There are few things I love as much as getting lost in a great book. When a story is so good it keeps me up late, desperate to find out what happens next, I'm a happy woman. Every so often, I come across a book that just grabs me and won't let go. These are the books I recommend to everyone, the books I can't stop thinking about long after the last page, the ones I could read over and over again.
These five books are fantastic. Many are award winners and bestsellers, so I'm not alone in my opinions of them. If you're looking for your next great read, check out one of these titles.
1. The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
I read and loved Julie's first two books, Into the Free and When Mountains Move. She did a great job in these two historicals dealing with really tough topics, but nothing could prepare me for her first contemporary novel, The Feathered Bone. It deals with incredibly hard topics with gut wrenching reality and incredible hope. It's been over a year since I read this book and I still think of it often.
Be warned - this is not a light read. There were times I was so overwhelmed I had to put the book down for a little while and process what happened. But this is one of the most heartbreaking, beautiful, hopeful books I've ever read. It's a must read. Just keep the tissues handy.
2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
I read Redeeming Love more than twenty years ago, when the Christian fiction book market was still young. It pushed the limits back then. I remember thinking how different this book was from everything else in the Christian market at the time. Now it's considered a classic of Christian fiction.
This book deals with some of the same topics as The Feathered Bone. The retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, set in the American West, is also a heavy read, but the ending makes it all worthwhile.
3. Long Way Gone by Charles Martin
Charles Martin's name kept popping up for months - in Facebook groups, on Instagram, on friends Goodreads lists. When I read Long Way Gone, I realized why. Not only is the story incredible, but the writing style is one of the most beautiful I've ever read. I wanted to get to know these characters, to sit down and have coffee with them. Based on the parable of the prodigal son, Long Way Gone made me cry more than once, but there's still that strong theme of hope in the darkness that I love so much.
4. The Martyr's Song by Ted Dekker
Mention Ted Dekker's name and you'll probably get a strong reaction. People either love his books or hate them. I personally love them, especially his mysteries. But The Martyr's Song is unlike any of his other books. This short book is so powerful. Set in a small town in WWII, it tells the story of two people facing death for their faith in God. As they face the unimaginable, God reveals tiny hints of what they will soon see as they make the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. Though the story is very dark, it's laced with the incredible hope we have because this world isn't the end. Every Christian should read this one.
5. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
The only nonfiction book on my list, Same Kind of Different as Me tells such an amazing true story that it reads as well as any novel. The last line is one of my favorite quotes ever. You'll look at life, friendship, homelessness, and more so differently after reading this. Read it before you see the movie--it just came out on DVD a few weeks ago.
I'm always looking for my next favorite book. What do you find yourself recommending to everyone?