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TCW's Fiction Reading List

22 editorial picks to add to your summer reading list


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Wilder Publications, March 2009)

Jane Eyre is a small, intelligent, and passionate English orphan abused by her aunt and cousin. Though the charity school she attends treats her harshly, she is determined to rise above the cruelty of others as she embarks on a quest for love and freedom.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (Washington Square Press, September 2004)

Set in rural China during the last reigning dynasty, this story about a peasant farmer and his wife transcends its cultural and historical context with potency that earned it the 1932 Pulitzer Prize.

Inspiring Allegories

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (Multnoma Books, May 1997)

This historical romance novel is an allegory for the book of Hosea. It tells the story of God's redemption, and takes place during the 1850s where a girl named Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal after she is sold into prostitution as a child. She marries a man who obeys God's call to love her unconditionally, but soon falls back into her old pattern of fear and runs away before learning her healing needs to come from God.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis (Harcourt Brace & Company, July 1980)

In one of C.S. Lewis's great allegories, he takes inspiration from Greek mythology to construct a story that deals with everything from the familiar issues of family, gender, and faith to abstractions on love and ultimate meaning. Though the plot follows the mythological characters of Cupid and Psyche, you may be surprised by how much of yourself you find in this thoughtful work.

Survival Stories

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Back Bay Books, September 2009)

In this memorable collection of short stories, Akpan gives a voice to the struggles, tragedies, and horrors that currently affect children throughout Africa. From a little girl in Rwanda who struggles to maintain normalcy amid violence to an urban Kenyan family passionately gathering gifts for the Christmas holiday, Akpan exposes themes of religion, slavery, poverty, and racial tension that characterize the lives of so many children today.

What is the What by David Eggers (Vintage, October 2007)

This fictional memoir tells the story of a Sudanese refugee during the civil war of the 1980s and 90s. His life represents the experiences of millions who suffered in the terror and heartache of a country that has been wracked by war for decades. Eggers seamlessly laces his humor and lyricism into this story of survival and resilience.

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (Scribner, April 2012)

This novel traces the lives of four women in ancient Judea and the bloody Roman invasion that almost killed their entire village. Based on a historical event, this imaginative novel breathes life into a time and place that has surprising similarities to our own.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon; First Edition, November 2005)

This uplifting story is about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's number one lady detective. Ramotswe navigates her cases with her personal life, wisdom, and humor. Although she is used to finding missing people, the search for one young boy may put her own life at risk.

The Paris Wife by Paula McCain (Ballantine Books, November 2012)

Enter the glamorous life of Ernest Hemingway, one of literature's biggest names, through the eyes of his wife: Hadley Richardson. This piece of historical fiction begins in 1920s Chicago, and follows Hadley's life as she meets and marries Ernest and joins the wild ride of Paris in its literary heyday.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Random House Trade Paperbacks, March 2011).

A Dutch trader named Jacob de Zoet is trying to make a fortune near Nagasaki to win the hand of his lover, Anna, who is back in Holland. Jacob finds himself surrounded with devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and an encounter with a new woman which obscures his original intentions.

On Family

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Vintage Books, January 2010)

Two twin brothers of Addis Ababa are born of a secret union, but are orphaned by their mother's death and father's disappearance. The story follows their journey of betrayal and love as the brothers both share a love for medicine—and for the same woman.

That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon (Revell, June 2013)

Estranged sisters Karen and Val find themselves reunited in their hometown after their mother suffers a stroke. As their lives collide, they embark upon mending their broken relationship with the healing power of faith and forgiveness.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, May 2013)

From the author of The Kite Runner comes a realistic novel of love, change, loss, and a family that endures. This book follows families from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco, and draws up a portrait of what it means to be human in a changing world.

Explorations of Life and Faith

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Picador, January 2006)

Written as a series of letters from a dying father to his young son, this book is full of meditations on life, faith, and parenthood. It asks how one may live well in modern-day America, especially as part of the contemporary church.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2007)

O'Connor spares no punches in this grotesque satire of American secularism and humanism. Through her desperately flawed character Hazel Motes, she explores themes of free will, redemption, and original sin in this tale that centers on the reality of grace in all its gritty wonder.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (Penguin Books, February 1996).

This story is part one of an extensive book series that takes place in Mitford, North Carolina, where local parish pastor Father Tim is at a crossroads and wants more out of life. He ends up discovering that a dog the size of a sofa, an attractive neighbor, a jewel theft, and a 60-year-old secret may be more than he bargained for.

On Motherhood

Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin (St. Martin's Griffin, March 2011)

This novel about marriage and motherhood brings two women together who live in the same suburb but have completely different lives. They have little in common except for a strong love for their children. After a tragic accident happens, their lives mesh in a way they could have never imagined, and they discover what truly matters most.

Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream (2-book series) by Francine Rivers (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. March 2011 and August 2011)

This two-book series explores the relationship between mothers and daughters. Her Mother's Hope takes place during World War II, where Marta hopes to give her children a better life by moving across the country. After tragedy strikes, Marta's relationship to her oldest daughter, Hildie, is threatened with something that may separate them forever. Her Daughter's Dream continues the story of the family saga. Hildie's daughter grows up in the Cold War era where another tragedy shatters her connection to her family. After cutting ties with her family for two years, she returns and hopes to rebuild a life for her and her own daughter. This series is an emotional reminder of the unconditional love mothers have for their daughters.

On Friendship

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown (IVP Books, March 2011)

This is the story of four women who meet at a retreat and go from a spiritual journey of isolation to a journey of mutual support and personal revelation. The spiritual practices of these women also help the reader to find a deeper relationship with God.

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett (Tyndale House Publishers, February 2010)

Four American women have their lives completely transformed after they embark on a mission trip to South Africa with selfish intentions. After being overcome by the impact of the AIDS epidemic, they begin to see their lives in a new light, and find a special connection with the local women through the traditional craft of beadwork.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, January 2006)

In stunning lyrical prose, Hurston tells a story of female bonding, identity, and empowerment through the life of Janie Crawford, a black Southern woman living in the 1930s.

If you missed TCW's nonfiction picks, read them at this link.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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