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readinginwinterWhatever you think about the choice of General James Mattis for secretary of defense, you have to admire this about him: He takes his personal library of more than 6,000 books with him to every post.

An e-mail the general wrote in 2003 has gone viral. In it he swiftly demonstrates why it’s so foolish to say you’re “too busy to read”:

“The problem with being too busy to read,” he wrote, “is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way.”

Fortunately, followers of The Imaginative Conservative don’t fall into the “too busy to read” trap. So here are ISI’s 10 Christmas gift suggestions for thoughtful readers; all these books (and hundreds of others) are available for 50% off as part of ISI’s Christmas sale.

1) The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: World magazine named this a finalist for 2016 Book of the Year. And with good reason. As Standpoint says, it’s an “exhilarating and unput-downable read” that demolishes the myth of a tolerant, multicultural Islamic “Golden Age.” Catholic Culture calls Myth “as masterful as it is pointed,” and the New Criterion says it “shows in meticulous detail… that intolerance, segregation, formal inequality, and brutality were the order of the day.”

Real Heroes2) Real Heroes: A great gift for readers of any age, but especially for young people. All of us can learn from Lawrence W. Reed’s 40 compelling profiles of men and women of character and courage, who range from major historical figures to remarkable people you’ve never heard of. Radio host Dennis Prager is so excited about this book that he recently told his audience, “We need these stories. We need to read them to our children and our grandchildren.”

3) Life Under Compulsion: Imaginative Conservative readers know Anthony Esolen as one of today’s finest writers and scholars; protesters at his own school, Providence College, have somehow cast him as a bigot. Read Prof. Esolen’s latest book, an incisive look at contemporary culture, and judge for yourself who’s right. (Hint: the American Spectator was on to something when it put Prof. 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.”)

4) What Is Conservatism?: A question many are asking today—and here you’ll find answers from Russell Kirk, F. A. Hayek, William F. Buckley Jr., Frank Meyer, M. Stanton Evans, Wilhelm Röpke, Willmoore Kendall, and other great conservative thinkers. These arguments couldn’t be more timely.

End of the Modern World5) The End of the Modern World: Here’s another twentieth-century classic that is remarkably relevant today. Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ cited the priest-philosopher Romano Guardini more frequently than anyone except Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Read ISI’s new, expanded edition of Guardini’s End of the Modern World to find out why. As the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote, reading this book “is an engagement with a great mind and great spirit.”

6) Conscience and Its Enemies: The assaults on religious liberty are escalating. Arm yourself with Princeton professor Robert P. George’s brilliant responses in this updated and expanded paperback edition. National Review is spot-on when it says, “As a critic of liberalism, George is devastating”; he “ruthlessly exposes [his opponents’] sophistries.”

7) How the West Won: Rodney Stark’s page-turning book busts all the politically correct myths about Western civilization that the academy peddles. Every young person should read this history, which is now available in paperback (for only $9!). Actually, anyone looking for a good, one-volume history of Western civ should read it.

Roots of American Order8) Russell Kirk classics: You really can’t go wrong here. ISI offers many of the finest books by the godfather of imaginative conservatism, including The Politics of Prudence, The Essential Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order, The American Cause, Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered, and Eliot and His Age.

9) Kindle Liberty: Can’t pick just one book? Then how about 50 classics? This library fits right in your hand: it’s a new Kindle loaded with ISI’s carefully curated selection of 50 great works of the Western tradition—from Aristotle and Cicero, to Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville, to Russell Kirk and Whittaker Chambers. ISI’s Kindle Liberty makes a wonderful gift.

10) Modern Age: There couldn’t be a better time to give someone a subscription to “the principal quarterly of the intellectual Right”—or to subscribe yourself. In 2017 Russell Kirk’s journal will celebrate its 60th anniversary by welcoming a dynamic new editor: the acclaimed author, scholar, and commentator Peter Augustine Lawler. Under Prof. Lawler’s leadership, Modern Age will stake out a vision for conservatism in our contentious, confusing times by becoming the forum for debate of the most important ideas being batted about on the right. You won’t want to miss the reinvigorated Modern Age.

It’s hard to stop at 10 suggestions. This list could easily include Robert Nisbet’s Quest for Community, Bradley J. Birzer’s American Cicero and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth, or Daniel Kelly’s Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr., which Daniel McCarthy of the American Conservative recently called “one of the best short biographies of a conservative written in the past decade.”

Actually, you can choose from some 300 books and e-books in the ISI store, all of which are half price for the holidays. Consider this your easy and affordable way to find thoughtful gifts for your friends and family—or to add to your own library.

Happy reading—and merry Christmas!

Jed Donahue is vice president of publications for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and editor in chief of ISI Books.

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