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Member since Dec 2007
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TulaneLSU's Top 10 Nicholas Sparks novels
Dear Friends,

St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic of the 16th century, is perhaps the most eloquent writer on love. My favorite thought of his, which truly sums the whole of Christian belief in love is this:


Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved.

Perhaps no popular writer in America grasps that concept better than Nicholas Sparks. Some might dismiss his sweet romance novels as saccharine convenience store junk, like an Icee at Time Saver. They miss his real theme of love as sacrifice, something that shows itself again and again through his works.

TulaneLSU's Top 10 Nicholas Sparks novels
10. A Bend in the Road

Perhaps Sparks' most mysterious novel, ABITB delves into the themes of guilt, forgiveness, and redemption. Perhaps the most difficult thing to do in life is forgive another, truly and fully forgive. This work illustrates that only pure and true love, which comes from God, gives us the power to forgive. That forgiving ability is perhaps the most powerful aspect of love.

9. The Notebook

Perhaps his most popular book, it does tell a sweeping and moving story. Nonetheless, there is blatant adultery and fornication which is lauded. While much of Sparks' writing is at the peak of American romantic literature, this salacious theme is unforgivable. Without it, it would teeter between one and two.

8. The Last Song

Summer love is something I never experienced, except through this novel. It is a predictable story, if one has read other Sparks' works, but it is nonetheless another powerful story of sacrificial love.

7. The Best of Me

Inspired by the oil rig explosion of 2011, this novel is the only Sparks' novel set in Louisiana, and that automatically creates a connection with me. I try to picture myself in South or North Carolina, as one of Sparks' characters, but my imagination is not so expansive to allow me to place myself completely there because my being is so rooted in New Orleans. Some will criticize it for being too dramatic, but do Tolstoy or Dostoevsky receive similar criticism for their melodramas? No, and neither should the masterful Sparks.

6. Safe Haven

No force in America is as destructive, damning and damaging to individuals, families and society than is alcohol. Alcohol's pervasiveness in our culture is perhaps the largest driving force in our culture's ruin. Safe Haven is Sparks' greatest letter in defense of Teetotalism and brilliantly exposes how dangerous alcohol is. If only more American authors did the same.

5. Message in a Bottle

Suffers from a similar predicament as The Notebook, but is not nearly as explicitly sinful. Sparks' first novel is worth a read or two for its fast pace and credibility.

4. The Choice

In a world where life is cheap, oh so cheap, this novel reminds us that life is indeed precious and worth giving your all to protect. How the West has become so flippant about destroying life is a real reflection on this culture's slouching toward godlessness and utilitarianism. The Choice is a smack in the face of all those who hold that life is dispensable.

3. Dear John

I start weeping just thinking about this amazing story. A love so pure -- is it possible from mere mortals? John truly loves Savannah, and every action he performs reflects that love. The movie was almost as amazing.

2. Nights in Rodanthe

Forget for a moment the two protagonists are divorces, and unless their former spouses committed adultery, they too would be committing adultery by romantic trysts and a future marriage (Matthew 5:32). In order to love this novel, I have to assume that the male protagonist, the surgeon, had a wife who cheated on him, just as the female protagonist's husband did to her. As such, they are free to love and do as they will. The story is so wonderfully sacrificial. Truly love is here.

1. A Walk To Remember

I think for any teenage guy in the 1990s AWTR was the perfect coming of age romance novel. Jamie's pure love for Landon, which saves him from destruction, was instrumental in my understanding of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, both of whom I was avidly reading in the late 90s during my early teen years. It was thrilling when the film was released. While it was not nearly as good as the book, it still captured the essence of that pure love. Most people do not believe me when I tell them this, but I was visiting, with Mother, a family member in Baton Rouge in the late winter of 2002. LSU had just won its first SEC football championship in quite a while. I had begged Mother to bring me to see the film while we were there. She resisted until we departed. It was a Friday night, I believe. We went to a place on the east part of town, before Highland. If my memory serves me correctly the name of the theater was Tinseltown. We were seated, comfortably in the middle of the seventh row, the only row in which I will sit at a theater. None other than Nick Saban and his wife entered, absent of any candy, and sat immediately behind us. While I do not like Saban as a person, I confess that he was a most accommodating and well mannered theater neighbor. Although he sat directly behind me, and I am quite tall, he never once kicked my seat or said a negative word. I do wonder if his short stature caused him to miss any of the movie, owing to my height. Perhaps if he is an avid reader of this site he will confirm this story.

I look forward to reading your favorite works by Sparks.

This post was edited on 7/24 at 10:32 pm

Member since Jul 2010
5778 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 Nicholas Sparks novels
Thanks, that last bit is truly hilarious. Too bad we don’t have a theology board..

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Atlanta Braves Fan
Member since Oct 2017
4652 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 Nicholas Sparks novels
Is Safe Haven the one where the girl is hiding out from her abusive husband and meets the eligible widower? I think a read that on the crapper when I got out of the Army and stayed at my parents house.

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