“... the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.”
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Once upon a time there was a story told by someone and heard by someone. The person who heard the story could not forget it and so told someone else who heard the story and could not forget it and so told someone else and so on and so on. The story once told continues to sow and reap, and sow and reap.
Below are 12 Great Stories. They have no secrets. They won’t deceive you with any illusions or surprise endings. They invite you to enter into them. But, I will caution that these stories will probably be unfamiliar, and maybe even a bit uncomfortable (or very uncomfortable). They are uncensored and unapologetic. They might rub raw your beliefs, your morals and your standards. They will scratch at all that you hold sacred. I think there’s something blessed and holy in each. They are for me the reason that I have any faith in the Gospel at all. People are bruised and broken, but the Good News is that He came for the sick. If we are to follow after Him, we must get comfortable with each of His lambs and their rough-hewn, rugged, raggedy stories. We cannot feed or water them well if we do not know their thirst or hunger. Take them in a little at a time, as you openly consider each and every word.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture of Crisis by J.D. Vance
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Liar’s Club by Mary Carr
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls
Unashamed by Lecrae Moore
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Silence by Shusaku Endo
All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir by Brennan Manning
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy