Busted

A little bird told me that he didn’t notice any Christian books on my list so far this year (okay, so that not so little bird is my husband).  Now that my reading is out there for the world to see, I suppose I have a sort of built in accountability thing going, to make sure I’m reading edifying materials (here’s the link, for all you who are too lazy to visit my right hand margin).

Sure, I’m reading my Bible each day, which isn’t exactly represented on that list. I think you’d all call me a flat out liar if I posted the entire Bible on there next week, and while each “book” of the bible is technically named a “book,” I don’t think I’ll list those separately either (Can you sense the sour grapes here?).

So, I’m going to look through my Christian classics, my nonfiction growth an maturity books, and even some light weight Christian fiction (which typically sends me running for the hills).

Thanks honey. I was having fun reading any old thing, but your little voice of reason convicted me.

Don’t worry folks, my popular fiction isn’t going anywhere.

Any suggestions for edifying books that I need to consider next? Maybe I need to cleanse my palette with some C.S. Lewis? Please don’t say Piper. I’m on a Piper fast right now (too much last year).

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. LOL to your Piper fast.

    I read C.S. Lewis’ Miracles this year, which I didn’t love. I’m going to start his Til We Have Faces this weekend (hopefully).

    I’m reading Why We Are Not Emergent. You might enjoy that. So far it has been a quicker read, but with helpful insights and descriptions of the Emergent Church. Given the demographics of your area, it might be good for you to be aware of the ec in more detail.

    If you decide to come off your Piper fast, I am LOVING Future Grace. I’m taking it VERY slow. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

    AL: Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check out the Emergent one. Certainly a topic we’re familiar with at my church. Yes, I do believe there is such a thing as too much Piper…

  2. Why can’t fiction be edifying? I was totally convicted on spiritual things while reading The Poisonwood Bible (which I shared at book club) – even more so than when I read certain Christian books on anger. I think it’s because I saw Nathan’s controling nature played out to its logical conclusion, which horrified me.

    I definitely see the value in some Christian non-fiction when when dealing with specific issues (anger, grief, character of God, etc), but in general all great art is edifying to and points to God, don’t you think?

    AL: Certainly. But this is a HUGE topic of debate among believers, is it not? For myself (and my husband knows this about me), I’m less inclined to probe the depths of my soul with non-christian books. However, I wasn’t making the distinction here between fiction/nonfiction. I think that Christian fiction can be just about as convicting as non-fiction, so there’s a controversial claim for you. The problem is, the Christian fiction that’s being put out there these days isn’t capable of doing too much other than making me gag. When I say I need to read more Christian books, I mean fiction as well. I’m just reading all secular stuff, and I need to not only support the Christian book industry but stay relevant in the conversations that are going on between believers. Plus, I find that the questions raised in those books are very different than the ones raised in secular ones. Sure, I can be convicted by secular books, no doubt, but often it’s in different ways and it’s easier for me to just go along for the ride. Feel free to hop on in on this folks.

    Should I balance all my fiction with nonfiction? Should I be reading Christian fiction in addition to non Christian fiction, old and new? Is nonfiction more edifying than fiction?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. My $0.02-answer to the questions you ask in response to jen zug: 1) Maybe. 2) Yes, I think so. 3) Not necessarily. 🙂

    Depending on the fiction you’re reading (generic “you”, not specifically you, Amy), some non-fiction can add depth to your perspective or build on themes touched on in the fiction. I can’t think of a good example, but a person who reads a lot of historical novels might do well to read some non-fiction historical accounts of the same time period to get a broader picture of the time/place/events.

    There’s not a lot of good Christian fiction “out there,” sadly, but I think it’s worth reading some to stay in touch with market trends, see a possible niche for one’s own writing, support the Christian publishing industry, etc. (all things you mention above, I think).

    While much non-fiction can be edifying, a book such as Blood and Soil (sorry, forgot the subtitle and author), which looks at genocide throughout history, strikes me as being very discouraging because there’s so little redemption. (Caveat – I have only read excerpts, not the whole book, but have read reviews and discussion of it.) Fiction that explores themes of redemption, for example, could be a much more edifying read than that one.

    AL: Thanks for your $0.02 Mary! I especially like the point about the nonfiction to compliment the historical fiction. In fact, I just came across a very interesting looking book about 19th century England that I’m going to put on hold right now. It’s called, very appropriately: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.

  4. I’d suggest something from J.C. Ryle. I can’t think of any other Christian writer, past or present, who has had a greater influence on me than Bishop Ryle. Everything he writes is Christ-centered. I read his “Practical Religion” last year (best book I read in ’08) and have “Holiness” on the bookshelf waiting for me as well. His commentaries on the Gospels are also outstanding. I think of him as an old friend now 🙂

    AL: Wow, he sounds like a gem. I tried finding his stuff in our library and came up short, which was disappointing. However did you find him?

  5. George McDonald’s fictions haunt me with spiritual themes, and at the same time have rather shocking scenes that non- Christian literature of the time favored as well. Fisherman’s Lady and Marquise Secret are presonal favorites, as well as the three about the minister…can’t recall the name…need more coffee…

    AL: oooh, I’m so excited that you like Fisherman’s Lady because I recently got a copy of that at a used books sale. I saw McDonald’s name and snatched it up right away because I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Your recommendation on top of that makes it move even higher on the list. I’ll look forward to reading that soon.

  6. I would recommend Tim Keller. My husband just finished “Prodigal God” and thought it was amazing. I would guess that you’ve probably already read “Vintage Jesus” (is it out yet?). If you have, did you like it?

    AL: Keller is a great idea. I’ve loved listening to him speak at the Resurgence events. Good to have a recommendation of a specific book to start with. I’ve skimmed Vintage Jesus and found it to be very much like the sermon series after which it was titled, which was great. I’m privileged to get the material as it freshly comes out, in sermon form. I find that Pastor Mark tends to rehash a lot of his sermon materials in the books, which is fine, so I’m not always in a hurry to read the books since they tend to cover much of the same stuff. It’s better if I let more time pass to refresh my memory at a later time. I’ll probably read it in a couple years in full. =) Pretty basic doctrinal stuff in there, rehashed with contemporary applications. The sermon series is probably still online as well.

  7. Amy,

    I don’t think any of the Connecticut libraries have any J.C. Ryle either. Try this link to get a sampling of his writings:

    http://gracegems.org/23/ryle_sermons.htm

    I think you can find his books used for fairly cheap on Amazon, although you should make sure they’re the Banner of Truth edition(s). I’ve found that some other editions modernize his language too much, and he’s easy enough to read I think anyway.

    AL: wow, thanks Joe!

  8. Two quick reads from C. S. Lewis I recommend- The Great Divorce, and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (assuming you’ve already read Mere Christianity). Another personal favorite that could be read more like a devotional- A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, by Eugene P. I like the titles of his books. That one is based on the Psalms of Ascent.

    AL: I love the Great Divorce, and I haven’t read it in years. So it’s a good time to open that one up again. Believe it or not, haven’t read Letters to Malcolm yet, and I’m going to have to dig around my bookshelf to see if I even have a copy of it. I’m working on getting a full collection of Lewis works, since it seems like a nice resource to have. I’ve seen that Peterson title, and It’s certainly caught my eye. I’ll keep that one in mind. Thanks for the recommendations!

  9. Oh, and if you need a Christian fiction that will make you laugh yourself silly, check out the Home to Harmomy series by Quaker minister Philip Gulley. I found the whole series at the public library.
    I don’t always agree with the political slants of some of his later titles, but for the most part his books make me alternatively laugh until I cry, or cry until I need a tissue because of his tender takes on life.

    His second book’s story about feeding scriptures typed on small pieces of paper to chickens so they will lay eggs with convicting verses inside had me rolling on the floor. Talk about an innovative way to witness! Hee hee hee….

    AL: I’ve seen those books and wondered if they were any good. I always love getting recommendations about books that tempted me, but I needed that extra little incentive to go for it! Something funny is always a plus. Lately, I’ve been reading the most depressing stuff!

  10. Amy,
    I have just recently found your blog and LOVE it! I have lived in WA and wouldn’t mind calling it home again! To get to the subject, two recommendations. Christian non-fiction – Jan Meyers’ “Listening to Love” and “The Allure of Hope” have really touched me this past year. Couldn’t read straight through them as I had to take breaks and really think about what she was saying and reread some passages to make sure I understood it. As for Christian fiction, I kind of have the same aversion you do, but have found a writer that I have enjoyed recently; Charles Martin. He is a southern writer so that is the setting for his books, but they are contemporary stories with sweet messages of hope and redemption. I have read “When Crickets Cry” and “Chasing Fireflies” and have three more waiting patiently to be read. Hope you enjoy!

    AL: Thanks Sherry! I’m so glad you took the time to say hello. Love those books that make you ponder and re-read. Will take note of these recommendations, as I haven’t read any of them yet!

  11. I’ve read (and own) What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.
    Good stuff! Fun to read, in my opinion. I like tidbits of information.


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