December 28, 2020 at 10:52 pm #123258EpicAddie2@epicaddie2
Hello, all! So, lately I’ve been wanting to read books (or watch movies) with a strong theme/message. I’ve gotten pretty sick of filling up on fiction that exists simply to entertain. It’s empty and not helpful at all when it comes to learning how to write themes well. So, does anyone know of any books that do a good job with a theme/message?
Thanks 🙂December 28, 2020 at 11:28 pm #123259
I recommend Gary D. Schmidt’s books The Wednesday Wars, Okay For Now, Orbiting Jupiter, and Pay Attention Carter Jones (he has many more but those are the ones I’ve read so far). They all deal with different themes, but I think the overarching one in all of them is family and dealing with a broken family. They’re very entertaining, in my opinion, but also hit right in the gut with emotion. Since they’re middle-grade, the themes aren’t super in-depth; they’re sort of open-ended, but compared to a lot of genre fiction, they give you something to think about rather than just leaving you with a “that was cool” feeling.
I must admit I haven’t read too many thematic books recently, but some others where the themes stood out to me were The Little Prince, The Eagle of the Ninth, All the Crooked Saints, and Tuck Everlasting. The Little Prince is basically all about theme, so I’d definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it yet.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Bethany.
"Can't have dirty garbage."December 29, 2020 at 9:33 am #123275Zee@zee
@epicaddie2, that’s an interesting question. I’d argue that any book has a message, whether the author necessarily intended it or not, but it’s not always a good or true one–and I assume that’s what you’re looking for. One book I thoroughly enjoyed as a child was The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindart DeJong. It’s more of a Middle Grade reading level, I suppose, but still really good. For teens, have you read any of Madeline L’Engle’s Sci Fi series? Or the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander? A fine new read for me just recently was The Curse of Kalathan, by the new-to-me (and I think new) author, Kate le Roux.
I loved The Eagle of the Ninth, @sparrowhawke! Actually, the whole series is great (as are most of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books,) but if I had to choose a favorite, that might be it.December 29, 2020 at 12:01 pm #123278
Also, The Giver Quartet is a good series and the first one, The Giver, seems very pro-life to me. The later books do get rather fantastical (not necessarily a bad thing, but the first one is more sci-fi).
I just bought the two other books in the Roman Britain trilogy and hope to read them soon!
"Can't have dirty garbage."December 29, 2020 at 6:12 pm #123294Arindown (Gracie)@arindown
My top recommendation would be Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga. They are amazing, and honestly, the best series I have ever read. I’d even rate them (slightly) above Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia.
Not all those who wander are lost.December 29, 2020 at 8:58 pm #123306R.M. Archer@r-m-archer
- The Lord of the Rings, if you haven’t read those yet
- The Midnight Thief duology by Livi Blackburne
- Nadine Brandes’ A Time to Die (the whole series, I’m assuming, but I’ve only read the first one)
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is another classic with a strong theme
- I personally found the theme in The Picture of Dorian Grey interesting, but that’s definitely a darker story overall
- The Fire Rain Chronicles by Miranda Marie
- Synapse by Steven James (thank you, @daeus-lamb, for recommending that one!)
- Steward Stories by Beth Wangler is a collection of short stories that all have really good themes
- Hannah Heath’s Terebinth Tree Chronicles
- Fahrenheit 451 is another great classic
- Of Myth and Monster by The Phoenix Fiction Writers has stories with some great themes
- To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (which I promise is not as uber-feminist as it sounds)
And I second The Giver and The Wingfeather Saga. Both are excellent.
Speculative fiction author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literature.December 30, 2020 at 7:09 pm #123356Taylor Clogston@taylorclogston
Dostoyevsky does that thing where every character symbolizes a different answer to a thematic question (or at least a different variation on a basic theme like “love”). His books are very PG-13, but excellent examples of thematic writing taken to the extreme. I recently finished his book The Idiot, in which the main character represents Christian brotherly and compassionate love and various other characters represent passion, self-hatred, romance, and pragmatism.
I don’t know if it’s still open, but Josiah’s Theme Mastery course would be an excellent place to learn the difference between different kinds or qualities of theme (like, “theme” and “message” are two different things, and he gives great advice on both): https://josiahdegraaf.teachable.com/p/theme-mastery
I also highly recommend Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald. It’s an extremely Pixar-ish look at theme, and one of my favorite writing books of all time. He wrote another book called The Golden Theme, which is also good, but it really just expands what you already read in the first and better book.
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and MargaritaDecember 30, 2020 at 7:38 pm #123359imwritehere1920@imwritehere1920
Eeep! Where do I begin? Everyone had some really good recs, especially The Giver (one of my favorites) Fahrenheit 451, and the Chronicles of Prydain.
I mostly read MG, but I’ve found some with great themes. If you’re interested, they are:
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Crispin: Cross of Lead (by Avi)
The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare; actually, pretty much any of her historical fiction has strong themes. Bring tissue, cause this one’s powerful).
Medallion (Dawn L. Watkins; it’s published by BJU Press, so I don’t think they have an ebook for it…? I only found the paperback copy on Amazon.)
When You Reach Me (by Rebecca Stead)
Walk Two Moons (Sharon Creech)
Return to Christmas (Chris Heimerdinger)
Catherine Called Birdy (Karen Cushman)
And if you are looking for more of a YA title, I have this one:
A Separate Peace (by John Knowles *disclaimer: has some language*).
I hope this is helpful; if you want more, please don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest HemingwayDecember 31, 2020 at 10:49 am #123383Daeus Lamb@daeus-lamb
All the Crooked Saints
@sparrowhawke Oooh, I read The Scorpio Races by the same author. So this book is really good?
👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢December 31, 2020 at 10:50 am #123384Daeus Lamb@daeus-lamb
Don’t forget Cry, The Beloved Country! 😁😁😁
👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢December 31, 2020 at 12:43 pm #123385
I thought AtCS was good, definitely better than I expected. It has a theme of dealing with personal darkness but needing the help of others to overcome it. And lots of owls, which is always a plus in my book.
I haven’t read The Scorpio Races yet but it’s one of the million books on my TBR.
And I second the recommendation of The Bronze Bow. Has some outdated cultural depictions (oh great, now I’m sounding like Disney) with Jesus being blonde and blue-eyed, but otherwise, really good.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Bethany.
"Can't have dirty garbage."January 5, 2021 at 4:48 pm #123477EpicAddie2@epicaddie2
@sparrowhawke I’ve actually read Wednesday Wars before! I didn’t really like it, I think because I don’t usually read that genre. I should try his other books though!
@zee I really love Madeline L’Engle! I usually don’t like sci-fi but her books are always really good! I haven’t heard of the other books you mentioned, so I’ll add those to my reading list! Thank you!
@arindown I loooooove the Wingfeather Saga!! It’s one of my favorite series ever!
@r-m-archer Wow, that’s a long list! Thank you so much!! I haven’t read most of those 🙂
@taylorclogston Ooh, those all sound great!
@imwritehere1920 I haven’t heard of most of those, actually! I’ll add them all to my reading list XD
@daeus-lamb I read Cry, the Beloved Country once and I didn’t enjoy it very much… perhaps because I was forced to read it in middle school. I should give it another try XD
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