In 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.
Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.
We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.
This week’s post in the series is by Rachel Marie Stone.
Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ #5 (Last Week) – Jen Pollock Michel ]
Rachel Marie Stone is the author of Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food, just out from InterVarsity Press. She’s also the author of a book about Jesus for children with the working title God’s Upside-Down Kingdom, forthcoming from Olive Branch Books this year. Her writing appears in places like Christianity Today, Sojourners, Books & Culture, The Huffington Post, The Christian Century, RELEVANT, Catapult, The Suffolk Times, PRISM, The Progressive Christian, Creation Care Magazine, and Flourish Magazine. She’s a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s popular women’s blog, Her.meneutics, and tweets @rachel_m_stone.
The Minister’s Wooing
By Harriet Beecher Stowe
This novel deserves to be more popularly known and celebrated. Set in late 18th century New England, and peopled by characters both fictional and historical (including Jonathan Edwards’ notorious grandson Aaron Burr), it examines the differences in how men and women experience American religion while challenging, in a quiet way, the power of a male-dominated clergy and religious establishment. (There’s a racially problematic–but nonetheless compelling–scene in which a black servant comforts a bereaved mother with a radically incarnated picture of Jesus’ love.) Besides all that, it’s a compelling story of romance, loss, redemption and selflessness in which, remarkably, even the most stock characters escape being caricatures.
The Pearl of Orr’s Island
By Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe’s most comprehensive biographer laments that if Stowe’s private life had been less complicated–and pressures from her public fame in the wake of Uncle Tom’s Cabin had been lessened–The Pearl of Orr’s Island might well have been a masterpiece. Similar in many ways to The Minister’s Wooing, the novel explores, once again, some of Stowe’s favorite social and theological questions, such as the nature of ‘true’ womanhood, the doctrine of election, the experience of faith, and the place of doubt. And once again, it has some romance novel appeal. While she doesn’t quite avoid a few tired plot devices and stock characters, she tells a story that I return to with pleasure.