Four Fiction Book Series I Have Read Over and Over
I've never been able to decide what I love more, reading, or writing. But I can tell you I've spent a hundred-fold more hours reading in my lifetime, so I guess that's my answer. When I was a kid I read all the Nancy Drew books, Hardy Boys, Dr. Seuss, etc. But I mostly read individual books of fiction or biographies. When I became an adult, I rarely read a series. But I have read book series a lot the last 10 years, and I have some favorites that I've read again and again. I'd like to share them with you, and I'll bet you are familiar with some of them.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This brilliant work by C.S. Lewis is among the greatest classic book series of all time, and beloved by children and adults alike for many years.
Strange Characters and Lands
The land of Narnia is a magical world where the Great Lion, Aslan, who is High King over all high kings, and Lord and Creator of Narnia, lives and rules. Although not in every book, four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are the central characters throughout the series. They become queens and kings of Narnia and fight battles under the guidance of Aslan, and the many Narnian heroes he sends along their way. The books are filled with strange and endearing creatures, like Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who shelter the children and tell them about Narnia, Alsan, and Queen Jadis, the White Witch; Mr. Tumnus, a Faun who saves Lucy from the White Witch; Reepicheep, the Chief Mouse of Narnia, a fearless, courageous, creature who is a skilled fighter with his Rapier. There are hundreds of creatures, giants, fauns, dwarfs, witches, and even a few humans, good and evil. The only negative thing I can say about the characters is there are so many, it's difficult sometimes to remember who is who.
There is no end to discovery, adventure, heroism, evil, battles and wars, and yes, magic. I find the Narnia series to be spell binding. I cannot put any of the Narnia books down once I sit down and open it up. I have read the series at this point about four times, and I plan to read them many more.
Lewis brilliantly takes his readers to lands, seas and forests, fortresses, dungeons, dark realms of evil, and brilliant, colorful, indescribable places, which somehow, only he has the skill and imagination to describe.
The Chronicles of Narnia are not just tales of fantasy, but there are spiritual messages and characters woven through the series. Most notable is Aslan, the High King of all high kings, and Lord and Creator of Narnia, who is a type of Christ.
The Chronicles of Narnia Seven books in order are:
- The Magicians Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis was a strangely, versatile writer. He wrote many intellectual works on Christianity. Mere Christianity, one of his best and most read intellectual writings on Christianity, was a masterpiece of skillful and persuasive use of the tools of reason, logic, and the Scriptures. While being a great intellectual communicator, Lewis was at the same time, a brilliant fantasy writer with an imagination that knew no end. The combination of being such an intellect, and also a man of great imagination was a rare gift. Being able to think, reason, and imagine to the stratosphere that he did was impressive in and of itself, but to be able to communicate it so beautifully and skillfully takes his fan's breath away.
The A.D. Chronicle Series by Brock and Bodie Thoene
The A.D. Chronicles take readers back to first century Israel. The political climate was hot and tense. The High Priest Caiaphas, ruler of the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, and Herod Antipas, were continuously vying for power. Rome ruled and occupied Israel with tryanny and contempt. Amidst of the tumult of this time, comes a young rebel healer and preacher, Yeshua bar Joseph of Nazereth, leader of a band of commoners, spreading a message of love, forgiveness, repentance, and the Kingdom of God. Caiaphas, his cohorts on the High Council, and all the political and religious leaders of the day were jealous, and felt threatened by Yeshua's popularity. They made it their responsibility to discredit, harass, and ultimately kill him.
The A.D. Chronicles bring to life the characters of the Bible who were healed or touched by Yeshua in some way. Peniel, the blind beggar of Nicanor gate, is healed by Yeshua after a lifetime of blindness, rejection, and abuse by society and family. He receives more than just his sight, however. He also receives the healing of a broken heart, and a newfound purpose and joy in life. Yeshua becomes a friend and Rabbi, the only man he has ever been able to trust.
Zadok, the one-eyed Chief Shepherd of the flocks of Jerusalem sees his three adopted sons healed, and finds a rich and abiding relationship with Yeshua. He spreads the message of Yeshua wherever he goes, and risks and loses much to follow him.
Manaen bar Talmai and his beloved Susannah face one obstacle after another in being able to marry; so much so that he is blinded by his bullying and jealous brother and put in prison. Yeshua works in a mighty way for Manaen, who spends the rest of his life in service to Yeshua.
Throughout the book series, we are introduced to a variety of other Bible characters and groups, in which the author's Brock and Bodie Thoene depict with authenticity and believability. The Thoene's take few liberties with these stories, other putting names to some of the nameless in the Bible, and perhaps little background of their life. But the central biblical message remains strong and true, without compromise or deviation.
A.D. Chronicles Series Books in Order:
- First Light
- Second Touch
- Third Watch
- Fourth Dawn
- Fifth Seal
- Sixth Covenant
- Seventh Day
- Eighth Shepherd
- Ninth Witness
- Tenth Stone
- Eleventh Quest
Brock and Bodie Thoene - Author's and Historians
Brock Thoene, a Christian of Jewish heritage, is a brilliant historian and does all the extensive research for their novels. Bodie, his wife, does all the writing, skillfully weaving the historical research into her into a tapestry of biblical stories. The Thoene's have won several literary awards for their many book series. Some of their other book series are the "Zion Legacy" series, "Zion Chronicles" series, and the "Zion Covenant" series, all three brilliant and historically accurate book series. I highly recommend them.
The Mitford Series by Jan Karon
This endearing series is beloved by readers everywhere. And speaking of endearing, the characters in this series are truly delightful and draw you heart and soul into their lives, and you will fall in love with them over and over again.
The Mitford series takes place in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tiny, quaint, and full of charm, Mitford feels homey and familiar. Father Tim, a middle-aged, Episcopalian rector, lives a comfortable life in Mitford, faithfully and lovingly shepherding his flock. But something is missing in his life and he struggles to find his way. Enter Barnabus, a large, black, stray, mixed-breed dog who takes to stalking Father Tim, enthusiastically seeking to win Father Tim's affection. It works, and Barnabus has a new home. Not only is he friendly, but when he gets overly excited, he calms down when Father Tim quotes Scripture.
If that weren't enough, along comes Dooley Barlowe, a dirty, crude, mountain boy who needs some love and a home. Thus, Father Tim becomes a father as well. While all this is going on, Cynthia Coppersmith moves in next door with her white, cat, Violet. Father Tim and Ms. Coppersmith become smitten and soon there are wedding bells. Life, as he once knew it, would never be the same, but that's okay with him.
Life in Mitford is not all sugar and spice. There is evil lurking in the backwoods, and Father Tim is thrust into their lives, seeking to find Dooley's siblings and parents. Along with that, Father Tim is continually vesting his time and heart into the lives of his community and congregation friends. He weeps with those who weep in tragedy, and rejoices with those who rejoice in triumph. Readers will too. I wish all could have a pastor and friend as loving, encouraging, and faithful as Father Tim.
The events that rock the world of Father Tim and friends and family, are serious; domestic violence, alcoholism, crime, death and loss, child neglect and abuse. There are joyous times as well; marriages, births, new community projects (such as a hospital, restaurant), the growing up and refining of Dooley, and the finding of his mother and siblings. Father Tim finds solace in his beloved Cynthia, poetry, and gardening, when he needs peace and quiet for rest and reflection.
The Mitford Series Books in Order:
- At Home in Mitford
- A Light in the Window
- These High Green Hills
- Out to Caanan
- A New Song
- A Common Life
- In This Mountain
- Shepherds Abiding
- A Light from Heaven
Author Jan Karon
Ms. Karon herself lives in a small hamlet in North Carolina called Blowing Rock, coincidentally (or not) also nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. No doubt, this setting and her life in this little town gave her much material for her book. Karon was once an advertising executive, but from a young age wanted to write a novel. Looks like she got her chance, and what a job she's done. Ms Karon, thank you for this enchanting, heart-warming, and delightful series.
Which of these book series would you be most like to read?
Miss Julia Series by Ann B. Ross
The refined, southern, lady of a certain age, Miss Julia Springer has lived a dull life in Abbotsvile, North Carolina, dutifully being a proper lady and wife to her husband, Wesley Lloyd Springer. Her closest friend is Lillian, her black maid, to whom she confides in. Lillian has a heart of gold, but boldly tells Miss Julia where she's going wrong.
The series starts with Miss Julia having recently been widowed and finding out that her boring, frugal, rather controlling, and indifferent husband was a very rich man. Upon his demise, she finds out he owns half of Abbotsville and beyond. Understandably, she is angry and embarrassed to have found this out after 40 years of marriage; however, after the sudden realization that she will never have to worry about money again, she is soon feeling a sense of freedom.
Then, yet another and much worse, unthinkable, surprise shatters her world, or so she thinks, and her life takes a very strange, almost bizarre twist. Miss Hazel Marie Puckett, a blonde, 40-something bombshell, and her small son Wesley Lloyd appear on Miss Julia's doorstep one day. Miss Puckett informs her that this child is her deceased husband's offspring, and since he left his son and Miss Puckett nary a dime, she leaves little Wesley Lloyed Springer Jr. on Miss Julia's doorstep while she goes to a nearby city to get some job training. Miss Julia is horrified of course, and rattled to the bone that little Wesley Lloyd is a scrawny, exact image of her dead husband. In light of all of this, Miss Julia is none too kind or sympathetic to the boy, and seeks to have his Mama found and brought back to take care of her own son. Worst of all, Miss Julia finds out that everyone has known about her husband's wealth and philandering for years. When Hazel Marie is found through a series of events, she and little Wesley Lloyd become part of the household of Julia Springer. One, big, happy family.
Little Wesley Lloyd's name is soon shortened to little Lloyd, and he becomes the apple of Miss Julia's eye. Miss Julia takes Hazel Marie under her wing and teaches her about fine, southern manners and etiquette, and takes them to the Presbyterian church across the street for some much needed religious instruction. However, as Miss Julia is always at odds with Pastor Larry Ledbetter, things can get kind of tumultuous. Miss Julia, Hazel Marie, and little Lloyd find evidence that the late Mr. Springer left everything to little Lloyd. Miss Julia's handsome, amorous, former, attorney friend, Sam Murdoch, informs her that because of certain laws of the state, she is able to keep half of the money and estate. But trial after trial assaults the Springer/Puckett family, and uncharacteristically, Miss Julia finds herself entrenched in adventures she never would have imagined.
The rest of the series we see one mystery after another come upon Miss Julia, her family, or her friends, and in all her anxiety about it, she takes it upon her self to solve them all. Although a staunch and faithful Presbyterian, she is not reluctant to lie and gossip to find answers and solutions the stressful trials that test her. Miss Julia is hilarious. I find myself laughing out loud, deep belly laughs, at the things she and Lillian say and do. With Miss Julia being a bit crochety and prudish, Sam Murdoch has his work cut out for him convincing Miss Julia to be his girl. You will have to read what happens on your own.
The Miss Julia series is not a literary masterpiece or classic work by any stretch of the imagination. Nor do I believe Ms. Ross intended it to be. This is light, fun, imperfect storytelling, and it is utterly delightful.
Miss Julia Series books in Order:
- Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
- Miss Julia Takes Over
- Miss Julia Throws a Wedding
- Miss Julia Hits the Road
- Miss Julia Meets Her Match
- Miss Julia's School of Beauty
- Miss Julia Stands Her Ground
- Miss Julia Strikes Back
- Miss Julia Paints the Town
- Miss Julia Delivers the Goods
- Miss Julia Renews her Vows
- Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle
- Miss Julia to the Rescue
Ann B. Ross
Ann B. Ross holds a doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and has taught literature at UNC, Asheville.
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© 2012 Lori Colbo