Mark Twain once said that a classic was “something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” I guess English teachers were assigning some pretty dry reading in his day, too. It’s a rare student who can say they never met a classic they didn’t love, but there are some exceptions to Mr. Twain’s rule.
Hollywood knows how to tap into a good story, and that’s why there are movie versions of Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca, Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, and more recently, Jane Eyre, to name a few. These may or may not be in your to-be-read pile, but seeing the movie often inspires me to read the book, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one.
Just what gets a book pegged with the dry moniker of ‘a classic’? I did some sleuthing, and the general consensus is that classics all share these traits:
- Authentic storylines and plots that reflect social issues of the time
- Idealistic characters. In the end, the good guys win.
- Language that is intricate
- A moral lesson
- Longevity. Their popularity doesn’t diminish over time.
Christian fiction classics go a step further, having the ability to propel readers farther than simple messages of morality or social change can take them, to where they profoundly impact our patterns of thinking on a spiritual level.
If you did an online search of Christian classics, you would find some classics that are not labeled as Christian fiction but are steeped in Christian values, nonetheless. I’m thinking of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, for example. Great, wholesome entertainment that sticks to your literary ribs.
But a Christian fiction classic is poised to help the reader go the step further, books like C.S Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia, Catherine Marshall’s Christy, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and Lloyd C. Douglas’ The Robe. These classics have profoundly impacted me over the years. Others by Graham Greene and Flannery O’Connor have left their imprints on me, as well. There are, of course, many excellent Christian fiction books out there – many of them destined to become classics - but I mention these in particular because they are older and have withstood the test of time. It will be interesting to note which ones will make the grade 20 years from now. I predict that Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love will make the list.
What have you read recently that changed you in some way and that you feel strongly will be a future classic?