The weekly Booking Through Thursday question for today is:
Suggested by Janet:
The opposite of last week’s question: “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”
I’ve been pondering this question for the last hour or so while going about my morning routine. I can’t think of anything recent, though there might be something not coming to mind. I don’t really choose books based on what the general public or professional reviews say, but I do like to read reviews and recommendations of people I know to some degree.
In that vein, I’ve been surprised to see through various book challenges and memes that a lot of people don’t like Dickens. I love Dickens. His were some of the first classics I read as an adult. I recently saw David Copperfield describes as somewhat vapidly standing still while all the action happened around him. I was shocked. To me David Copperfield is all about character development. Here is a child starting out with several strikes against him — his father dies before he is born, his mother marries the cold, hard, authoritarian Mr. Murdstone who eventually sends David away, he faces cruelty at boarding school and a brief stint in factory work, his mother dies — he could have turned into a criminal, a “victim,” or a hard and bitter man, yet he becomes a man of character and decency. In fact, he is one of the few normal people in the book amidst the almost caricatural Micawber, Uriah Heep, and Aunt Betsey Trotwood.
I’ve also been surprised to discover that a lot of Christian women don’t like Janette Oke, and the term “prairie romances,” which I think must be aimed at her work since her first series (Love Comes Softly) and many of her other books took place on the prairie, used derogatorily. (I don’t know why we can say a certain genre just doesn’t appeal to us without having to be negative about it). Though I had read Not My Will by Francena Arnold and a couple of Eugenia Price books beforehand, my love of Christian fiction began with Mrs. Oke. Her books weren’t just simple stories to me, or even “romances” — there were illustrations of spiritual truth fleshed out in both the crises and the everyday lives of her characters. To me that’s what the best of Christian fiction does.
Some time I’d love to revisit both Dickens and some of Janette Oke’s earlier works to see if they still speak to me as they did years ago. I think they would: I think that’s what defines a classic.
If you like, you can visit the Booking Through Thursday site to see what others thought about this question.
(Updated to add: since I mentioned Janette Oke, I thought some might be interested in reading about author Kim Vogel Sawyer meeting Janette at the Christian Book Expo here.)