Should Christians read fiction? Some ask that question. The answer for me is an unequivocal, “Yes they should.” Stories should play a crucial role in discipleship. Choose wisely. Read broadly. Let the stories grab your heart as they form you into a more mature disciple of Jesus Christ.
With that being said, where should you start? Here are my five fiction must reads.
1. J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring
I love everything about J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. It rings true for me. And adventuring there makes me a better person. Tolkien has a robust view of sovereignty, friendship, fellowship, and food, strength in weakness, and sacrifice. He takes many of the classical components of the epic and incorporates them into his novels making them connected to the past and also a new mythology for English speakers.
2. Shakespeare’s Plays
Shakespeare is the boss. His vocabulary is bonkers. Besides the Bible, his stories, themes, and memorable lines saturate the English language. Like Tolkien, Shakespeare addresses the big themes and he does so within a Christian worldview. And he does so well. Read one every couple months until you've read all the plays several times and you won’t be disappointed in yourself.
3. Jane Austen’s Novels
I sat in my English class and my profession Dr. Horton said that when he first started teaching he had to justifying teaching Jane Austen, but now she was seeing a revitalization. He taught her novels in a way that made me love them. Corey Poff wrote an excellent article on why he reads Jane Austen and I could agree more. He ends by saying, “Brilliant. Just brilliant”—and I couldn’t agree more.
4. Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River
I just read this last year and was completely overtaken by it. It’s a book that’s filled with depth and humanity. You are immediately invested with these characters and care deeply about them. There are some major themes like love and sacrifice that just hit you in the face in a very well-crafted way. Seriously. Buy. Read. Your welcome.
5. Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey
If you read, but have never read one the classic epics, you’re missing out. There’s a lot of meat and onward as English literature explodes onto the scene its writers use these epics to good affect. If you really want to be awesome and more refined than all your friends, read Homer then Virgil then Dante Alighieri then Beowulf then John Milton.
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the assistant editor at CBMW Men’s Channel. He regularly writes for a variety of publications. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting.