Fun Finds

Fun Finds for Everyday #2

Oh hey December! Well, there’s no snow in my area this month (although it was a warm 10 degrees this week), but in a funny twist, family and friends in both Louisiana and Texas have gotten all the snow. I guess they’re just trying to be like The Springs :). Anyway, I hope this Christmas season has started off beautifully for you and that you are encouraged by the hope we celebrate a little bit extra this month!

And if you need some gift ideas, these might help!

1. Awesome Tolkien Shirt. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Thanks to the internet, I’m the absolute easiest person to shop for. Get me something of Tolkien or Lewis and I’m set. Like this shirt for example or the coffee mug. Seriously. I’ll be the happiest person.

2. See above.

3. Jute Clutch. With Christmas parties and NYE parties coming up, it’s always nice to have a pretty clutch option. I love mine! It’s in gold, but was a hit at the NYE party I went to last year!

4. Sunburst Ring. I love rings! When I find one I love, I’m wearing it all the time. I love the simplicity of this design and the silver. Plus sunbursts make me smile.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

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Inklings, Movie Musings

It’s Been Long Enough: My Thoughts on The Hobbit Movies

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

I realize I never really shared my thoughts on The Hobbit trilogy movies. I admit, I had plans to and I never got around to it…I’m sure my feelings will help explain why.

Before I dive into my nerdy post of angst, I will say I love the music from all three. When you have Thorin, Pippin and Ed Sheeran singing, bound for musical brilliance (the LOTR soundtrack is my background jam right now)

I also need to add I don’t think PJ (Peter Jackson) is a terrible director or producer. He’s insanely talented. I remember picking up the first LOTR movie on sale at Target (I had seen the cartoons long before that and remembered pieces of it) and after watching it, I vividly remember thinking “WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THIS BEFORE?!” It was love at first sight. I read the books immediately and was first in line for the two other movies (I took off work on release day).

BUT. Even he admitted he was making it up with The Hobbit as he went. So it’s not just me.

Alright, now let’s get honest and real…..

Movie One

“YAYYYYYYY!!! We’re back in Middle earth!!”

https://giphy.com/embed/knFyKpWwkFfMI

I was so ready!
https://giphy.com/embed/HVr4gFHYIqeti

After the movie, I thought “You know, PJ added some things and mixed them up, but that’s okay…he changed a few things in LOTR too…I think these will still be so great!” I have to say though, the Gollum/Bilbo scene was spot on and I really enjoyed the riddles scene.

I mean, y’all, who didn’t get chills when Thorin began singing “Misty Mountains?” Chills!

If only the awesomeness lasted…

Movie Two

“Well at least the dragon was really cool. I’m trying to just enjoy Middle Earth and not focus on what is happening to one of my beloved books. I’ll just pretend the love triangle isn’t actually happening. Instead, we’re just going to pretend it’s like LOTR all over again.”

https://giphy.com/embed/kl3F9X1zETOW4

Movie Three

“These movies are dead to me.”

Let’s go ahead with some bullet points:

  • THAT’S NOT HOW KILI AND FILI DIED. THIS IS LAME. I HATE THIS MOVIE.
  • Why hate on the eagles? They deserved better.
  • Ignoring Beorn are you PJ? Why? He’s awesome (he took out the Goblin leader in the Battle) and why did he get 17 seconds towards the end of the battle which consisted of jumping off an eagle while transforming?
  • The love story…just no.
  • Have I mentioned Kili and Fili deserved better? They died protecting their King, they weren’t killed by the pale jerk of an Orc (WHO WASN’T IN THE BOOK) (And before you get angry, yes I know Azog is in Middle Earth history, but he was not in The Hobbit and did not need such a role. The enemies they had were just fine). Also, neither died protecting a non existent elf either.
  • Did PJ watch Tremors while writing this?
  • I don’t understand the obsession with the creepy unibrow fellow (he doesn’t deserve a Google search to remember his name). Why was he in the movies again? Besides to haunt your dreams?

Suffice to say my Hobbit heart was broken in two when all was said and done. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it on DVD…that means something Internet…

Alright, did y’all like the movies? I promise not to hold judgement if you do! 😉

Inklings

A Guest Post From Wesley – All Things Tolkien and Lewis!

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Today is another fabulous guest post from my friend Wesley! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here.) 

Hi everyone! I’m Wesley and I blog over at Library Educated. When Jamie asked me if I wanted in on Inklings Week I could not say yes fast enough! I’ve been a C.S. Lewis fan for a long time but have come to appreciate J.R.R.’s thorough world building and vast landscapes!

I think that it is fair to say that the people who love the books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are a fairly rabid bunch (maybe not like, One Direction fan base type of rabid, but I think that that’s okay). People have expressed their love of these books in all types of ways: tattoos, art, reimagined book covers, things that I MUST HAVE on Etsy, and of course – memes.

It’s hard not to be inspired by the books even before you open the books up and dive into their stories, look at some of these covers!

And my personal favorite of the Tolkien group:

Did you know there was a Queen who illustrated Lord of the Rings? Yeah! Check it out!

And onto some of my favorite CS Lewis covers (many from the same editions):

#saddragonissadbecausehisnameisEustaceandhealmostdeservedit
(Long hashtag is long)

Tattoos

(You guys, this whole post could be made up of “Not all who wander are lost” tattoos for the Tolkien end of things. We will keep it to one.)

Any my favorite, random funny things on the internet (everyone’s favorite really, right?)

Ring ding ding ding ding ding ding!

And a Narnia – X-Men crossover? Yes please!
Awwww!
When you wish upon a scary floating eye…..

So basically my Inklings Week post was me messing around on the internet for hours and I couldn’t be more grateful to Jamie for the opportunity!

Yay!! Thanks so much for joining in Wesley – this was so much fun to read (lots of laughs too!). So y’all have a favorite from Wesley’s post?

Inklings

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Inklings

The Reason I love C.S. Lewis | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I’m excited to have the lovely Katherine Reay on the blog today chatting about C.S. Lewis! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

Welcome Katherine!

If you’ve read any of my books, you know I love books. The stories I write are saturated with the stories of others because I believe books form a common language. The Classics are not “classic” merely because they are old. They endure because they are timeless and true. We return to them again and again because they speak with relevance to our experiences, our thoughts and our lives.

If you’ve read any of my books, you also know I love C.S. Lewis. He isn’t mentioned or quoted or cited as often as Austen, Bronte or Dickens – and there’s a reason for that. He is my little secret and the foundation, if not the propulsion, for everything I write.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain…

The idea for Dear Mr. Knightley came from a few sources. One can readily recognize Daddy Long Legs (Jean Webster) behind its structure. But rather than an homage to that story, Dear Mr. Knightley only “hides” within its framework much as its heroine Sam Moore hides behind literary characters. Rather Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters helped me form the basis of Sam’s journey.

The Screwtape Letters is a “diabolical parody” written in a series of letters from a top devil, Screwtape (an Under Secretary and “affectionate uncle”), to a beginning devil, Wormwood. The subject? Advice on how to secure a “patient” – a human soul – for their father in hell. The story is packed with humor and incredibly accurate insights into the human psyche as the patient is bombarded again and again by obstacles, temptations and pressures – anything and everything to keep his eyes off eternity. Reading this, I wondered how might a woman react today to getting hit again and again. Could she recognize the eternal or even begin to ask and answer those deeper longings for love, trust, safety in the midst of such trials?

It may not have been a nice way to treat Sam, but I did enjoy her tenacity in seeking wholeness. She – and we – keep asking those deep heartfelt questions and seek answers no matter our sufferings. We may even ask more loudly and fight harder for truth in the midst of them.

Lizzy and Jane, my second novel, came to me as I read another Lewis favorite: The Four Loves. In this non-fiction work, Lewis outlines and examines the four loves in our lives and the order in which we could/should regard them. Affection. Sibling love. Romantic love. God love. This examination prompted me to ask what could or would happen to a woman if I took all four loves away. What would force her to recognize their loss and seek them again? Although I consider Lizzy & Jane my “sister story,” Lizzy’s journey is one answer to this question.

As an aside, if you get a chance to listen to The Four Loves’ audio recording, please do. It is one of the only remaining recordings of C.S. Lewis reading his own work, and his voice, intonation and occasional jokes will make you smile.

The Bronte Plot is my most obvious homage to Lewis. His The Great Divorce is a wonderful dream and a fascinating journey. While asleep, Lewis travels to heaven where he witnesses souls journeying “upward and onward.” Decisions must be made and burdens relinquished. Wrapped within fantasy, he introduces us to the idea of free will, choice and consequence – strings pulling at our hearts and the nature of surrender. This was a touch point for me when I wrestled with Lucy and Helen’s choices in The Bronte Plot and planned their journey both internally and throughout England.

My next book, A Portrait of Emily Price, will release in November and it too began with Lewis. I had a bit more fun in this story as I examined Lewis’s Surprised by Joy and Till We Have Faces. Emily Price is a look at one young woman’s search for surrender and joy amidst some beautiful Italian scenery, delicious food, great art and a very handsome husband.

I could go on and on… There’s so much Lewis to explore. There’s Narnia (Lewis liked Reepicheep and Puddleglum best. I favor Edmund and Eustace.), there’s his science fiction (Out of the Silent Planet etc.), there are essays, there are letters… And there are countless biographies and collections that bring Lewis’s humanity and brilliance to us. Currently, I’m thoroughly enjoying C.S. Lewis: Man of Letters by Thomas Howard. Howard is addressing each of Lewis’s fictional works and his analysis overflows with the joy he finds within Lewis.

And there is the crux of it… The reason I love Lewis. Joy! He sought joy, expressed joy, and he reveled in joy. Absolutely everything Lewis wrote points to it. I read Lewis because he not only provides a wonderful story, but because I agree with his motivations to write and enjoy such stories. He would assert that Joy exists, “story” always comes first and a “deeper magic,” a deeper story, propels the best fiction.

Thank you so much for inviting me here and letting me indulge in one of my favorite subjects. If anyone wants to comment, I’m sure Jamie would love to chat and, if she doesn’t mind, I’ll chime in as well.

Have a joyful and joy-filled day!

KBR

Inklings

Why Tolkien and Jack Matter (And We’re Kicking Off Inklings Week!)

IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Inklings Week 2016! This is the second annual event and I’m so glad you’re joining in! I have lots of giveaways planned (some at the end of this post) and guest posts and all around Inklings awesomeness. So join the fun friends! (Also if you’re interested in last year’s posts, you can find them here)

I can say without a doubt, that the fictional works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have shaped my faith (and life) in more ways than any other pieces of literature. Some might say I’m a “fan” or maybe a bit “obsessed.” To which I say yep! That is 110% true. I can (and do) talk about them all the time. I can’t help it. Very few fictional works have spoken so deeply to my heart as those of Tolkien and Lewis.

There’s a scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where, after all their adventures on the ship, Lucy and Edmund encounter Aslan for the first “real” time in the book. It is here they find out they will not be returning to Narnia. Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

Dead y’all. Dead. Outside of, you know, the Bible, Aslan has taught me more about God’s character and Jesus than any other fictional character.

And that’s what Tolkien and Lewis have done for me. They understood the power of story and were able to make themes of hope, redemption, love, sacrifice, friendship and adventure come alive.

What is it about their fantasy works that stir the heart the way they do? Well, let’s ask them shall we?

In Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch, Lewis offers the answer to those who condemn a book because it is fantasy.

“‘But why’, (some ask), ‘why, if you have a serious comment to make on the real life of men, must you do it by talking about a phantasmagoric never-never land of your own?’ Because, I take it, one of the main things the author wants to say is that the real life of men is of that mythical and heroic quality.” He continues, “The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story.”

Joseph Loconte also explains it rather well in his book, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and War:

Mythmaking, what Tolkien calls “mythopoeia,” is a way of fulfilling God’s purposes as the Creator. By inventing a myth—by populating a world with elves and orcs, dragons and witches, gods and goddesses—the storyteller tries to retrieve the world he knew before man’s fall from grace. “There was an Eden on this very unhappy earth,” Tolkien explained many years later. “We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile.’ ” The mythmaker, fired by the sense of exile and the desire to return to his authentic home, reflects “a splintered fragment of the true light.”

That’s just the surface of it, yet packs a punch in explaining why their works matter so much. Plus, the stories are awesome!

Why do you love Tolkien or Lewis (or both!)? What are some of your favorite reads from them?

Inklings

My (Current) Top 6 Books Written by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the final post of Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in – it’s been a lot of fun and I look forward to next year (which will actually be by International Inklings Day, May 11th)! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

Whenever I create any type of “favorites” list, I don’t include books written by Tolkien or Lewis. It wouldn’t be fair to the competition. But since it’s Inklings Week, I wanted to share my current favorites of the boys.

If you’re new to either Tolkien or Lewis, then this post is especially for you, but only because I get the honor of introducing you to some of the best books ever written. It’s a list of my favorites and ones I recommend to folks who are interested reading one of their books for the first time. (If I’ve read it for this blog, then it’s linked up, so you can hear me gush and discuss on those posts.)

Let’s start with Professor Tolkien. How can one adequately put into words just how amazing the creation of Middle Earth is? Before this turns into a gush fest, here’s my current top 3.

  • The Hobbit
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King (Stop by next Wed. for this discussion!)

C.S. Lewis is a bit more difficult. From Narnia to Mere Christianity, how’s a girl to choose? Well, I’m going with the following three. Ask me next month and the list will probably change, but no matter, because these are all excellent ones to start with.

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Great Divorce

I’m glad we can all agree that they were geniuses and I look forward to reading more from them!

What are some of your favorite works by Tolkien and/or Lewis?

Inklings

Welcome to Inklings Week (and Why I Love Their Books)!

Ready for a bit of summer fun?! It’s the first ever Inklings Week! I thought of doing a Inklings Week earlier this year around International Inklings Day (it’s not a thing yet, but it shall be!) in May, but the idea popped in my head two days before. All kinds of planning time right? I also didn’t want to wait until 2016, so I figured July was the perfect month! (For all the posts from this year, just go here!)

First, things first – a (hopefully) fun announcement. You’ve already heard this if you subscribe to my quarterly newsletter (which you should totally sign up if you haven’t! It’s all kinds of bookish fun and there’s giveaways. You can here), but if not…there’s an Inklings podcast coming! I’m working on the details (like how I even get this up on iTunes) and material (I’m hoping it won’t be just me talking!) and I’m really excited about it. So if you’re into podcasts, I hope you’ll join in the fun!

There’s plenty of reasons people love the works of Tolkien and Lewis and I’d love to hear why you do! For me? Where to begin right? Their books have shown me what it means to be brave, what it means to be a true and loyal friend until the very end, what it means to love, what it means to fight for good against all odds, and what it means to embrace what you were meant to do.

Their books have also helped me realize it’s okay to wrestle with faith, to understand God’s character in ways I didn’t see before, how to hope in the most dire of circumstances and that there’s always a chance to turn back.

They wrote more than just books. They left a legacy (of their lives and their stories) that will continue to impact generations to come.

I love knowing I can always come back to them and be amazed. Sigh…I just love them.

So please, fellow fans, share below! Why do you enjoy reading Tolkien and Lewis?

Bookish Radness, Inklings

You don’t like Lord of the Rings? This Post is For You.

I like to think I have an open mind. I can debate with others who share completely different opinions from my own without getting fiery or feisty. Healthy debate is a good thing. Why? It helps you really understand why you value and believe what you do and you can learn a thing or two from other people.

Unless we’re discussing one thing. Then I have no choice but to inwardly (and quite possibly outwardly) judge you. What topic would cause such a dramatic reaction you ask? Must be one of the hot topics right? Religion or politics si? Nope, this goes much deeper readers.

Much much deeper.

We’re talking about Lord of the Rings* internet. Lord.of.the.Rings.

When someone tells me they don’t like Lord of the Rings, I’m a bit taken aback at first.

Say wha????

So I am here to make my confessions. I can’t help but possibly think some (or all) of these things when I encounter one of those lonely souls who doesn’t seem to enjoy my beloved Middle Earth.**

1. I don’t trust you.
Or anything you might say.

2. If we’re related, I question our blood connection.
Neither my parents or brother enjoy this type of genre, thus they aren’t fans of this EPIC, AWESOME AND LIFE-CHANGING story. As I’ve mentioned before, this has led me to believe I’m actually adopted from Middle Earth and they are hiding this from me. The only other explanation is they simply don’t like them and I’m not sure I can emotionally handle that yet. Now I know how Smeags felt.

3. I’m going to assume you hate friendship and love.
Because that’s what Middle Earth adventures are made of. If you want to be a murderer of love and happiness, well, to each his own. But I also have to ask, do you also hate puppies? Sunsets? Chocolate??? Because that’s what it feels like. Forget stabbing me in the back, just go right to the front. Why you’re at it, punch me in the face too.

4. I’m also going to assume you have plans to take over the world since you, as mentioned above, obviously hate friendship and love.
I should just start calling you Sauron now. But it’s cool, I’ve got arrow wielding friends.

5. I unfortunately can’t invite you to all of the things that happen in the cool kids’ circle.
I may or may not have thrown extremely awesome Middle Earth type get togethers in the past. Show up at my door with Frodo haterade?! Well then…

6. I might not show it, but you’re crushing my heart.
I can only handle so much of the world speaking crimes against Tolkien. But it’s cool, crying is healthy.

7. I’m going to need you to please provide legitimate reasons for not liking my Middle Earth.
If you don’t like Lord of the Rings because you were once attacked by a Hobbit, I can give you that. But if say you adore certain reality television or reading 50 Shades of Grey instead, well….I can only weep for you and all of humanity.

But if none of these apply to you and you’re Team Middle Earth, then if we’re ever in the same town, let’s pull a Merry and Pippin kay?!

*This also applies to all things The Hobbit and Narnia.
**This is all in jest of course! But only kinda. J.K….j…..k…..

