September 27, 2010


Posted in Watermarks in Progress at 11:44 pm by Tamara

Help!  I need book recommendations.  Well, to be specific, I’m looking for fiction recommendations, and to be even more specific,  Christian fiction recommendations.  Some people push themselves to run (a strange phenomenon I will never understand); I push myself to read.  This year I feel like too many of the books I’ve read have been disappointing or downright irritating.  I’d really like to find a really well written, faith-strengthening Christian novel.  I’ve read a few of them, so I know it can happen, but a few years ago I got so sick of the FLUFF that I stopped trying new Christian authors all together.  But our God is so creative—how could He not want to help us write really good stories that will draw us to Him??  I know they must be out there, if I could just find them.

A few things I’m NOT looking for:

1)      A plot-less romance novel with Christian morals slapped on.  (Rolled eyes)

2)      Another book about a sickeningly perfect girl and the three men in love with her.  (Gag)

3)      Beat-you-over-the-head-preaching delivered in long chunks of plot-less dialogue.  (Sigh)

I’m open for non-Christian recommendations, too, but I’m especially determined to find some good Christian fiction authors.  I’ll take non-fiction recommendations, but I have a lot of those on my list already.  It’s the fiction that’s hard to find.

But, I figured, if I’m asking for recommendations, I should offer a few myself!  So, in no particular order, here’s some books I’ve enjoyed lately, both Christian and non-Christian.  (And sorry about the formatting–the blog is not cooperating with underlining or numbered lists.)

1)      Arena, by Karen Hancock

  1. I know, I know, it’s science fiction.  Read it anyway.  Hancock uses the imaginary world and a fascinating storyline to brilliantly portray truth.  It really made me think about faith and the unseen impact of what I choose to believe.

2)      Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers

  1. This was probably the first novel that really challenged my walk with God.  It’s about a Jewish girl who’s captured during the fall of Jerusalem and taken to be a slave in a Roman household.  Vivid characters, great plot, and wrestling with real faith issues.

3)      The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

  1. This is technically a kid’s book, but I loved it.  Four kids with various abilities (one’s like MacGyver, one’s really smart, one’s really stubborn, one’s a good leader) have to save the world (of course!)  The characters are just endearing, and I loved the way Stewart worked their various abilities into the plot.

4)      The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

  1. If you haven’t read them…good grief, what are you waiting for?!?!

5)      The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  1. Not a Christian book, and it shows in some places, but still well worth the read.  It’s about a group of friends who live on Guernsey Island when the Nazis occupy it during WWII.  They get caught outside after curfew and make up a literary society meeting as an excuse.  Of course, then they have to start a book club to keep the ruse going.

6)      To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

  1. Another all-time favorite book.  See comment under #4

7)      All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot

  1. If you even remotely enjoy animals, this series about an English country vet will have you laughing out loud (and maybe tearing up sometimes, too).  They are some of the sweetest, funniest books I’ve ever read

8)      Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

  1. A sharp-witted runaway slave girl is forced to play a double spy in Ancient Egypt.  I never get tired of re-reading this one

9)      Bleak House, by Charles Dickens

  1. Okay, you have to have some commitment to get through Dickens, but it’s worth it in this case.  I love the complex plot and the way he weaves all the seemingly unrelated storylines together in the end

10)  Persuasion, by Jane Austen

  1. I think this is Austen’s most mature and thoughtful novel.  It’s tied with Sense and Sensibility for my favorite


  1. Mary Hamill said,

    Tamara, there is a trilogy by Ted Dekker that I really enjoyed. (A bonus, because if you like the first book, there are two more to follow!) The names of the books are colors – I think something like Black, Red, and White – but I’m not sure of the names or the order. I recall it being a wonderful allegory of the Christian life – rather similar, in some ways, to Arena!

  2. Amie said,

    My husband loves Mike Dellosso…he’s a suspense fiction Christian author. His books are: Scream, The Hunted and Darlington Woods. Here’s his website…

  3. Donna said,

    I recently discovered an author: Allison Pittman. I’ve read two of her “Crossroads of Grace” series. I think you’ll like them. I liked the second book a little better than the first.

  4. Becky said,

    I LOVE Ted Dekker’s books – any book he has written. They are intriguing, mind-bending, action packed, suspenseful, spine-chilling…need I say more? I’ve read House / Skin / Kiss / the circle series Red-Black-White-Green (not sure about the order) and more. I have never been disappointed, except when I try to find more of his works and can’t.

    I would suggest not starting the circle series when you are busy with school work. I would hate to be the indirect cause of you failing a class! If you like his works as much as I do, you won’t be able to put them down!

    Enjoy! (let me know if you do or don’t)

  5. Jocelyn said,

    Haha! I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society! Such a fun read…. I think my all-time favorite (in the Christian novel category) is Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. He’s written some other novels as well (Deadline, Dominion, Deception) which are all quite good, but Safely Home is my favorite.

  6. Tamara said,

    I think I had a bad experience with Ted Dekker. I took “Black” (the first in the circle series) to Afghanistan with me, and I was NOT in the right mood to read it. Being mildly afraid for my life every day made me want to come home and read Cinderella (like, the Little Golden Book version!), not a suspenseful science fiction. I haven’t finished it, but maybe I would like it now. I thought it was a little bizarre, but “Arena” is a little bizarre and I liked it, so maybe it was just the wrong time in my life. I did read Blink (with the Muslim woman), and thought it was okay, maybe a little shallow, but I’ve heard that’s not his best. Maybe I should pick up Black again…I’m already 3/4 of the way through, anyway. :)

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