A Few Good Books

I read a lot of books—probably about one a week. I usually have several going at the same time. It’s a good thing public libraries don’t charge!

I’ll pick out a nonfiction book on a subject I’m interested in at the moment and at least one book about God and faith and the church. (Our library has a remarkably good selection for a secular institution.) And then I like to have something just for fun—usually an adventure or science fiction story, the more exciting, the better.

Picking out the nonfiction books is relatively easy. If I want a book on birding, I simply head to the shelves numbered 598.07234 and start browsing. My friends and pastors often recommend books about our faith, soI have an endless list of ones I want to read. But the fiction poses a real challenge.

I love fun stories. Exciting stories. Real page-turners. And while I don’t just read Christian authors, I do have some standards. I don’t want lots of sex and swearing. I get disgusted when the author seems to be celebrating a sinful lifestyle.

At the same time, I want quality books. I appreciate creative plots, realistic characters, and well-crafted phrases. Reading skillfully written books helps me with my own writing.

Just as TV shows and movies have changed over the last 50 years, so have books. In many ways, it seems our standards are sinking into the gutter. I spend a lot of time digging through what turns out to be soft porn or worse, looking for something worth reading.

Unfortunately, the library doesn’t shelve fiction according to how good the books are. You have to go along, pulling out titles that pique your interest in order to read the cover blurbs, then take a chance on something that looks promising. Therefore, I thought I’d share some books and/or authors that I have enjoyed, and I hope you’ll do the same.

A few years ago, I started reading some classics. Not being an English major, I missed reading most of these in school, but I figured that if they were still popular after so many years, they must be good. To Kill a Mockingbird, Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, Pride & Prejudice … why did I wait so long?

As mentioned, I really love exciting stories. My most recent read was Clive Cussler’s newest book, Devil’s Gate, written with Graham Brown. Our daughter gave it to Pete for Christmas. He read it in two sittings. Then it was my turn and I read it in the car with a flashlight while we were on our road trip. I just couldn’t put it down! My dad is reading it now. I hope they make it into a movie—it would be a terrific action thriller!

I’ve been reading science fiction ever since I discovered The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree and Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars in elementary school. Some favorites include Ender’s Game and its sequels, by Orson Scott Card, Ringworld, by Larry Niven, and anything by Douglas Adams.

Finally, in an effort to broaden my horizons a bit, I started reading books on other topics. Nectar in a Sieve, by Kamala Markandaya opened my eyes to true poverty.  I was charmed by The Bean Trees and challenged by The Poisonwood Bible, both by Barbara Kingsolver. And Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency had me in a great mood all day.

There are so many more books I can recommend, but I want to hear from you. What are your favorite fiction reads?

3 thoughts on “A Few Good Books

  1. Great post. You gave me some good suggestions to check out. Recently I have been reading or re-reading some classic Sci Fi. Isaac Asimov: Robot novels, Foundation trilogy and the second trilogy written about 30 years later. In the second trilogy he ties the original trilogy in with the robot novels. He is the father of modern science fiction and coined the word “robotics.” His earlier works, written in the 1950’s, are remarkably insightful considering the state of technology at that time. Also the original Sherlock Holmes stories are great! I was able to get most of these as ebooks from the library.

  2. Thanks, Ken! I loved all the Foundation books, and have read some of them more than once. My only complaint about Asimov is his in-your-face atheism. And I’ll also second your Sherlock recommendation. Very fun!

  3. It can be challenging to find good yet “clean” stories. My mom uses an audio book reader due to her low vision. The online catalog is pretty good about listing which books contain the rougher stuff. Still trying to determine the line between what is “some strong language” and “strong language.”

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