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Summer is here, and that means it’s time to scramble for a good beach read. Or at least a good “sit on the back porch” read. Here is a list of some of my favorite Christian fiction novels perfect for perusing during those extra hours of daylight during the summer, categorized by genre. I’ve also linked a synopsis of the novel on Goodreads, if you are interested in learning more. So, without further adieu...
If you like the classics:
Perfect for lovers of the show Downton Abbey, this novel will satisfy your craving for mystery, romance, suspense, and unbending faith. In a rags-to-riches tale of an orphan girl who learns that faith and integrity are equally important and difficult to hold on to, Charlotte Brontë beautifully expresses the struggle between our earthly desires and our heavenly ones. This is a long read, but worth every moment. You will walk through life with Jane and everyone will find something that they can relate to. This is primarily a coming of age story with a touch of gothic romance (just wait until you find out what’s in the attic). Jane’s struggles and her desire to put her faith above all else make her a heroine worth admiring.
This book is an easy read. Alcott weaves together the story of the four March sisters, how their lives intertwine with each other and those around them, and how their faith holds them together. There are so many lessons about faith and family in this novel, plus it is just a really good story. There is a little something for everyone, and women, especially, can empathize with each of the sisters on some level.
If you are a fan of historical fiction:
I know it’s cheating to group three books into one, but I promise once you are introduced to Hadassah and her story, you will devour all three books with abandon. My love for this series cannot be adequately expressed in words. This is one of those that I can read over and over again. Hadassah is a young, Jewish slave girl captured from Jerusalem by the Romans just a few decades after Christ’s burial and resurrection. She has a genuine servant’s heart and a love for her owners that defies reason. Rivers beautifully intertwines Hadassah’s life into the lives of those around her and shows readers just how much a heart that is loving, humble, and ready to serve can accomplish, even in the life of a slave.
4. A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
This book is a collection of five smaller stories, each about a woman in the lineage of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. It is important to note that these stories are not biblically accurate, but they aren’t meant to be (it’s still fiction). They are just an interesting look at the lives of the only women listed in the lineage of Christ. This is good if you are looking for something a little less time consuming.
If you like suspenseful thrillers:
5. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti
This book takes spiritual warfare and makes it real, complete with angels and demons fighting in battles over our heads. Humans can’t see it, but it’s there all the same. Prayer is an integral part of the process and Frank Peretti paints a vivid picture of the impact that prayer and spiritual warfare could have on the world and its events. If you read it and fall in love (which I expect you will), there is a sequel called Piercing the Darkness.
6. The Oath by Frank Peretti
Anything by Peretti is great if you love horror, mystery, psychological thrillers, or suspense. The Oath focuses on a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Its people are mysteriously disappearing, but instead of allowing help to come, the residents close ranks further — sworn to secrecy by something in their past. Something dangerous and sinister is lurking, and the danger only grows as the townspeople go to greater lengths to hide their secrets.
7. The Shack by William P. Young
This book has changed the way I view the trinity. It is a fictional story of a man who loses his daughter in a way that no person should ever have to lose a child. In the depths of his despair he is invited by “Papa” (his wife’s name for God) to come visit a shack in the woods. His experience forever changes his idea of forgiveness and love, and it helps him come to terms with the tragedy that has wrecked his family. I’ve labeled it as “suspense,” but this book is great for everyone, no matter what genre of literature you prefer.
If romance is your thing:
8. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
I almost didn’t add this book to the list because I feel like everyone I know has read it already. If you haven’t, you should. This is a story of love and redemption adapted from the story of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet who God instructed to marry the prostitute, Gomer, in order to illustrate to the Israelites that they were like a prostitute continually straying away from their God. In Francine River’s rendition of the story, Michael Hosea falls in love with a prostitute during the 1850’s gold rush in California. Their romance is full of ups and downs, but if you want something that leaves you with a feeling of hope then this novel is perfect.
If you’re looking to read an entire series:
9. The Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
This is a great interpretation of the events in Revelation and the rapture of the church. LaHaye and Jenkins did a ton of research for these novels and while they are basically guessing at what will happen, they are guessing based on years of biblical research and studies. Plus, the characters and the stories are so interesting, you will get wrapped up and not be able to put these books down. There are 16 books in the series, so this one can keep you occupied all summer.
If you need some action and intensity:
10. Three by Ted Dekker
This is one of those novels that starts with an explosion and never slows down throughout the course of the entire story. Kevin is instructed by the mysterious Slater to confess his sins to the world… or else. I won’t say much more because I don’t want to give anything away, but this is one of those books that you will stay up all night reading because you can’t handle not knowing what happens next. You’ll be on the edge of your seat from the moment you turn the first page.
Bonus! I know I said 10 books, but here’s a little fact about me — I love books. Narrowing down this list to only 10 was like trying to tell a mother to choose her favorite child (okay… maybe it’s not quite that extreme… but you get the idea).
So… If you require a little fantasy or science fiction in your life:
11. The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (Black, Red, White, and Green)
This is a misleading title, because there are actually 4 books in this “trilogy,” not three. The last book, Green, can be read either at the beginning or the end. It’s labeled as book #0 in the series because, like the title, the series itself forms a circle. I read it at the end and I was glad I did, but you can do whatever you want. In one world, Thomas Hunter is a battle-scarred general, in another he is racing to prevent terrorists from creating global chaos. When he falls asleep in one world he wakes in the other. Dekker does a great job keeping up the intensity level throughout his novels. This trilogy explores the idea of alternate dimensions and touches on the symbolism of dying to yourself in order to follow Christ.
Rachel-Claire Cockrell is a wife, a writer, and a high school English teacher. She is passionate about her students and does her best to exemplify the love of Christ to those kids who may not experience it anywhere else. She and her husband live in Arkansas. Follow her blog at http://rachelclaireunworthy.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rachelclaireunworthy/.