So, mixing Justin Taylor's "novels every Christian should consider reading" with the "top ten influential books" list I put forward my, "Top Ten List of Novels that every U.S. (and, to be honest, specifically white, middle class) Christian Should Read."
Why this list?
Our top ten lists and choices of novels often reinforce our own philosophies and voices. This isn't horrible per se, but when we only we read what we like or what confirms our biases we are never challenged to think beyond our current worldview. That can be dangerous. One of my favorite aspects of the top ten lists people are posting on Facebook is that many of the novels they list came from their high school or college reading lists. There's a reason for this, someone told you to read this book because they thought it might challenge you. At its best, literature cracks us open, challenges us, and provokes us to discover and be confronted by strange new worlds or by deconstructing comfortable, familiar ones.
Therefore, This list is predominated by what some call "subaltern" voices, or "the little voices of history." These voices are post-colonial and come from often marginalized authors or, at the least, are written from their perspective. Basically, this list presents pieces of fiction that should shake up and disturb comfortable, middle-class, suburban, caucasian, Christians...not to mention many others. We need this if we wish to continue to interact with the new power centers of Christianity in the "the Global South" (Africa, Asia, and Latin America). We have to face that we are not the hegemonic power we once were and deconstruct our neocolonial thought patterns, ministry actions, academic exercises, methodologies, and mission emphases -- no matter how well intentioned. These novels will help us to see from this perspective, albeit limitedly. They are meant to humble us.
TEN NOVELS EVERY U.S. CHRISTIAN SHOULD READ:
1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison -- This is the story of a young, naïve African-American man in the U.S. South who explores his own black identity and racism through experiences in college, with the Communist Party, through riots, and under the streets of Harlem. There, in darkness and solitude he finally begins to understand himself -- his invisibility, and his identity. Why read it? Invisible Man challenges us to consider marginal, invisible, voices and confronts us to consider stereotypes, racism, and subjugating and radicalizing social forces in the U.S. No surprise, I read it in a high school literature class. Thanks Mrs. Kelly.