Mrs. Reed’s Ideal Bookshelf

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what people do with stories –

For me, reading is about story, and what people do with stories. I am fascinated by how texts and their stories change over time in literature. What is enduring, unchanging text on a page seems to evolve and shift in meaning, interpretation, value, and relevance throughout time.

My favorite series as a teen was Scott Westerfield’s Uglies, a sci-fi dystopian fiction, because it captivated my imagination and altered and opened my worldview. This led me to love other dystopians, listed here. These are stories that teach us about how humanity lacks perfection, about suffering and abuse under oppression, and about the love and hatred that we all carry within. They were written at different moments in history, reacting to events that no longer apply today. Yet, we can bring these texts into the modern day, surround them with new context, and discover new stories and meaning that emerge from the old.


Uglies (Series)

Scott Westerfield


Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card



George Orwell



Ayn Rand


Brave New World

Aldous Huxley


Richard III

William Shakespeare


The White Queen

Philippa Gregory

The same for historical fiction. We know no text can be an accurate representation of any historical moment, because history is written with imperfect biases, preferences, cognitive recall, and limited language. I consider all historical text to be fiction to some degree. Historical fiction is concerned with the imaginative re-telling of our historical stories, a process I admire. As a confessed anglophile, a favorite historical moment of mine is the War of the Roses and the surrounding saga of the British monarchy. This branches into a vast array of historical fiction I love, including Shakespeare’s Richard III, Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen series, and Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. These authors take stories about humanity in our past and have re-told them in creative ways to make them interesting and relevant for the modern reader, and I appreciate this work of evolving stories as we fit new contextual frames around them.


Wolf Hall

Hillary Mantel


A Voice in the Wind

Francine Rivers

As a woman raised in a Christian home, I read and learned Bible stories and was taught that this text was absolute truth. Now, however, my interpretation of the Bible has evolved from my childhood understanding. I once saw this text as a foundation of spirituality, but I now view it as a highly influential piece of literature, with stories written in an ancient historical moment. This evolution in my understanding of the Bible has changed the way I apply this text to life. Other texts have influenced my reading of the Bible, such as The Bible Tells Me So by Pete Enns and Love Wins by Rob Bell. Finding myself amidst a community of critical readers that seek to bring old stories into today, to interrogate their relevance and timelessness, has connected my spiritual life to literature in a monumental way.

Reading, for me, is encountering the collaboration between imagination and life. Every day, an opportunity arises for an old text to reflect new ideas and communicate a different story, and I love the multi-facetted, rich world that reading brings to my life.


Love Wins

Rob Bell


The Bible Tells Me So

Pete Enns


The Liturgists

(Podcast, Multiple Creators)


The Bible for Normal People

(Podcast, Pete Enns)