A Canticle For Leibowitz
Asking someone “What is your favorite book?” is like asking someone
“What is your favorite food?”. Sometimes you are in a mood for steak
and eggs, and sometimes you are in a mood for ice cream and cake, and
sometimes you are in a mood for carrots and broccoli. Most of the
time, though, my favorite nonfiction book is
Less Than Words Can Say,
and most of the time, my favorite fiction book is A Canticle
For Leibowitz. I have read a lot of books, so it means something
when I say that a book is my favorite.
The reason I like A Canticle For Leibowitz is that it makes you
think. The book is divided into three parts (Fiat Homo, Fiat Lux and
Fiat Voluntas Tua), and they make you think in monotonic progression
— the second part makes you think more than the first part, and by
the time you get to the third part, every page is making you think,
about important things.
The year after its 1960 publication, A Canticle For Leibowitz won
the Hugo award for best science fiction or fantasy novel (it did not
win the Nebula award, but it could not have, because its publication
predated the Nebula awards, which were first awarded in 1965).
If you have a computer with Internet connectivity, then you can read
the book in the comfort of your own home, without bestirring yourself
to go to the library, because it is available on my website, at
For those members of the book club who went to Columbia after the
Latin requirement was dropped — there is a website offering a
complete study guide for the book, with both translation and notes, at
(I have not linked my HTML version of the novel to the study guide,
because that would be too much work, and I have a life; so, if you are
reading the book on-line, keep both websites open in your browser, if
you cannot otherwise understand the Latin).
The last book I recommended was Just Six Numbers and, as far as I
could tell, no one, except Phil and me, had read the book (nor has
this conjecture ever been denied, by anyone). A Canticle For
Leibowitz does not have any numbers in it, so hopefully, this time,
you will all read it.
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