Top Ten Tuesday (125): Religious Diversity

TTT stars

Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  I was inspired for this week’s topic by Bri’s post about the need to see more characters of faith in YA:

TOP TEN BOOKS if you’re in the mood for religious diversity

  1. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok: The author of The Chosen brings us a story about a Hasidic Jew who must navigate the expectations of his faith and his need to paint.  His other books also present protagonists growing up Jewish.
  2. The Mira’s Diaries series by Marissa Moss: A Jewish girl discovers she has inherited a gene for time travel and learns about Jewish history in the process.
  3. The Father Brown mysteries by G. K. Chesterton: Fans of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy this series featuring a priest who solves mysteries.
  4. Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah: I haven’t read this one, but finding a book with a Muslim protagonist that is not set in the Middle East is difficult.  This one follows an Australian teen after she decides to start wearing the hijab.
  5. The Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery: Anne doesn’t know how to pray when she arrives at Green Gables, but throughout the series she relies on her faith in dark moments.
  6. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson: It’s impossible not to mention the Muslim teen who’s a superhero and also a fan girl.
  7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: A boy with a Jewish background and a girl raised Catholic fall in love.
  8. The Fairy Tale Novels by Regina Doman: Doman’s modern fairy tale retellings are a little in-your-face with the Catholicism, but there is something appealing about protagonists who like classic novels and music.  Her publishing company Chesterton Press releases other books with Catholic characters, such as Catholic Philosopher Chick (Catholic chick lit).
  9. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: An autobiographical graphic novel about Satrapi’s life in Iran after the Islamic Revolution.
  10. Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy by Regina Doman and Sam Lam: Manga Hero publishes a variety of Catholic manga, from the story of Judith to the biography of Pope Benedict XVI to an original fantasy story.

Choosing only ten was difficult!  If you have more recommendations, especially for those faiths that aren’t covered in this list, let us know in the comments!

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23 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday (125): Religious Diversity

    • Krysta says:

      Manga Hero doesn’t seem to have many options currently, but it’s possible that’s because there’s not a huge market for Catholic manga. My sense is that homeschooling materials are what usually sell to a specifically Catholic audience. Or gift books for First Communion and stuff.

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    • Krysta says:

      Asher Lev is such a great book! Usually people, if they’ve even read Potok, have only read The Chosen (in my experience, anyway). But I love Asher Lev even more!

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  1. bftreviews says:

    Nice topic idea! I’m not a big fan of religion in books I’m reading. It can take away from the story when it’s over done. But the books from your list I’ve read have all done it well where it’s not the main focus of the story. Great list!
    My TTT

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    • Krysta says:

      Since religion is an integral part of so many people’s lives, it makes sense to me that books, meant to be reflections of life, would include it. I’m actually baffled that so few books do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bftreviews says:

        I notice either a complete lack of it or those books that shove it in your face. I don’t really see many that have that nice balance.

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        • Krysta says:

          I don’t know. Most classic books like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, etc. have characters who are Protestant and go to church sometimes. British classics usually have protagonists who are Protestant. (The anti-Catholic bent can be overwhelming, though, I grant.) Any books I’ve seen that are more religious than that were usually written as a religious text or for a religious press (like Doman’s Fairy Tale Novels. The characters give speeches about chastity and the villains are always identifiable because they’re the only non-Catholic characters. Talk about awkward, offensive, and unrealistic….) Maybe I just have different reading habits where the characters I see usually aren’t overtly religious? (And apparently my habits skew towards Protestant protagonists for whatever reason.) But I do see your point about the matter potentially being “in your face” (like Doman’s…).

          Liked by 1 person

          • bftreviews says:

            Exactly this! I wish I could remember the names of the “in your face” books but apparently I’ve purged them from my memory. What especially bothers me is when there’s no warning of it in the summary and them BAM! The whole book is about religion.

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  2. Lisa says:

    Terrific list, and great topic! I’ve read some of these (Persepolis, Ms. Marvel, Asher Lev) and will definitely check out some of the others.

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  3. Book Club Babe says:

    Eeesh…I had no idea Catholic manga was a thing. Talk about cringe-worthy. I’ll think I’ll stick to manga meant for heathens, like Death Note!

    If religious diversity includes skepticism, then I also recommend the His Dark Materials trilogy and Demian by Hermann Hesse. Both teach questioning religious authority and living according to your true self.

    My TTT: http://bookclubbabe.net/2016/03/01/top-ten-books-when-you-just-want-to-laugh/

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    • Krysta says:

      I wouldn’t call it cringe-worthy. It’s just a biography of the pope or a Bible story told in pictures–no more cringe-worthy than a “Who Is Pope Francis?” book would be or a picture book about the story of David and Goliath. Catholic manga simply means in this case manga that might be of interest to Catholics because they, you know, read the Bible and stuff….

      Yup! Skepticism counts! Thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. Stephanie B (@Chasm_of_Books) says:

    I actually hadn’t heard of most of the books on the list, which is probably unfortunate and shows our need for more books the incorporate religious characters into a story. The Children of the Promise by Dean Hughes is a great one. It’s about a Mormon family and their lives during WWII. It doesn’t really focus on the religion itself, but the religion does affect the characters’ actions which is how it should be with fictional novels if you ask me.

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  5. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    Oh wow, I had no idea that Isla and the Happily Ever After involved religion like that! Sounds really interesting – I wasn’t planning on reading it, because I didn’t want it to overshadow Anna and the French Kiss (stupid reason, I KNOW xD ) but I definitely will soon then! Thanks for sharing! 😀

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