Satires. Inspiring, beautiful, exciting, and eminently readable, I loved this. I took more notes on it that I have on anything I’ve read in a... (Source)

Ted TurnerWhen I got to college, I was a classics major, and that was mainly the study of Greek - and to a lesser extent Roman - history and culture, and that fascinated me: the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid by Virgil. (Source)

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