More Favourite Books: Five Fiction Picks

The lama jibbed at the open door of a crowded third-class carriage. ‘Were it not better to walk?’ said he weakly.

A burly Sikh artisan thrust forth his bearded head. ‘Is he afraid? Do not be afraid. I remember the time when I was afraid of the te-rain. Enter! This thing is the work of the Government.’

-Rudyard Kipling, Kim

A few months ago I wrote a post about ten of my favourite books. All of these were nonfiction books. While I read fiction books far less frequently, I thought I would share a few of my favourites here.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

I love this book. It is easy in this day and age to dismiss Kipling as the colonialist author of The White Man’s Burden. I am not a Kipling scholar, but I think that would be a mistake. Not only is Kim a compelling and well-written story,  I think it shows a deep sympathy and respect for India. This is one of only a few books that I have read multiple times, and each time I have found it to be a charming adventure.

“These be the sort” — she took a fine judicial tone, and stuffed her mouth with paan — “These be the sort to oversee justice. They know the land and the customs of the land. The others, all new from Europe, suckled by white women and learning our tongues from books, are worse than the pestilence. They do harm to kings.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossaini

I read this book shortly after it came out. Written by an Afghan author and with much of it set in Afghanistan, I was very curious. The book did not disappoint and has since received a lot of deserved praise. The story itself is well-written, though heartbreaking. Yet despite being sad and sometimes shocking, it also has parts that are achingly beautiful and ends on a hopeful note.

“I think that everything he did, feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, it was all a way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.”

The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz

Originally written in Swedish, this novel explores the Christian faith from a Lutheran perspective. The novel is made up of three short stories set in Sweden over three generations. I found this book to be challenging and refreshing in equal measure.

“It is one thing to choose Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, to give him one’s heart and commit oneself to him, and that he now accepts one into his little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one’s heart to him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks his walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him.”

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Recommended by a good friend, I read this book while in university. It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It is not a light read by any means, but I found it to be a book that made me think as well as being entertaining.

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

This is a book with more plot twists than I could count which made for a very interesting read. In addition to being a thrilling story, the book also leaves the reader with much to think about.

“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front–“

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “More Favourite Books: Five Fiction Picks

  1. Thanks for sharing. Your tastes are thoughtful and spiritual, but certainly have a pedigree. I have many C.S. Lewis books in my personal library, but as of yet I have only read The Screwtape Letters, which I was made to read in prep school. Kim is familiar, but I don’t recall reading it. Perhaps I will slip it into my current reading.

    I read the Kite Runner when it appeared, and used it for my student book club. I like stories of redemption, and that and betrayal are major themes. Never having visited Afghanistan—though my daughter lived and worked there—I still felt the Muslim perspective rang true. There are no Shi’a in Morocco, but the country is divided between Arabs, basically those whose native tongue is dialectical Arabic, and Berbers, who are rural and speak Berber. Morocco used to have many native Jews, and throwing Christian Frenchmen and Spaniards into the mix, history produced a society with complex interactions.

    I read Hosseni’s second book, which focused on the problems of women in his Muslim world. I did not think the story was as tight, I thought it less literary, but the story certainly rang true. Abuse and injustice are often the plight of Muslim women because their societies often place access to justice beyond their reach, while poverty and illiteracy add still more impediments.

    I just read the incredible story in La Depeche (Toulouse, France) of a husband who went to the urologist for the first time, only to find that he was infertile, despite having 9 children! He sued his wife for adultery, which under Moroccan law is a crime, and asked that she be punished. I don’t think the punishments are harsh. Morocco has modified the Islamic basis of its legal system, but it is difficult to imagine a Moroccan man being punished for adultery.

    I would say to my liberal Muslim friends, all societies are imperfect in many different ways, and many people in non-Muslim lands are seeking social justice, too.

    Thanks again, I will read Kim and keep the other books in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment. If you get the chance to read Kim, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

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      1. Here’s a link to a recent biography of Kipling. I think that you may find it interesting. If you are unable to call it up, I can send you a pdf, though not via WordPress.

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  2. Hey Bravo!

    Thank you for the book recommendations, we are always looking for something to take with us on our next trip!

    Your friends at GKexplorers,
    -K

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. Kim I have read many times as well. I’ve read the Kite Runner and Hammer of God too. I can’t remember if I’ve read Till We Have Faces. I read a ton of CS Lewis senior year of high school but don’t remember the quote. Good recommendation on The Man Who Was Thursday, I’ll have to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well! Since I agree with your evaluation of the others, I will now have to read the Chesterton recommendation–the only one I haven’t read.

    Liked by 1 person

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