Several months ago, I began a search for novels that were both well-written and clean. It’s fairly easy to find run-of-the-mill Christian fiction with Hallmark movie-style plots (admittedly, I have read my share of those during long winter nights); but I wanted to find books that were free from foul language and graphic violence or sex, yet written in a way that would really knock my literary socks off.
I’d become more aware of what I was reading and viewing when meditating on Paul’s words to the Philippians, in which he admonishes them to think on things that are honest, just, pure, and lovely. As well, in Psalms, David says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Hmmm. That eliminates a vast portion of entertainment that’s available to read, hear, or view these days.
As well, my teenage daughter and I often trade books, and I didn’t want to have to tell her in a shame-faced manner that she couldn’t read a particular book without being able to explain why. Granted, there are adult themes in books that I don’t want my 13-year-old to read quite yet–however, that should be my only disclaimer. It simply wouldn’t be right for me to read a book filled with cursing, with the excuse that the plot was riveting.
Fortunately, I have discovered some amazing authors, both Christian and non-Christian, that met my criteria. From a cross-section of genres, and in no particular order, these are my favorites:
- Randy Singer, whom critics compare to John Grisham, and with good cause. I particularly enjoyed The Justice Game and The Advocate. I have more books of his on hold at my local library.
- Jan Karon. Her Mitford books are so beautifully written, so poignant, and her down-home characters are developed with such depth that it seems impossible that they are fictional. She presents the gospel clearly at least once in each novel.
- Lis Wiehl. She has written several series in conjunction with other authors, including the Triple Threat series, about three strong career women who join forces to solve crime, and the East Salem series, very much reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s work.
- Lilian Jackson Braun, author of The Cat Who… crime series, in which reporter Jim Qwilleran, assisted by his two yowling Siamese cats, solves crimes that seem much too complex to have happened in his small town.
- Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison. These authors have joined forces to create the Oregon series. The Oregon is a super-ship with a crew of men and women with backgrounds in the CIA and Special Forces: think Mission Impossible meets Ocean’s Eleven, without a single curse word. A romantic scene popped up one time in an audio book I listened to recently, but it briefly described a kiss and nothing more.
- Jacqueline Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs series. Her stunning book Journey to Munich is set just prior to World War II. Maisie Dobbs is a new widow, called upon by the British government to serve as a spy in one last mission–but it’s not really about the spy games. It’s about the main character’s struggle to forgive, move beyond her grief, and triumph over the evil forces in the world at that time. Truly, this is the best book I have read in some time.
- Colleen Coble. My mom recommended this author for her Rock Harbor series. The plots are generally suspenseful and a bit dark, though written from a Christian worldview. Coble’s characters face struggles from within and without, and they always find love along the way.
- Jessica Day George. For something completely different, my daughter recommended this author’s fabulous fantasy books for young adults, including Dragon Slippers. Dragons, a touch of romance, and a fiercely independent girl as the main character–what more could you want in a clean YA book?
- Shannon Hale. Another recommendation of my daughter’s, this author also writes incredible fantasy novels for young adults. My favorite so far has been Book of a Thousand Days, about a young noblewoman locked in a tower with her maid for refusing to marry her intended. Sounds cliche, I know, but it’s not.
- I don’t have a number ten, and it’s driving me crazy! Please feel free to share your favorite clean reads so that I can round out my list. Happy reading!