What have I missed fellow fans? Also, if you aren’t a fan – what is it about the series you don’t like? I promise I’m genuinely curious as I know not everyone is a fantasy fan :). Also, if you want to join in the monthly Inklings series, I’d love to have you join! You can find all the details here!

Bookish Radness

My Top 8 All-Time Favorite Fiction Reads

Do I dare even tackle such a list? Now before you think there’s really only eight favorites on my list, I just have to say this is me we’re chatting about! But here’s a start of some novels that have held a place in my heart for at least 10 years. You know it’s solid if it’s remained on the list for at least a decade.

Mark of the Lion Series | Francine Rivers: If you ask me for a book recommendation, this will always be the first series I recommend. Looking for a biography of the 13th President? Read Mark of the Lion. Oh, you want a story about London society after 1912? I think the story of Marcus and Hadassah is just what you need. Just kidding, I’d give you a legit recommendation, but I don’t think I can put into words how amazing this series is. If I ever meet Francine Rivers, I’m just going to hug and thank her for this book. I’ve probably read it 10 times and I only see that number increasing through the years.

Just know it’s a three book series. I did not know this and when the first book ended, I texted my friend who recommended it asking why she would think to suggest a book that just RIPPED OUT MY SOUL. Yep, my reaction was equivalent to all caps plus a bag of chips and toss in some fireworks.

I own a hard copy and the kindle version so I can read it at anytime. I also read it two weeks after I read it for the first time because it’s just that amazing. If I could only have one series the rest of my life, this would be it. (I need to confess, I only read this about 5 years ago, but I’ve read it 10+ times, so I still added it to the list.)

Dracula | Bram Stoker: Vampires? Wha? Let’s just clear things up by saying it is nothing like modern day vampire shenanigans. No, this is a classic that so fantastically demonstrates battling such evil. I’m reminded that in the fight against evil, you will battle dark forces, you will lose people, you will want to quit, but you won’t. The world will be a better place because you didn’t. I haven’t read this one in a few years, but man, what a book! My e-reader friends, it’s free, so no excuses!

Redeeming Love | Francine Rivers: That sneaky, sneaky Rivers lady. Without knowing how it happens, after reading her stories, you’re forever connected to the characters she creates and wish you could meet these people in real life. Redeeming Love was also the first Christian Fiction book I read back when I was in college. I remember my friend Lindsay, from one of my Comm classes during my freshman year (folks, I never remember details, so the fact that I remember the class, the friend and the year should tell you something ;), gave me her copy to borrow and I had the chance to read it over Thanksgiving and I devoured that sucker in about two minutes flat.

Please, read this book if you haven’t yet (which I need to point out that every monthly top seller list Lifeway releases, Redeeming Love is on it. I jest not. And it’s nearly 25 years old. In May, Francine Rivers not only had her latest (which was fantastic, see my review here), but Redeeming Love as well. P.S. IT HAS IT’S OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. Need I say more?

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam | Huynh Quang Nhuong: This is one of the first books I vividly remember reading. I read through it so many times, I’ve lost count. Since growing up in Vietnam was so vastly different from growing up in my parent’s house in Orange County, California, I was so fascinated by this man’s life. Every time I read this book I wanted to do one thing: Go on an epic adventure. If my mom ever asks why I’m always fixin to do something crazy, it’s because I grew up on stories like these. It was also my Mama who gave it to me 🙂

Fire By Night | Lynn Austin: Sigh….just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it. I think I might too. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered Dr. McGrath and Julia, so I think this summer I might change that. Not only do I love Julia’s character (and connect with her), I adore Dr. McGrath. The whole series is enjoyable, but this one shines far greater than the other two. Plus it’s Civil War (and still my favorite Civil War fiction novel), so win with that.

The Giver | Lois Lowry: I’ve talked about this one the blog enough, so I’ll keep it short. Without pain, one would never know the true depth of happiness, beauty and love. Lowry so beautifully captures this. Plus it’s coming out in the movies soon!!

The Harry Potter Series | J.K. Rowling: Duh.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee: This was one of those books I actually liked in high school and understood at the age of 16 why it was such an important piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, it’s an amazing story and Atticus Finch is one of the all-time greatest heroes in literature.

You might be wondering about the books I talk about every 27 seconds and why they aren’t on this list. Well, I figured it was a given that anything Narnia/Lewis or Middle Earth/Tolkien related are in their own category of greatest all-time anything. I mean, I have a monthly series about them internet, so of course they are my favorite of favorites. (If you want to join in The Inklings series, check it out here)

Alright, there’s the fiction list! I feel I can breathe a little easier now ;). What do you think? What are some of your favorites to add?