A while back on this page I undertook an ill-fated venture which I called the Ship's Manifest. The idea was that this website was something like my ark in which I hoped to weather the storms of ideological hail swirling about the modern world, and the "manifest" was meant to detail the cargo (intellectual) of the ship. In plain terms, it was my reading list. (NB: The "Manifest" project has since been dismantled and the entries removed, so don't drive yourself nuts looking for them.)
This was ill-fate for a few reasons. For one, I had become a little too trigger-happy in employing the (perhaps somewhat melodramatic) conceit of my blog's name, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, and was stretching metaphors a bit. The result was that the somewhat melodramatic began to border on the histrionic.
A second reason the venture was ill-fated was that my seminary pursuits at the time precluded my posting with as much regularity as I moved through books.
A third and final reason the idea failed was that nobody ought really to give a damn what I'm reading at any given time. Sometimes, I don't even care. Not everything I read is easily related to my vocation and I felt I was shoe-horning certain things into place in order to derive Distributist wisdom from works that were only tangentially related. This is not to say that Chesterton's maxim does not hold true, that "there is no such thing as a different subject." But if I'm going to spend time writing about books here, I want it to be in a precise and valuable way such that my readers can discern what might or might not be worth their while. And I also want a way to be able to denote when a literary work is being discussed particularly for its relation to Distributist thought. Thus, I have reviewed recently the beginning of Dawson's The Judgment of the Nations and commended it to my readers, but if pressed I would not say it is essential reading for the Distributist.
So, I'm going to try this again. Only this time 'round, I'll be employing a different format and mechanism and hopefully make much less a hash of it. The new feature will be called The Distributist's Bookshelf. I will be making a little virtual bookshelf (or stealing one from the web if I can find a neat code that fits my purposes) either in the side-bar or on the bottom of this page. It may end up being nothing other than an Amazon.com "list" of books and reviews that are good for Distributists to have, with my explanations of why I think so and maybe some other insights I may want to share. I will employ a rating system for these books. I will rate them from 1 to 5 diamonds (♦) in terms of overall quality (literary merit, content, achievement, etc.); and I will rate them in terms of 1 to 4 spades (♠) in terms of their "necessity" to the Distributist's library(one being least and four most essential).
The list of labels in the left-hand margin of the page will include Distributist's Bookshelf as a new easy-click way of finding all of the entries for the topic. Entries detailing other books that I consider from time to time just for fun will simply bear the label books as is the case now. All of the entries for The Distributist's Bookshelf will appear as well under the label for books, since that is what will be considered in this project. So, in order to isolate only those books highlighted as more-or-less essential reading for Distributist, the new label for the bookshelf project will be the way to go.
Now that this messy bit of housekeeping is out of the way, I ask you to stay tuned for the first entry in my new project. It's a selection which I consider an absolute must for all Distributists (♠ ♠ ♠ ♠), and the choice just may surprise you...