ADVENTURES IN READING

April 30, 2014

Happy most blessed Spring to you! We’ve enjoyed some glorious days of brilliantly blue skies and temps in the 70s here in Kentucky lately. The blooming dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs and tulips seem a tad more vibrant this year after the harsh winter we’ve survived. That’s one reason I enjoy living in a part of the country with four distinct seasons. Without the cold and dreary days of winter I don’t believe spring would fill my soul with as much celebratory joy. WOOHOO! All that new greenery popping out hurts my eyes this time of year.

In this spirit of celebration, I feel a need to take a side trail off the usual path of doodleicity this month. We’ve traveled this path before, but this time we’re entering into a bit of overgrowth that some may choose to tread wearing superdeedooper hiking books and possibly a machete. We are wandering into the FICTION BOOKS JUNGLE. More specifically, the Desperately Doodling Debbie Top 21 Fiction Books Footpath. Be forewarned–not everyone should join this trek. It’s full of slippery rocks, fallen trees, dark caves and a few snarling beasts. This trail also traverses many mental miles, so you’d best bring a drink and a snack to get you through.

Over our family Easter weekend the subject of books came up and my son-in-law asked me what my top ten favorite books were. As I started listing some off the top of my head, the two daughters that were home joined in, and before long our Saturday night activity became listing our favorite books and sharing them with each other. The rules were to make a list of the top however many favorite books of any kind, so I came up with 21 novels in honor of my youngest who turned 21 on Easter Day. I deliberately placed just one book/series per author on my list, even though I could have listed several for a few of my favorite writers. This geeky activity made for some great fun for our whole geeky family! I plan to make separate lists of favorite non-fiction and children’s books at some point because thinking about my favorite books takes me to a happy place in my head.

I realize some Christians are hesitant to read secular books, especially fiction, because they feel it’s a waste of time or it’s dishonoring to God. This is not how I feel. I’ve never read a book yet that didn’t cause me to think of God, either because of obviously godly themes or characters, or because of just the opposite. And I personally feel that any book that makes me ponder life and my place in it, or teaches me more about my fellow man, or simply entertains with a good story, is a worthy read. There must be a reason the Lord made me this way, so I’m going with it.

I’ve talked before about using The Novel 100 book by Daniel S. Burt to guide my reading in this realm. To date I’ve completed (or partially completed the few which were several thousand pages long) 60 of the 100 books on this “greats” list, and several of the books on my current favorites list I probably never would have read without The Novel 100. I’ve read plenty of books on and off that list I didn’t enjoy, but that I respect as great literature.

The novels on my favorites list, however, are all there because they have impacted my life in some way. Some books have moved me deeply more because of the writing than the story itself. Some I love for sentimental reasons. All of them were great reads for me. The first ten are in approximate rank order, but the others I’m not so sure about. I know I’ve left out many books that on another day would have come to mind first, but I can always add them in later! As you peruse my favorites here, I hope you might find a book or two that you would like to try, and perhaps discover a new favorite author or genre you never imagined you would enjoy.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes says:

11) The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12) But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. 13) The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14) For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (NASV).

I can so relate to the wearying of the body due to excessive devotion to books. But for me that’s the most satisfying weariness, especially when some wise person has goaded me in some way by his/her writing. And when it comes right down to it, as far as I’m concerned, the Lord Himself does the goading, whether through Holy Scripture or through works of literature. With at least 40 more “greats” to read, plus unlimited others, I hope to discover several more to add to my list of personal faves!

Happy reading!