I don’t like fiction books because they make me feel stupider and like I’ve crumpled up my time into a ball and tossed into the garbage can. You made up a story, great. Does it say anything? Does it make me think? Does it move me?
My two favorite fiction book series of all time are C.S. Lewis‘ Chronicles of Narnia series and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Entertaining and attention grabbing, but extremely deep. Extremely symbolic. Extremely moving. Once I finished these two series, I honestly have not been able to read another fiction book. Everything I pick up either bores me or makes me stupider, both reasons to put a book down for good.
I recently read Zachary Bartels’ novel Playing Saint and I loved it. I don’t want to give away the plot but what I loved about the book is that yes, while it was a gripping page turner that you’d expect in a good novel, it was also filled with witty humor and deep meaning, meaning about who I am as a pastor and a Christian. “Christian” and “novel” are typically a combo you want to stay away from, another refreshing change-up found in Playing Saint. Bartels proves you can be excellent at the art of writing while not having to fill your pages with F-bombs and lewd sex scenes, something very refreshing indeed. And thank heavens “Christian novel” also doesn’t equate to “salvation tract” or “predictable and cheesy” with Bartels, traits that almost always accompany anything Christian nowadays. Playing Saint is a refreshing mix of ingredients you frankly don’t expect to find anywhere: funny, action-packed, deep, Christian, raw and brutally honest. This is a pioneer book and piece of art that is well worth your read and something the world and Christianity needs more of.
If you’re looking for a good read or a good gift, grab a copy of Playing Saint and I promise you won’t be disappointed. In fact, it’s likely you’ll end up feeling like Tracy Groot did about it: