That’s a trick question, of course: the imaginative conservative never has everything because he never rests in his pursuit of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. As Winston Elliott has written on this site, “Let the contemplation of great ideas and beautiful words never end.”
In that spirit, here are ten Christmas gift suggestions from ISI. There’s an added bonus: these are all on sale this month. In fact, every book is 50 percent off as part of ISI’s Christmas sale.
(1) What Is Conservatism?: Where else can you find a book that features Russell Kirk, F. A. Hayek, William F. Buckley Jr., Frank Meyer, M. Stanton Evans, Wilhelm Röpke, Willmoore Kendall, and other great conservative thinkers—all in about 250 pages? This new edition of the 1964 classic includes an insightful foreword by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. You’ll be struck by how relevant these arguments are to today’s debates.
(2) Life Under Compulsion: This incisive look at contemporary culture shows why the American Spectator puts Anthony Esolen “in the top rank of authors of cultural criticism, following in the footsteps of Richard Weaver, Walker Percy, Russell Kirk, John Senior, Christopher Lasch, and Roger Scruton.” In a recent review, Louis Markos marveled at Esolen’s ability to come up so often with “a razor-sharp observation that makes the reader pause in wonder.”
(3) Favorites by Russell Kirk: You can find many of the finest books by the godfather of imaginative conservatism, including The Roots of American Order, The Essential Russell Kirk, The American Cause, The Politics of Prudence, Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered, and Eliot and His Age.
(4) Modern Age: Speaking of Russell Kirk, the journal he founded in 1957, Modern Age, remains the leading quarterly of intellectual conservatism. The historian Wilfred McClay recently called it “required reading for those who want to engage conservative thought at a high level.” With prominent writers like Rémi Brague, Peter Augustine Lawler, Yuval Levin, Walter McDougall, Thomas Hibbs, and Daniel McCarthy regularly contributing, a Modern Age subscription makes a great gift for the imaginative conservative—especially because print subscribers now receive a complimentary digital subscription as well.
(5) The Triumph of Faith: You’ve probably read the headlines and seen the studies: people are abandoning religion, right? Well, no, actually. In fact, as the acclaimed author and eminent scholar of religion Rodney Stark shows in this myth-busting new book, the world is more religious than ever. The Triumph of Faith will give even the most determined secularist pause.
(6) Favorites by Bradley J. Birzer: The Imaginative Conservative cofounder Brad Birzer’s wonderful new biography of Russell Kirk certainly makes a great gift. I also recommend two other books Brad has written: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth, which is “essential reading for all Tolkien enthusiasts” (Booklist), and American Cicero, “an excellent short biography” (Weekly Standard) of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.
(7) Conservative Heroes: Bestselling author Amity Shlaes contributes the foreword to this selection of profiles in conservative courage. Reviewing the book in the Weekly Standard, Gerald Russello wrote that Conservative Heroes “has strong echoes of Russell Kirk’s 1953 tome The Conservative Mind.” Indeed, Kirk would nod in approval at many of the heroes profiled in this book.
(8) The Great Tradition: This acclaimed anthology collects the best writings on what it means to be an educated human being. From Plato, Aristotle, and Seneca to Newman, Lewis, and Voegelin, some of Western civilization’s greatest minds are featured.
(9) Kindle Liberty: Here is a library that fits in your hand: a new Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader that ISI has loaded with a carefully curated selection of fifty classic works of the Western tradition—from Aristotle and Cicero, to Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville, to Russell Kirk and Whittaker Chambers. Kindle Liberty is an ideal gift for anyone who wants to understand imaginative conservatism.
(10) A Humane Economy: The great economist Wilhelm Röpke’s masterwork is now available in paperback. As the Wall Street Journal noted, reading A Humane Economy is like being in “a seminar on integral freedom conducted by a professor of uncommon brilliance.” The excellent new introduction by Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute reminds us how desperately we need Röpke’s wisdom today.
Of course, that’s just a small sampling. I encourage you to take a look around at the more than 250 books and e-books in the ISI store, all of which are half price for the holidays. You’re sure to find a great gift for the imaginative conservative in your life (or even new additions to your own library).
These books and journals make great gifts because, as Winston Churchill said, “Nothing makes a man more reverent than a library.” Or, for a less high-minded explanation, there’s always this, from P. J. O’Rourke: “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
Happy reading—and merry Christmas!