Skip to main content

Culture Books

Rediscovered Classics


Rediscovered Classics

Basic Economics 

Thomas Sowell

Now in its fifth printing, Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics remains a best-selling and “commonsense” economics textbook. Its relative simplicity (no graphs or higher-level math) makes Sowell’s arguments more accessible than similar books. Centered on ideas of scarcity and the impact of alternative uses for resources, Sowell communicates here how economies work. He also shows why economies that forbid market competition (i.e., communism) inevitably fail. Real-life stories using brands readers will recognize (like Kodak and Ford) keep chapters interesting. Sowell recently retired from his syndicated column: This challenging, worthwhile read will keep alive his acute analysis.

Stepping Heavenward 

Elizabeth Prentiss

First published in 1869, Stepping Heavenward chronicles through diaries the life and spiritual development of fictional character Katherine (“Kate”) Mortimer. In the early entries Kate appears as an immature young woman, caught up in everyday concerns. Gradually the subject matter shifts, and her thoughts turn more to God. Kate’s struggles to love Christ and follow Him ring true today. Although a 21st-century woman’s life is different than Kate’s 19th-century one, the joys and struggles are universal. Stepping Heavenward will most interest women and girls, but open-minded guys may benefit from Prentiss’ practical wisdom.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet 

Leland Ryken

Hamlet may be William Shakespeare’s best-known and most-produced play. In this 96-page commentary, Leland Ryken, longtime Wheaton College English professor, explains the play’s Christian themes. In a general introduction and in act-by-act summaries, he explores themes such as justice, death, and predestination. The book also offers review questions and movie recommendations. In addition to his own thoughts, Ryken surveys other interpretations to encourage readers to come to their own conclusions. The commentary is a thought-provoking complement to Shakespeare’s text, which the book does not include.

Knowing God 

J.I. Packer

What does it mean to know God? British-born theologian James Innell Packer first answered that question in a series of articles for Evangelical Magazine, later publishing them in book form in 1973. Against modern skepticism and “small thoughts of God,” Packer invites readers to meditate in a systematic and rigorous way on the glory and majesty of God’s character and purposes. He does so with remarkable pastoral tenderness, at one point describing the Bible as God “opening his heart to you.” Throughout, Packer insists true knowledge of God must include trusting His Word and seeking to be conformed to it.


Chip and Joanna Gaines

HGTV (Chip and Joanna Gaines)


Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s show Fixer Upper recently published The Magnolia Story (Thomas Nelson, 2016). It contains humorous, heartfelt stories about the Christian couple’s journey. The book describes the pair’s sweet romance, offers creative homemaking ideas, and acknowledges God’s providence. Penned before media criticism of their pastor’s stance against homosexuality (originating in a Buzzfeed article by Kate Arthur on Nov. 29), the book’s sales remained strong through December despite negative publicity.

Last month WORLD Radio launched a Classic Book of the Month series to help WORLD members read books together. The books to the left, along with January’s selection, Faith’s Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon, make up our winter/spring selections. To join in, simply listen for Classic Book of the Month segments on WORLD Radio the first Monday of every month. You can also follow my tweets about the series using @emilyawhitten and #WRclassicbooks on Twitter. —E.W.