American soldiers near Algiers in April 1944. via

Here’s a small homage to a category G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell popularized: the good bad book—basically, hokey but appealing. I propose classing certain other books as good good. They are both viscerally enjoyable and deeply serious, like an old-fashioned Sunday dinner with a roast and succotash and homemade wild blackberry pie and theological discussion, preliminary to a long, fierce, wily game of kick-the-can.

Alas, there don’t seem to be many books from recent decades that qualify, but I’ve made a few discoveries in recent years. One that my husband, Tom,...


New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

Popular Right Now