Should Christians read novels, or should they just spend their reading time spending self help and spiritual grow books. Does any benefit come from reading novels?
I think if a novel will qualify to be even one of these qualities then one could go ahead and enjoy a good read. But if none of it, then better give it pass.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
True-- there are things to be learned from non-fictions
Honest-- not exaggerated or under-, or mis-represented
Just-- fair and justifiable
Pure-- no corruption, or corrupt representation
Lovely-- promotes love, not just sensuality
Good report-- coming from an esteemed source
Virtue-- excellent in character
Praise-- God honoring
I agree with @DCGotiza, @Julianna.King, with the clarification that this is a matter of conscience to each individual. I am an Edgar Allan Poe fan, for example; but I can understand that other Christians may not feel comfortable with his writing. I name two novels in the top five pieces of literature outside of the Bible that have influenced my worldview: Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, and The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Les Misérables helped me to understand love, justice, legality, and morality, and changed my perspective about how I should treat the poor and orphaned. The Brothers Karamazov examines the theological underpinnings and practical effects of several different worldviews through the lives of the sons of a libertine father. This helped me to understand and develop my own worldview. It is particularly relevant to the very matters that RZIM addresses in its apologetics ministry. These are two of the greatest novels ever written and every Christian ought to read them, in my opinion. I am sure that other Christians would put many other novels in their top five. There is something in each genre that is worthwhile to read.
The Bible is the only self-help and spiritual growth guide for me. This is not to say that other books in this category are wrong or bad to read; I just have found that the Bible is the most nutritious food for this type of thing. But that is just me.
I am happy to make some private recommendations to you if you like. I do not want to misguide anyone or be a stumbling block.
Indeed, Brother @blbossard, this subject is really a matter of conscience.
C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters influenced my personal conviction when I found myself indulging in other “good books” so much so it has taken my time from reading “The Book”. Of course, with proper discipline and balance, one can enjoy reading wholesome literary works.
Dennis, Screwtape Letters is another great work of fiction!