Okay, I know what you are thinking. Out of all the fantastic works of Christian fiction out there how can anyone choose only three novels?
Really, you can’t choose just three and satisfy everyone. If you ask ten people to list three of their favorite Christian novels, you will get a list of thirty books. And of course, each person will have excellent reasons for their choices. So, if your favorites did not make my top three, think of this list as a great way to line up some good reading.
Almost every genre of fiction has a good selection of Christian books, and there are many great authors to choose from.
If you like romance, you can read Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series. This series of stories set in the old west follows the lives and adventures of a Christian family and their descendants. For stories set in more recent times, read the immense library of books written by Grace Livingston Hill, who was an innovator in the genre of Christian romance.
If you are fond of fantasy stories you don’t have to look far. C.S. Lewis wrote the Narnia series which is hugely popular and has overt Christian themes woven throughout. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien are not obviously Christian, but they hint at biblical themes and can inspire thought-provoking discussion.
If you like suspense, you can delve into the Left Behind series written by Tim LeHaye, with its exciting end-of–the-world tale based on interpretations of the book of Revelation. If you love science fiction stories, look no further than C.S. Lewis, and his Space Trilogy.
Mystery fans can enjoy G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown Mysteries. And these are only a handful of the many great books out there. Whatever your favorite genre, there are quality Christian choices.
Truly, Christian fiction has much to offer. But there are a few classics that I believe any Christian would do well to add to their reading list. These books have a strong Christian message, with an enduring appeal that has stood the test of time. I have these books in my library and recommend them as good literature and faith-building food for thought.
1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Published in 1678, (no, that isn’t a typo) this book has never since been out of print. You know that when a book has lasted as long as this one has it is worth reading.
This book has been translated into over 200 different languages, and if you find the original English version a bit hard to read, there are modern versions where the language has been updated to make it more readable. In fact there are even graphic novel versions of the book.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is a tale about the spiritual journey of a man named Christian as he flees his home, The City of Destruction. He must struggle through many dangers, trials and difficulties as he makes his way to the Celestial City.
I suggest taking your time reading this book. Each struggle that Christian faces is an allegory of the same struggles we all face in our daily walk; thoughtful prayer and reading related passages of the Bible can really bring this story to life.
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Although this book is not one of Lewis’s most well-known or popular works, it has sound teaching and ideas that a believer can use to strengthen their faith, while being entertained by a good piece of fiction.
Published in 1942, the book is written as a series of letters between senior demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, a novice ‘tempter’. The story follows the attempts of these two demons to prevent a man (known only as The Patient) from choosing a life of faith, and then when that fails, to destroy his budding belief.
The story paints a vivid picture of how the demons scheme and plot to derail a faith-filled life, and is masterfully written as advice for what Christians ought not to do, and it is still applicable today.
Wormwood is warned by his uncle that he must not kill the Patient or they will lose the chance to turn him away from faith, making it an incredible encouragement for any Christian facing death; in the eyes of a demon, the worst thing that a man can do is die as a Son of God.
C.S. Lewis himself confessed that, as a series of letter, this book was the most difficult of his works to write, so if you find this format a little too cumbersome to read or you want to share the story with children, there is a comic book version available.
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This charming and easy to read novel has touched the hearts of millions throughout the world. Its enduring story of redemption speaks to Christians and non-believers alike.
Dicken’s tale of the selfish and greedy Scrooge and his eventual restoration has been made into numerous movies, animated features, graphic novels and comic books.
The theme of a very wicked person coming to repent of his wrongs is one that appeals to people of all ages and walks of life.
The Christian message in this story is presented so artfully that few find it objectionable. It is a perfect fireside book to read to children in the lead-up to Christmas.
It makes everyone pause to consider their motives, and search themselves for hidden greed and selfishness.
These three books are entertaining, well written, and have stood the test of time. They are classics that have a treasured place in my library and I hope you’ll consider giving them a try. You won’t regret that you did.