This is my list of must-read books, with series ending when appropriate by story not publication. This page will be updated regularly.
The Chronicles of Narnia
(I’m including these in the original order, the order in which they were written. The world, theology, and characters VERY MUCH follow this order instead of the chronological order used by publishers today. This is important because ideas, concepts, and relationships develop in this order and lack a lot of punch and importance if you don’t know that Cedric Diggory’s scene is both beginning and ending of the White Witch’s story, for example.)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
A Horse and his Boy
The Magician’s Nephew
The Last Battle
As one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher, puts it, we need to learn to edit our fiction. When I was in High School, sorting my way through the morass of badly-written Christian fiction, I discovered Stephen R. Lawhead. Lawhead remained a staple of my reading for the next decade. He has written many books, and I may add others to the list later on, but Mr. Lawhead did such an amazing job with Aurthurian legend that the first three (and only the first three, sadly) of his Pendragon Cycle series are must-reads for fantasy/historical fiction fans. What you may not know if you’re not both a historian and a reader is how seamlessly Lawhead uses tales and plots from Welsh legend (The Mabinogion) throughout his narrative.
Many, if not most of the books on this page are not going to be openly Christian fiction. If you haven’t figured it out yet, most Christian fiction is about as refined as the bodice-ripper rack at Wal-Mart, but there are exceptions. I recommend the following three books by James Byron Huggins thoroughly.
A Wolf Story– In eight years of youth work I read three copies of this book to shreds, literally, to groups of teenage guys. It’s a fairy tale as told by Jack London, and is a stirring call to perseverance, faith, and dedication of growing strength to the One Good Cause. If I could afford it, I would give a copy of this book to every Christian boy in the English-speaking world as required reading upon hitting puberty.
Leviathan– This stand-alone story adds bit of Jurassic Park to a fascinating and under-developed thread of European history. Fans of Crichton will find this enjoyable.
The Reckoning– Huggins tackles international conspiracy and revenge in a book that echoes back to Ludlum’s Bourne novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of Ludlum and Tom Clancy.