The cold winter months have really fuelled my reading of late as snuggling up with a good book when the weather outside is so cold and blustery is a wonderfully comforting feeling. I usually read a lot more non-fiction than I do fiction, but I’ve had so much fun with fiction over the last couple of months that I’ve set myself the goal of reading one fiction book per month throughout 2018.
Here are some of the fiction books I’ve been reading lately:
Having watched The Muppets version of A Christmas Carol religiously on Christmas Eve for over a decade I decided it was high time I actually read the original book, this copy of which we’ve had sat unread for far too many years. The work of Charles Dickens has always felt a little intimidating to me as I tend to picture incredibly thick books filled with lofty words set against the back drop of bleak Victorian England. A Christmas Carol is a great introduction to the works of Dickens. Firstly, because it’s not too thick. Secondly, because it’s not too bleak and thirdly, because most of us are quite familiar with the festive story the parts with the occasional lofty words are understandable. The illustrations by P.J. Lynch in this publication of the book also entice you to keep reading and there is definitely more to the story than the TV adaptations can include. I felt these extra snippets added a lot of depth and back story to Scrooge’s character and felt a lot more empathy for how the young man became the “miserable, bitter old miser” we often remember him as.
Historical fiction may be my favourite reading genre but somehow it has taken me 30 years to discover the gem that is Little Women. Set during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 this once wealthy family now finds itself rather poor and with Mr March away on the battle field, Mrs March and the two eldest daughters are working to support the family. Jo, our protagonist along with her sisters Meg, Beth & Amy befriend a new neighbour, Laurie and the first part of the book follows their childhood games and war time struggles. The second part of the book follows the various adventures of the sisters as they come of age and find their place in the world. It’s not all love, marriage and babies though, although those do make up some very sweet parts of the story. The book is also full of some very relatable character struggles, as well as the presence of fear, the pain of rejection, and the heartbreak of loss. I think as a mother of just girls this book appealed to me all the more and the scenes of sisterly love, squabbles and unity were particularly sweet to me. I was pretty much hooked from chapter one and in fact a word of warning: Do not read this book when sat in the Departure Lounge of an airport, you may get so wrapped up in the story that you almost miss your flight!
I read this book a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely, more so now that I am reading it again with my church Core Group. Francine Rivers is well known for her historical fiction with Christian themes, but the stories from this book are actually based on the real women in the Bible that were woven into the genealogy of Jesus; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and of course, Mary the mother of Jesus. I love how the author can bring so much life and context to even the shortest of passages in the Bible. She really helps you to read the Bible in the culture and context in which it was set, enabling you to rethink the familiar stories you thought you knew so well. I highly recommend this book, as well as Sons of Encouragement by the same author, which is written in a similar style. Both books come with discussion questions at the end of each novella to help you to dig deeper and unpack the stories more.