Fiction transforms us. As one person put it, fiction invites us into a "metaworld," where we learn more about the world we actually live in: Who we actually are, what people are actually like, how God might actually be. Here are some works of fiction that I've loved over the years, many of which are free!
So you know: The covers on the left link to the book on Amazon, and any purchases made through the link generate a small commission to pay for the costs of the blog.
Till We Have Faces
I see myself in Orual, and I'm grateful to say she's changed me. Lewis considered his last novel his most mature (likely because he had help from his wife Joy on this one), and I have to agree.
Les Misrérables (free!)
I'm not sure who moves me more deeply, Jean Valjean or Father Bienvenue, but this story has repeatedly challenged me to reconsider the gospel and its effects over the last decade.
I think of Chesterton's Manalive as a less polished, funnier version of Dostoevsky's thought experiment in The Idiot. Admittedly, some of Chesterton's racism does leak through, but the payoff of a discerning read is worth the flaws.
The first two chapters of this book are admittedly slow, but once you get into the thick of the plot, you'll find that there's more to Robin Hood than you ever knew. This book is also my favorite illustration of the Kingdom of God that is "now and not yet."
All the Light We Cannot See
I recommend this book simply because it's beautiful--one of the best stories I've read in a long time.
The Brothers Karamazov
Each time, this book has taken me months and months to read. It's not out of boredom--it's because there are so many characters that so resemble real life, it takes a while to process them all. The link to the left goes to the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, which I found greatly improved the reading experience, but it's also available for as little as $0.99, which is like 11 pages per penny for possibly the greatest novel ever written.
This Side of Paradise (free!)
Amory Blaine starts out annoying and ends up lovable, hopefully a bit like me. With the same proclivities and in the same town, this book reminds me of what I must not become if I am to be a Christ-like nerd.
From the author/illustrator who created The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I think sitting down for about 3 hours and reading this part-text/part-illustration masterpiece is one of the most enjoyable ways you could spend an afternoon.
The Idiot (free!)
In The Idiot, Dostoevsky creates one of the most intriguing and winsome characters I've ever encountered: A worthwhile reflection on the character of Christ and Christians.
The Father Brown Mysteries
One of my favorite rituals is reading a Father Brown mystery before bed. I'll stop for months at a time, but when life is most overwhelming, these are the straightforward stories I turn to. If you don't want to buy all of them for $0.99, you can get the first 12 for free.