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What makes a book catch on?

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Connolly (tpc2rn) | 1 comments Wayward Son

I read this book a few months ago and wonder why there isn't much more buzz about it. It then goes to a more general question, which is "What makes a book catch fire?" (I know, but aside from matches). What made the Narnia series from CS Lewis become timeless, while other books fall flat? I know it is the writing, but I found Wayward Son, for example, to be quite unique, fun, and well written. If you haven't read it, it takes the reader through the beginning of Genesis through several ages and Biblical stories, and includes another plot set in our own time. It did what I wanted in a Christian novel, it brought me into a wonderful world of intrigue, was clean, God-centered, and worked in familiar stories with a twist that remained positive to my faith. I did admit in my own review for LibraryThing that Wayward Son was not deep Theology, but it is a wonderful novel.

So, what is it that really gets you excited about a Christian novel? Are you a fan of the classics of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien? Did you read all of the "Left Behind" series? Do you read every Amish tale that comes along (my Mom loves these)? Is there an author or series that you tell everyone about? I'd like to know what really brings people to the pages. Thanks.


message 2: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 47 comments To me, a good Christian novel has to affirm the faith, but not necessarily from it's opening. For instance, in the opening to Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days had Rayford misbehaving with Hatti (but not quite going over the line). The rest of the book illustrated his growth as a Christian. From there on, the series is about the struggle between "good and evil".

The whole idea is the same "formula" you have for a lot of good fiction, a flawed protagonist who "grows" as a result of the stresses he experiences.

This does not necessarily mean that all Christian novels have to start with an unbeliever. Even believers can grow in their faith or confidence. For instance, in The Master's Reliquary: The Man of Signs, Brother Brude is low man on the totem pole in a mission from ancient Ireland into what will eventually be Scotland. Much of the story revolves around Brude's discovery of his true heritage and his eventual (ooops, no spoilers allowed -- sorry about that). Let's just say, he "grows".

Third situation: People who are already strong in faith, but have to deal with surrounding circumstances.

All of these basic plots can make a good, basically Christian novel.
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Now, we can wander off the reservation a bit to the "fringe" Christian stuff if we want. For instance, a more "mainstream" novel populated with Christian and non-Christians. The main theme doesn't have to be faith, but more mundane plots, such as war, love, politics, etc.

Does anyone have a "take" on the fringe works? Examples?


message 3: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) Tom wrote: "Wayward Son

I read this book a few months ago and wonder why there isn't much more buzz about it. It then goes to a more general question, which is "What makes a book catch fire..."


I read the first 3 books of "Left Behind" Series. I read C.S. Lewis children series that is now into motion pictures and loved the ones I read up to Prince Caspian. I also read his 3-book series, apocalyptic thrillers but read more fantasy to me. Yet, it inspired me to read these books from all the series mentioned to write my own apocalyptic thriller series called "Miss the Mark" that hopefully will be out soon. May do ebook series first. I have not read "Lord of the Rings" but enjoyed the motion picture of these series. I heard these authors were colleagues and friends: C.S. Lewis and J.R. including the one who did the "Golden..." series who is an atheist. Sorry can't recall the name of the motion picture right now.

I'll check out this book read too.


message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen I have read the Left Behind series 3 times and will probably do them several more times. they are my favorite Christian books. To me they mingle strong Christian belief with a thrilling accent and doctrine. I am reading a book now which I purchased at a Christian bookstore which is supposed to be a Christian author. I can hardly put the book down. the book is clean, but it hardly seems Christian and it is extremely violent. More so than some secular mysteries I have read and I do not even know whether I should put it on here. (see another thread I started on books offending other Christians.) The consensuses was divided pretty much on what a Christian should read and your testimony before other believers. This book is very exciting, but I do not know if it is really God glorifying?
My kids like Narnia, but I do not like fantasy at all and do not know why those books are so popular. Do not care for them and find them rather occultic, but at the same time they can be made Biblical and my daughter seems to get help with her walk with God through them.
I loved Francine Rivers: "Mark of the Lion" series and have read them 3 times. They were a great Spiritual effect on my daughter and I, but met a guy that read them through 9 times and is living what I would call a real unrighteous testimony before the world.
Just some thoughts that kind of go with your topic I hope.


message 5: by Al "Tank" (last edited Jun 30, 2011 09:10AM) (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 47 comments Karen wrote: "My kids like Narnia, but I do not like fantasy at all and do not know why those books are so popular. Do not care for them and find them rather occultic, but at the same time they can be made Biblical ..."

