Courtesy of Zena Hitz *05

As a tutor at the liberal-arts bastion St. John’s College, Annapolis, Zena Hitz *05 guides students through the great books. She also lectures about the necessity of leisure through the Thomistic Institute, and recently published Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, in which she argues that a deep interest in the humanities can lead to a rich inner life. PAW asked her to recommend books about lives enriched through thought, and she suggested these: 

The Peregrine

By J.A. Baker

Baker was a clerk at the Automobile Association in Essex, England, who studied the peregrine falcons in his spare time. He condensed 10 years of study into this short literary masterpiece. Baker’s seemingly small habit of birdwatching opens him out into reflection on the fundamentals of nature, natural world, and animal and human violence.   


By Saint Augustine

Augustine’s memoir of his spiritual transformation through philosophical study has transfixed readers for centuries. His story is gripping in its broad outlines, but it is so intricately crafted that I continue to learn from the book by reflecting on even its tiniest details. 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

As told to Alex Haley

Malcolm X is famous as a speaker and an activist for Black liberation. His autobiography gives an account of the inner workings of that life, how his work was sustained by intense inward reflection, and a vast appetite for reading classics of all ages and cultures.