Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book Recommendations?

The comments to the rant below caused me to post a positive follow up...I mean why complain without offering at least some sort of solution?

What are some recommendations that would be alternatives to the "cotton candy" variety of books we see all too often?

What are your favorites? These can be scholarly or they can be fictional or devotional, whatever.


I'll start:

Fiction -- I don't see why a specific "Christian" or religious genre of books is really all that necessary. I'd rather read something from an author that doesn't hit me with the obvious. I'd prefer to see Christian authors write books that will sell outside a "religious" bookstore. That is why Tolkein and Lews are so great. You have to think and "chew" for yourself. Some of you will groan, but I LOVE the Mitford series by Jan Karon. It is light reading, suitable for a plane, or an afternoon curled up on the couch with a cup of tea, etc. Some people think Father Tim, the lovable Episcopal priest who is the main character in the series, is too good to be true. I disagree. I think his human frailty is obvious. If I feel like I know the people in the book, it's a success. Fantasy/Science fiction fans, I liked Ted Dekker's "Circle Triogy ("Red," "Black," "White") and I found the portrayal of the Christ character compelling--most especially in the first book of the series. And of course, Lewis' Space Trilogy (three books). What? You haven't read them?

Devotional: Simple and profound, "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. "My Utmost for His Highest" by O. Chambers. I do prefer the updated version. O.C. is deep enough without struggling with the writing style. For difficult times, "Streams in the Desert" by Lettie Cowman (not for "up times" IMO. For the spiritual desert times, as the title says.) Anything by Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton. No. I don't agree with every single thing they say. Not necessary.

I've got to get some real work done, so I'll stop. Maybe will add more later.


Anonymous said...

"Fantasy/Science fiction fans, I liked Ted Dekker's "Circle Triogy ("Red," "Black," "White")"
While I thought the first book was REALLY good, I thought the last 2 were lacking. I felt like Ted was trying too hard to make it a "Christian" fantasy. I only finished them in the hopes that it got better and to see what the results were.

Besides Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (who are the best!) ~ I LOVE The Obsidian Trilogy.
It is a three-book fantasy series, chronicling the journey of Kellen Tavadon in relation to the third war between the Light and the Endarkened, co-written by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. (

It is a VERY profound battle between light and dark, how the more we seperate ourselves from those who are different, the more we open ourselves to attacks from the enemy. And this enemy, the Endarkened are demons that take pleasure in torturing mortals and using them as sacrifices.
I liked this series so much that I went out and bought the hard covers and had Mercedes Lackey autograph them. They may not be Christian authors, but the good vs evil plot is 2nd to none.

Ruth said...

I don't read Christian fiction. If I'm reading fiction, I want the stuff that I know isn't trying to sell me Christ in one way or another. Sorry.

For devotionals, I like AA and Al-anon meditation books. What they are saying is very Biblical without the obligatory Bible verse attached. If I'm reading to study, I want to study. If I want something to meditate on, I want some thoughts to grab on to. I want something the author has struggled with and found an answer for that I can mull over to see if it fits for me.

But then, I'm not a "normal" Christian with "normal" Christian tastes. I'm the one who goes into a Christian bookstore looking for a Bible cover that doesn't look like one because I don't see any need to *scream* "I'm a Christian!" if I'm living my life the way Christ wants me to. See? Not "normal" at all. Probably why I tend to be friends with people who are not Christian and they *like* me while they loathe most Christians.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

This is not supposed to recommendations of science fiction! Where are all the book lovers among my hordes of readers??

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of anything Robert B Parker writes, and I love buying collections of short stories, just to get a nice mix of themes.

As far as non fiction, pretty much anything Betty Crocker puts out makes my list. ;)


chartreuseova said...

I had to mull this over for a few days. I've grown cynical and couldn't remember any good books I've read...but then I remembered.

"Christianity for the Rest of Us" and "Affirmations of a Dissenter" by C. Joseph Sprague have given me hope.

"Interior Castles" by Teresa of Avila is waiting to be read. So I'll have to reserve judgement on that. I've almost finished "Words on Fire: One Woman's Journey into the Sacred" by Vanessa Ochs about her adventures in studying the Torah and women's roles. I have gotten lost a few times, because of my limited knowledge of Jewish tradition.

I recognized all the great devotional books you listed but I haven't read any of the fiction ones. But I may try them.

I really enjoy reading autobiographical/biographical type of books...Once I discovered the biography section of the school library in 4th or 5th grade, I spent almost all my time there. Of course I had to be happy with Florence Nightengale, Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin, etc. I remember reading Corrie Ten Boom when I wasn't much more than a teen I find the story of someone's life and how Christ has impacted them, how they have struggled to overcome obstacles, and the exploration of their sinfulness and holiness, to provide insight into my own life and it's often mundane struggles. Last year I enjoyed reading "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire"by Jim Cymbala.

And speaking of "cotton candy", The Hallelujah Diet is one of my frequently consulted books...not a theological heavy weight, but I really enjoy the recipes.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Nightmare, I'm not familiar with that author. What kind of stuff does he write?

Ruth, stop apologizing, fer cryin' out loud. ;-)

C.O. I am totally with you about the biographical stuff. I am greatly blessed by reading of people who have made a difference in the world.

My all time favorite biographical book that combines a wonderful missionary story with interesting cross cultural insight, adventure, miracles, and down-to-earth frankness and grittyness is


(Formally titled "For This Cross I'll Kill You.")

An absolute must read for you, it sounds like. You would like it too, Ruth. Kris, did you read it?

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Here is a link to it on Amazon.

And I see he has written a subsequent book, "Bruchko and the Motilone Miracle" which brings the reader to the present day. I will be ordering it asap.

I warn you, don't start reading this story (of a nineteen year old who headed for the jungle with NO backing from a missionary agency) at bedtime. You may be up all night. I discovered it by accident. Absolutely one of the most inspirational and encouraging books ever. NOT pablum, but not difficult reading.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Oh, just recalled, Robert B. Parker is the detective novelist, right? Haven't read him, but might now. Used to love Hercule Peroit novels (but NOT Miss Marple ones) and Nero Wolf too, back in the day. ;-) Gee, I'm old.

Anonymous said...

yeah, he writes the detective novels mostly. The Spenser novels are my favorites, but the Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone novels are pretty good reads too. A few historical fiction books as well, his characters like baseball, beer, smart alec remarks, food, and women. Never wanted to be a fictional character more than when I read his books. ;)


Anonymous said...

Now I have a few books to add to my list! I haven't read a lot of good "Christian" fiction, except a few by Madeleine L'Engle. For nonfiction, Ron Sider's "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" is one that stands out.

Since someone else mentioned the theme of light and darkness, I'll have to admit that I recently finished reading the whole Harry Potter series, and thought it was handled superbly. Not really Christian fiction, though :)

Diane M. Roth said...

I really like Katherine Paterson's juvenile fiction. she's an author who's a christian, but doesn't write "Christian" fiction, with the exception of her short story collections, A Midnight Clear, and Angels and Other Strangers, which were written for her husband (a Presbyterian minister) to read on Christmas eve for his midnight service. I particularly recommend: Jacob Have I Loved, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Park's Quest.
You have got me thinking.