Actually, Narnia was written as a Christian allegory. The Lion (Aslan) is the Christ figure who gives his life to save others, but rises again. I suspect that Lewis got the idea from one of Christ's titles, "Lion of Judah". The Ice Queen is obviously Satan who tempts one of the children through one of his weaknesses over to her side and uses him as her minion. He is "saved" and his eyes opened in the end.

Much more has been written about the series and if you're interested, I'm sure you can find more than I'll ever know about the series. Our pastor actually uses passages from the Narnia series and Lewis' Screwtape Letters in some of his sermons.


message 6: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) I read most of the stories and want to purchase the series. I never found it occultist except when I tried to read Harry Potter and never finished a book yet. However many parents (adults) are reading it as much or more than the children. Same with Twilight Series; however, I agree with Al. I cried when I saw the first motion picture when he died and came back alive again, I also thought of crucifixion of Christ and rose again three days later, also the woman as demonic force or Satan too.


message 7: by Karen (new)

Karen I thought so also on watching the first Narnia movies. I have just delved into some of the background of C.S. Lewis and studied it. Also websites explaining the symbolism in the books and where occult is in them. I have studied the other side also telling the biblical allegory parts so I cannot really decide either way. Lots of time people just make decisions on their own bent so everyone must be full persuaded in their own mind. There can be fallacy either way. My kids have read them and like them and I just try to guide them in seeing them from a Christian perspective.
It is like ccm music. I cut my spiritual teeth on it. It cut me away from the world's music and I have liberty plus really get spiritual help from it whereas some friend from the camp I am in think that I am listen to Satan's music.I try not to go there with them and that subject. If they perceive it as evil they should not listen, but God blesses me in it. Sometimes hard to get the balance on certain things.


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 30, 2011 05:13PM) (new)

A book catches on because it touches something inside an individual, whether it's a personal struggle they can relate to, similar circumstances or a character that reminds them of themselves. It can take on different forms.

However, with movies and television the personal aspect of a book becomes public and multipled in effect when put on the screen. The vivid pictures one sees of someone else's interpretation becomes imbedded and overrides the reader's original imagination of the scene, place or character's physical appearance. This is where one has to be careful in judging what is being shown - it is someone's interpretation, and it doesn't always mesh with the viewing audience.

As a screenwriter and author, I can tell you adaptations of books rarely stay anywhere near the original story. Some books can translate well from book to screen, others not, especially those that are complex - Lord Of The Rings, or those heavy with symbolism - Narnia.

You're right, Karen, if a weaker brother or sister or kids perceive something as evil, then don't force them. We each mature in our Christian walk at different rates.


message 9: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) Weaker concepts, read Romans 14. This helped me.


message 10: by Karen (new)

Karen Good take on it Shawn and that is right Adrienna.


message 11: by Mickey (new)

Mickey Mullen (mrmullenvcncom) | 614 comments A book that catches on is fiction a christian book store threatened to call the police if I didn't leave and all I asked Him to do was stock my nonfiction religious book.

In the "left behind" fiction books I never read any of them but does any of them mention anything about how a person becomes saved and live with God in his kingdom. If they don't mention that, tell me a reason to read any fiction books.

Jesus spoke in parables and that is why people write fiction they don't have a clue what the parables mean but some day it will end as it did in Noah's day. Will there be more than eight people saved? Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because there were not ten that was righteous, they were probably all reading fiction.


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