for the love of a good book

The year before Hattie was born, Rory and I took a monthly trip to attend a Christian Writer's Association meeting. It was always interesting and super informative and I left inspired each time. We would drop our kids off at Mimi and Papa's and make the trek, 3 hours in the car for the 2 hour meeting with a stop at Jimmy John's on the way.

While at one of these meetings we purchased a book by the speaker that night and it sat on my shelf until this winter when I finally cracked it. And then I couldn't put it down and finished the whole thing by the next night.

It was a Christian Novel, and admittedly, I had judged a whole lot of books by their cover (seems to be a lot of Amish love stories out there...) and disregarded the whole genre. But I have been sucked in every since. And can I tell you what the Christian Novel is all about?!! It's basically book form of a Hallmark movie where you know the ending will be good, you'll feel resolution and the story line is strangely enjoyable all the while.

It's like mindless television, but good. The content is good and wholesome. And each story is full of redemption. My mother-in-law gave me one at Christmas that I absolutely adored about Robert E. Lee's wife and her favorite slave. It was fascinating, and because it was historical fiction, led me to all sorts of other readings on the Lee family and Arlington.

Anyway, this is my plea for you to give the Christian Novel a try. Or, if you already are reading in this world, let me know which authors and books your recommend!

Here's the bottom line: if you watch a movie or a tv show made in 2017 you are definitely not guaranteed a happy ending. Hollywood loves hopelessness. They love to have us "sit in it" and feel that deep despair without any glimmer that things might get better. I can think of a number of recent movies that just leave you depressed.

And that is fine for the world. Because the world is rather hopeless. But as Christians we have hope eternal. We know the ending of this story we are living and we know the victory is ours through Jesus. That's not cliche because there is a dueling reality that I believe is more true than the sorrow and despair that we see all around. This world is not our home. The story is still playing out, and God's hope is that the ending for each one of us is a happy one. He wants full restoration with us. He wants our broken stories redeemed through his son.

So when I read these Christian Novels they all have the same ring of truth and the same ring of hope that I know to be true. And it's such a better use of my time and life to dwell on things hopeful, than to let the screen shape my worldview and fill it with unending pain and despair. Bleh. We have that all around us in real form. But the Bible writes of a hope greater and that's the story I want to fill my days.

Here's a couple favorite novels (all very different from each other) to pass along:

Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray: a Novel. By Dorothy Love. Charlotte Mason is the education model I appreciate the most and one of her biggest points is to let good stories teach your children, not text books. I learned more about the civil war, slavery, and that whole time period from this story (and then later research because I was interested...) Let me know if you have any other favorite historical fiction books you'd recommend. I'm so interested.

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (written in 1979, before I was born and a favorite by many I am told. I read this first book in the series the last two nights. I loved it and cannot wait for the next books to arrive at the library for me!)

North Star Brides by Erica Vetch (this was the one that started my christian fiction spurt. Erica is a Minnesota author and was the speaker at the meeting that night. The book is set in Duluth and since I adore the North Shore, it was an easy sell. I loved this book (3 great love stories) and bashfully gave it to my sister telling her not to judge me. But then she loved it too!)

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell (still a favorite that I wish everyone would read. The author is retelling the story of her missionary grandparents in China. It's historical fiction, but based on their actual life happenings. I still reread the last few chapters every now and again.)


Teacher/Mom said...

Thanks for make me, who was born in 1071, feel old. ;-) I agree with you! My favorite genre of all time is Christian Historical Novels. Seeing how God has worked through the ages, even though it may be fiction, is calming when I look at the chaos of our world today.

Nancy Holte said...

If you haven't read "The Hiding Place" yet, you absolutely must! It's an historical fiction story about a family in Holland who hid Jews in their home to protect them during the war. They were caught and sent to a prison camp. Incredible story of faith and endurance. I love Christian fiction. Colleen Coble, Dee Henderson, and Susan May Warren are some of my favorite authors but if you want to see my favorite books (not all Christian) check out my Pinterest page titled Books I'd Recommend.

Kristen said...

So, I've been working on writing novels that would fall into this "Christian Fiction" category. Every time I'm talking to someone and they ask what kind of writing I want to do, I cringe a little when I say "Christian Fiction" because I feel like a lot of people look down on the genre. This post was such an encouragement to me, a reminder of why I like to do this sort of writing. Thanks for that!!