Monday, 26 September 2016

30 novels Christians should read for a faith check before they turn 30

  • Voltaire, Candide (1759)
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871)
  • Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  • Franz Kafka, The Castle (1926)
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
  • Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus (1947)
  • Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)
  • Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)
  • Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (1952)
  • Peter de Vries, The Blood of the Lamb (1961)
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963)
  • William Golding, The Spire (1964)
  • Sushaku Endo, Silence (1966)
  • Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (1980)
  • Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984)
  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • José Saramago, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991)
  • Terry Pratchett, Small Gods (1992)
  • James K. Morrow, Towing Jehovah (1994)
  • Maria Doria Russel, The Sparrow (1996)
  • Jim Crace, Quarantine (1997)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
  • J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)
  • Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials (2000)
  • Ian McEwan, Saturday (2005)
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)
  • Colm Tóibín, The Testament of Mary (2012)


Mike Crowl said...

Certainly some interestingly imaginative stuff here, and some strongly anti-Christian (His Dark Materials, for instance, which I found exceedingly depressing in the end). Moby Dick I've given up on twice.
I'm not quite sure what Fabricius means here when he talks about this as a faith check. Any comments?

Doug said...

Not sure of the criteria but here is some more mainly novels that I like and that have reshaped my faith imagination- Wendell Berry' magnum opus Jayber Crow, Sushaku Endo, Deep River, Tim Winton Cloudstreet, David James Duncan - The Brothers K

Kim Fabricius said...

Thanks, Mike. Yeah, I struggled with a snappy way of putting what I'm after with this list. "Reality check" was a possibility, except that it begs the question of what -- or rather who -- defines "reality". So to answer your question ...

Here are novels that challenge any faith that is at ease in a world of suffering and death or in the city of Babylon. The questions they put, the issues they raise -- especially, yes, the quite anti-Christian ones -- they need to be met and negotiated before I can say, with maturity, "I believe." Indeed I think they should continue to exercise us in via as permanent haunting background noise.

Brian Kelly said...

I got 9/30 - and some of these I read long after 30. I confess I've never heard of most of the new ones. I don't think I need to "negotiate" with any novel before I say "I believe" with maturity. The word of Christ is enough for me. That and some of the truly *great novels you don't mention: Don Quixote, The Brothers Karamazov - books filled with faith and love in a world full of suffering and death - and redemption.

Kim Fabricius said...

The wonderful novels that Doug and Brian mention -- every Christian should read them, absolutely -- but they don't get on my list precisely because, as Brian says, they are "filled with love and faith". I want Christians to read outstanding novels that disturb the peace of Zion, Christians for whom "The word of Christ is enough" to spend some time in the wilderness jousting with the devil to test and toughen their faith. All in aid of a church where hard questions can be asked -- and not always answered.

Mike Crowl said...

Thanks, Kim, for your comment. 'Negotiated' is a good word to think about in regard to the books. Will chew that over.
I read Brothers Karamazov again this year; first time I read it was probably fifty years ago, so I didn't remember much. But the Father Zossima section impacted me far more this time round than when I was a young man, I think.

Kim Fabricius said...

But the Father Zossima section impacted me far more this time round than when I was a young man, I think.

Me too, Mike. The Ivan sections were the ones which impacted me when I was a youngster -- like a meteorite, leaving a huge crater. The crater is still there, but Father Zozzima is with me when I re-visit it.

Wes Smith said...

The Brothers Karamazov (already dealt with above) and East of Eden were hugely impactful for me in my early 20's, especially the latter novel. I read it while in seminary - it gave me a very deep appreciation for my friends and for my home.

I also agree about Wendell Berry...

Mike Morris said...

Read 16 of these but nothing challenges faith in a loving God as does ineluctuble reality. No novel can truly convey the real degradation of some lives. I lost my faith several years ago, and much as I would like to believe again, I just can't get over the massive amount of suffering in the world and its apparent senselessness.

Anonymous said...

An absolutely awesome list. I think I would have included Ulysses by James Joyce just for molly bloom's soliloquy. Love things like that!

- The Smiling Pilgrim

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