Top 10 Fiction Books…Only There Are Actually 11

It’s so hard to make a list of favorite books. It’s like talking about favorite foods. How can you narrow it down? Yet here is my attempt. Because the written word has always played such an important part in my life, I’d like to share with you some of the works that have most profoundly impacted me; or in some cases, simply the ones I’ve enjoyed the most.

So today’s Recommended Reading list is my Top 10 Fiction Books…except, as you observed in the subject heading, there are actually 11. When you’re the one with the keyboard, you get to do stuff like that. Okay, here it is:

# 10: Heaven’s Wager by Ted Dekker. This book is part of his series called The Martyr’s Song. Dekker is an intense writer who really pushes the envelope. In his stories, things happen that just aren’t supposed to happen, like when you get a new dog and it’s killed by a car the day after you bring it home. Definitely not for the faint of heart. But God’s glory and mercy shine through powerfully. Dekker is one of today’s master parable tellers.

The other #10: Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. The guy who brought us Holes has a short series of books about Wayside School, a Twilight Zone-ish school where things happen that don’t make sense–but that’s okay, because they happen anyway. Great works of postmodern literature! This book especially satiates some innate need of mine to occasionally stretch beyond the rational world with its demands on always making sense. It’s supposed to be a book for kids, but honestly, who does that exclude?

#9: The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Possibly Shakespeare’s last play, this comedy parodies the powerful role of the artist. It’s bizarre. Uncanny. Delightful. Also a quick read.

#8: Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell. This monster-sized historical-novel biography of Luke–the biblical writer of Luke & Acts–is fascinating. It’s an imaginary (though historically based) look at the world that Luke lived in. We learn about life in the Roman Empire for various classes of people. Recommended for serious readers only, due to its size and heaviness. Wonderful storytelling makes it easy to excuse the strange portrayals of the apostles James & John and the strong Catholic overtones, all of which don’t occur until the end of the book anyway.

#7: This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti. One of the master writers of Christian fiction, Peretti gives us this classic which has forever shaped my thinking about spiritual warfare. Highly creative, great plot–it will change the way you view your own spiritual reality.

#6: Junie B. Jones Has A Peep In Her Pocket by Barbara Park. Yeah, I know the Junie B. Jones series was written for little kids. But I could easily have put the whole series on this list. So back up off me yo. If you’ve read it, I know you like it too. It’s a hilarious and realistic glimpse into the mind of a unique, personality-filled kindergartener. Guaranteed to remind you of the little ones that you have known and loved…and been stressed out by. This particular book is one of the funniest of them all.

#5: A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck. Peck has written several great books with the characters from this story. When some city kids go to visit their rural grandma in the earlier part of the 20th century, their experiences deepen their understanding of their heritage and, consequently, of their own personhood. Funny, moving, thought-provoking. Anybody would like this one.

#4: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Sheer genius. In this classic, Lewis takes us behind the scenes into the unseen world of demonic bureaucracy. Chilling in its accuracy and prophetic in its spiritual insight, this short book makes a great companion to Peretti’s This Present Darkness.

#3: Thr3e by Ted Dekker. Naturally, Thr3e had to be #3. Don’t worry, the book is infinitely better than the movie (which I liked, though I seem to be the only one who did). John Grisham meets Tom Clancy meets Stephen King. That’s why none of those guys made the final cut for this list–who needs them when we have Ted Dekker and a thriller like Thr3e? Easily one of the very best works of fiction I’ve ever read. The only reason it didn’t rank higher is because the next two selections dramatically altered my entire life.

#2: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Yeah, I know these are actually seven books, but I wanted to include them all. Reading these classics as a kid, they awakened both my imagination and my spiritual consciousness. They taught me how to think, how to dream, how to believe. I simply can’t say enough about them. When I read the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the experience could not have been more magical for me even if I had been a character in the story.

#1: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This book is one of the reasons I’m a Christ follower today. Someone gave me a copy (written in today’s English) when I was a kid, and I’ve never been the same. It was my first look at a Kingdom with a different value system. Reading this classic as a child gave me my first taste of Jesus. No other book, fiction or non-fiction (except for the Bible, obviously) has ever impacted me as profoundly as The Pilgrim’s Progress. In fact, very little anything has impacted me as deeply as this masterpiece.

If any of you have read any of these works or have just been influenced to do so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them!

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Published in: on February 16, 2007 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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