Hike Books Forward – August 10

Two audiobooks to recommend this week. Both are old, but one is 100 years older than the other. Both are spiritual books, but one is based in reality while the other is couched in fantasy. Both are excellent reads, but one is written for adult eyes while the other has young readers in mind.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – 1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Wow! What a powerful book. I had to remind myself several time that this was written in the 1850s. It is a book that addresses the mindset of American today. The church needs to read this book with eyes and ears and hearts wide open. The gospel is so beautiful proclaimed, and the hypocrisy of the religion is painted with stark realism and incredible insight. The faith of little Eva and of Uncle Tom brought me to tears many times.

I have never taken the opportunity to read this classic. What a loss for me. This profound work of fiction has real life behind it. The dialog of slavery speaks with a raw harshness and the attitudes of bigotry and prejudice fill many of the pages the text. And yet there are the golden rays of hope and love and prayer and compassion.

The book opens in Kentucky as a farmer, Arthur Shelby is in debt and in danger of losing his farm. He has a benevolent relationship with his slaves, but begrudgingly agrees to sell two slaves to a Mr. Haley, a slave trader. He sells Uncle Tom, a gracious, honest, loyal middle-aged man who loves Jesus and trusts in his Lord completely and he sells Harry, a young boy, a son of his wife’s maid, Eliza. Eliza hears of the sale and decides to run away with her son and head toward Canada. Thus begins the stories of hardships and encouragements; of harshness and compassion; of cruelty and support; of ignorance and confusion; of truth and deception; of good news and hatred. 

If you have never read this book, I highly encourage you to take the time. It is not a short book, but it is a powerful one. If you read it many years ago, this might be a good time to pick it up again and see the novel through the eyes of 21st century America.

The Horse and His Boy – 1954 – C.S. Lewis

The reading of the seven books that comprise the Chronicles of Narnia is always a treat. The order in which they are read involves a choice. Some like to read the books in the order in which they were published while others desire to read the stories in a chronological sequence within the times of Narnia. By publication dates, the order is 1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950); 2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951); 3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952); 4. The Silver Chair (1953); 5. The Horse and His Boy (1954); 6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955); 7. The Last Battle (1956).

The Narnia historical sequence changes the order: 1. The Magician’s Nephew; 2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; 3. The Horse and His Boy; 4. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia; 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 6. The Silver Chair; 7. The Last Battle.

The reading order does not seem greatly significant in my opinion, although in The Horse and His Boy, I did scratch my head a bit at the first mention of Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and Peter. The author quickly clears the air by mentioning the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (LWW). Once I realized that The Horse and His Boy fits inside the story of LWW, the time frame made sense.  

I love the title of the book as it places the relationship between talking animal and young lad as well as the leadership in their escape from slavery in an appropriate dynamic. I have to admit that this is not my favorite volume in the chronicles, but the adventure is still rich, and the role of Aslan is powerfully written. Plots to kidnap and conquer, a boy and a girl and two horses on the run are keys to the fate of Narnia, and the interventions of the lion make this a wonderful book for all ages.   

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