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Guest Blog: Top Ten Novels (from my son Lukas)

posted by xscot mcknight

My son is a fiction reader, and here are his Top Ten Books: Novels. Thanks Luke. Did he miss some good ones?

Top Ten (Semi)-Recent Novels

1. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway- saddest book
I can ever imagine, and classic Hemingway dealing with
wounds and scars and wars and failed love.

2. Native Son, Richard Wright- moving book about the
struggles of African-Americans.

3. Cien Anos de Soledad (One Hundred Years of
Solitude), Gabriel Garcia Marquez- a sad and hilarious
book all at the same time; master of magical realism.

4. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving- God’s hand is
in everything, and it doesn’t always make sense.

5. The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay- the classic
novel of South Africa.

6. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown -no, I’m just kidding,
thought I’d check and see if you were really reading.

7. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck- just a classic.

8. Hey Nostradamus, Douglas Coupland- a fictional
depiction of violence in schools with interesting
commentary on modern Christianity through the eyes of
various narrators.

9. The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis- insightful.

10. Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway- Papa said
he intended no symbolism in the book at all; it was
just a story about one of his fellow marlin fishermen,
Gregorio Fuentes.

11. The Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis- great series,
better (and a tad less wordy) than Lord of the Rings.

Here are my (Scot McKnight) comments. I read The Old Man and the Sea ever year, along with A Christmas Carol and, if I can find the time, Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. I’ve been to Hemingway’s homes in Oak Park, IL, and in Key West, FL, and to his site in Ketchum, ID. I’ve touched Lewis’ wardrobe door at the Wade Center.

I’ve read Lewis’ novels. I read The DaVinci Code because I had to. I started Owen Meany but didn’t finish it; I did see the movie. I’ve not read the others.

On the Russian novelists…. I get lost in their endless train treks across Siberia, and can never keep their names straight, so I’ve never finished one of the Russians. But, I like them as thinkers and read their essays and biographies.

Comments read comments(28)
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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted August 20, 2005 at 11:47 am

If you are going to read Coupland, “Girlfriend In A Coma” is an absolute must. Of his non-fiction(ish) books, read “Life Without God”. Coupland’s more recent books have been ok, but not as authentic as his earlier writings (IMHO).Peace,Jamie

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John Frye

posted August 20, 2005 at 12:31 pm

Scot, I appreciate your honesty about the Russian writers. Everytime I read something by Philip Yancey I feel guilty for not devouring The Brothers Karamosov, etc. Luke, not one Pat Conroy novel made it to the list. Oh well.

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posted August 20, 2005 at 1:04 pm

scot, have you read any orson scott card? I think you might like him if you haven’t. start with enders game.

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Aly H.

posted August 20, 2005 at 1:40 pm

The Brothers Karamosov is worth slogging through the endless train rides, etc. Really.I recently read Cloud Atlas by a new-ish British novelist, David Mitchell. Time will tell if he becomes one of “the greats,” but it blew my mind.I would add Lewis’s Til We Have Faces. Not as popular as the others, I think because it has deeper thematic layers and is a lot more “grown up.” Amazing storytelling.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 20, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Stephen,Never heard of this author.Here’s the truth: everybody suggests someone I should try. I read Eco only because it was theology and reminded me of Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh.I’ll check out Card in a bookstore someday.

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Lukas McKnight

posted August 20, 2005 at 2:39 pm

My Coupland reading is limited to Hey Nostradamus, but I’ll get to some more in the near future.Sorry about missing out on Conroy, too; I hear the same thing about James Patterson novels, but I tend to neglect the ones being sold on the shelves of airports. I’m going to get to Life of Pi next since I’ve heard many good things, but I’m just finishing up The Sun Also Rises (couldn’t have TOO much Hemingway on a top 10 list) for the 4th time.

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John Frye

posted August 20, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Luke, try Pat Conroy’s BEACH MUSIC. I’ve read it twice. He’s a master of metaphor and a good, gripping writer. He’s not your typical airport paperback author. He’s got a sort of autobiographical non-fiction titled MY LOSING SEASON when he played basketball for The Citadel. Great, but sad story.

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Aly H.

posted August 20, 2005 at 3:41 pm

You will not regret Life of Pi, Lukas. Also check out Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.And I second John’s recommendation of Beach Music. You can feel the humidity and hear the crickets.

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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted August 20, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Luke, “Life of Pi” won’t disappoint. It is an excellent read. There was an announcement that it will be brought to film, with M. Night Shyamalan’s rumoured involvement, which is a perfect fit. Let us know when youve read some of the recommended.Peace,Jamie

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posted August 20, 2005 at 6:39 pm

Oh btw, for fantasy, the defining series is by STephen R. Donaldson.. more believable than Narnia, and more depth than LOTR, and more theological than either.

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posted August 20, 2005 at 9:06 pm

Everyone needs to at least read the Grand Inquisitor excerpt from Bros. K. I believe it’s available in combination with a few others from Dostoyevsky. It’s thought-provoking.War & Peace (so far, I’ve finally broken the 1100 mark–yes…I DID start it 2 years ago, Scot) isn’t bad. I find the military analyses (is that how it’s spelled?) interesting though unapplicable, but the repetition of events from different viewpoints…not my thing.jinny

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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted August 20, 2005 at 10:05 pm

Sorry, I need to make a correction. Douglas Couplands most excellent book is entitled “Life After God”. My mistake, which demands correction, as it is a powerful book.Jamie

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posted August 21, 2005 at 1:18 am

I’m just aghast at the fact that you haven’t read Karamasov, Scot. I think it figures prominently in the background thinking of many in the missional church. (Ok, I just made that up, but good lord, man, I had to do something to spur you on!)

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posted August 21, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Luke…Glad to see “Owen” on the list – one of my all time favorites. Sometimes I just thumb through it wishing I could read it again like it was the first time. I’m going to read Hemmingway’s book based on your recommendation. Thanks. Have you read The Kite Runner…very good novel.Peace.

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posted August 21, 2005 at 6:12 pm

Just curious, why do you read Old Man and the Sea every year?

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Scot McKnight

posted August 21, 2005 at 6:57 pm

Nancy,Because I love the prose — and fishing and baseball all wrapped into such glorious prose, and the struggle but no glory allowed — so Hemingway, so tragic, so good. Maybe also because it is so blessed short. Usually on some cool afternoon on the screened-in back porch.

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posted August 23, 2005 at 8:32 am

- The LOTR trilogy is an annual must-read for me.- Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice- Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence- Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez… the list could go on and on

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Lukas McKnight

posted August 23, 2005 at 10:36 am

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is far too often overlooked; in fact, in an English class in college, we read “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” in class (we had to, as the prof. reminded us that it was REQUIRED reading), but we did not even discuss it as our prof. told us it was too weird and didn’t make any sense. Needless to say that she missed the whole point of Marquez’s writing. He is a great writer from another culture offering a different perspective; and he’s hilarious!

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Benjamin Myers

posted August 23, 2005 at 7:26 pm

If I was to read anything year-by-year, then The Old Man and the Sea would be near the top of my list too. It’s exquisite beyond words. And to name one more seafaring yarn: there is nothing quite like Moby-Dick.

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Lukas McKnight

posted August 23, 2005 at 9:47 pm

Moby Dick is best if you read the 1st and last 3 chapters, but that’s just my opinion.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 23, 2005 at 9:51 pm

And that sermon in Nantuckett is great.

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J. B. Hood

posted August 24, 2005 at 8:06 am

Kudos for getting Richard Wright up there.No Harper Lee, though? It’s the perfect book…says things every adult needs to hear, but can be understood by little ‘uns.

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posted August 24, 2005 at 12:01 pm

you wroteI’ve touched Lewis’ wardrobe door at the Wade Center.With all due respect, and not at all serious, but in the playful banter of collegial competition, consider the following: Pastor and grad ofWestmont – home of the REAL wardrobe. ; )

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Scot McKnight

posted August 24, 2005 at 4:05 pm

I remember hearing about this little battle about the real wardrobe.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 24, 2005 at 4:06 pm

I remember hearing about this little battle about the real wardrobe.That web address didn’t work.

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Juan Antonio Montero

posted March 22, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Fellow Readers,
Any discussion of “must-read”literature has to include Plato’s Republic and Man of La Mancha by M. Cervantes.

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posted July 12, 2006 at 9:12 am

Best regards from NY!

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posted July 18, 2006 at 9:54 pm

best regards, nice info

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