Monday, August 23, 2010

Favorites - Day 1

This month's Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour features not one book but many: participants choose their favorite books, new or old, classics or almost unknown, and discuss them as they will. Not sure what I'm gonna talk about -- I'm just gonna sit down at the computer and let fly with whatever comes to mind. After all, most of my favorites are rooted in classic literature: The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance, or Pilgrim's Progress -- which, now that I think about it, is probably my very first introduction to Christian fiction. Sure, there were stories in Sunday School or in anthologies, but Pilgrim's Progress was a totally different animal than the "Dick and Jane" types of stories I encountered as a young'un.

As soon as I learned to read, I read everything, including stuff that was beyond my comprehension. I could read the words, follow the sentences, but couldn't always understand the meaning of the material. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. It caused me to stretch my young mind, to ask questions, to learn the basic research tools of looking up the hard words in the dictionary or interviewing my elders who knew more than I did.

Pilgrim's Progress, more allegory than fantasy, was easy to understand, and I could draw direct parallels with reality. The Chronicles of Narnia was not so tidy, and I could not always see Truth in the fantasy, being so caught in the story that I didn't step back to try to gain any wisdom or knowledge from the material. But that's the beauty of story, isn't it?

A story can do what a parent or a preacher or a mentor cannot: it can engage our minds and emotions in such a way that truth has a chance of being introduced, whereas we might not give much credence to what other people say, or we might be too distracted to really hear them. A story has the ability to reach us when a lecture avails nothing.

Not that a story's main job is to teach, preach, or discipline. Stories can be oral histories. They can be entertainment. They can be introductions to new worlds and ideas, reminders of old worlds and foundational ideas, glimpses into other cultures, wild rides in the unbounded imaginations of creative authors. Stories have the power to change, heal, inspire. They have, as a collective force, drawn me toward the Wonderland of storytelling. Over the course of the next two days, I hope to talk about other favorite books that have shaped my life.

Meantime, visit these stops on the blog tour, and check out the favorite tales of other writers and readers:
Brandon Barr
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
  George Duncan
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Jason Waguespac
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Pilgrim's Progress! It hadn't crossed my mind to include that one, but what better book to feature? That on is the granddaddy of them all!


Rachel Starr Thomson said...

When I was a kid, we had an illustrated version of "Pilgrim's Progress" called "Dangerous Journey" kicking around, with all this gorgeous, delicate, sometimes-scary-as-anything 70s-style artwork. In some ways, I think that story with its accompanying pictures had as big (or bigger) an impact on my fledgling imagination that the fantasy books I later read. Thanks for reminding me!

Keanan Brand said...

Becky -- Can't tell you how many times I read it as a kid, but I've never owned a copy. How crazy is that?

Rachel -- Some friends had a comic-book-like abridgment, and I liked the pictures, but it seemed not quite as interesting as the "full-blooded" editions I'd already become used to reading. There's no telling the influence that single book has had on my life.

Jeff Chapman said...

Have you read C. S. Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress? I have both Pilgrim's Progress and Lewis's revision on my book shelf but haven't read either yet. I need more hours in the day.