My friend Becky has invited me to join her "blog carnival" to recommend Christian books and authors to read. The focus was on fiction but recently I have been reading a non fiction book that I highly recommend called "Hope Rising--Stories from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams" by Kim Meeder. The author and her husband run a ranch to rescue abused and/or neglected horses in Bend, Oregon. Their program also ministers to children who have suffered neglect and abuse. When the horses and children are put together beautiful stories of healing and hope emerge.
As far as Christian authors who write quality fiction, Becky is right, there are slim pickings. There are far too many cheesy, mediocre "christian" novels out there that frankly aren't worth the time you take to read them. That may sound harsh but I think the publishing companies need to raise their standards. The authors I return to again and again for entertainment, comfort, and hope are C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), Catherine Marshall (Christy, Julie), Jan Karon (The Mitford Series), Brock & Bodie Thoene (historical fiction), and Francine Rivers (also historical fiction).
Other favorites (not necessarily Christian)--
At the top of my list of course, the classics by Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, etc.) & L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables).
I still prefer to read what is considered "Young Adult" fiction. I truly believe that the best fiction is written for kids not adults. I'm not sure exactly what that says about me! Perhaps that I am still a kid at heart. I love fairy tales, sci-fi/fantasy and historical fiction. I enjoy escaping into a completely different world and seeing it through the eyes of children who have hope and an adventurous spirit. I relate so strongly to the coming of age stories in which the character who initially lacks opportunity or self confidence transforms into the hero. I think that type of story probably appeals to many of us because we all want to feel unique and special in some way. The ultimate example of this story is the one we live out when we embrace the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. How glorious is it to find that you are special and beloved, daughter of the Lord of all creation, the most High King. To know that you were beautifully and wonderfully made and though the rest of the world may not see your value and never care, you will always matter to the one who made you. God is the ultimate storyteller and his works of art are each one of us.
A few of my favorites are Madeline L'Engle (A Wrinkle In Time), J.K. Rowling (please don't send me hate mail if you think Harry Potter is evil ;0), Shannon Hale (Goose Girl & Princess Academy), Karen Cushman (Catherine Called Birdie & The Midwife's Apprentice), I could go on and on...someone please stop me!
Bottom line, I LOVE to read and I wish I had more time to do it!
I'm looking forward to seeing what others recommend!