Christian books

I have a love-hate relationship with Christian fiction.

I read tons of Christian fiction when I was growing up, but I also read tons of general fiction, from both the children’s and general collections at my local library. I grew up, as it were, on Janette Oke and the like — this is what was available. But even as a tween I grew tired of these books.

For many years I abstained from reading Christian fiction, because most of it (that I picked up, anyway) fit this mold of overwrought, very predictable, very safe, very *very*. Everything tied up with a bow. Everything concluded. No mystery, no room for wonder or doubt.

I still go to Christian fiction when I want a safe read.

In the past couple years, though, my frustration with what is Christian fiction has only grown. Sure, I’ve found a few authors I respect and whose works I want to devour. River Jordan springs to mind, and I’ve only read one of her books!

One more example of greatness: Wounded: A Love Story by Claudia Mair Burney.

But what I’ve more largely found is that the books I want to find, to read — that I’ll love — are really hard to find. I want books that deal with faith, but books in which nothing is a foregone conclusion. Books that challenge me, books that expand my world rather than shrink it. The only place I’ve reliably found these books, so far, is the Image Journal list. Which is why I’ve made it my aim to read all the books on the list. And in most cases, I hope to read much more broadly of each author listed. But this list only contains books published in the 1900s. Many of the authors listed therein are dead, not writing new books. So where do I go to consistently find books like this being published now?

Christian fiction *could* be the place for these books. Right now it’s not, though. And maybe it shouldn’t be. But that’s a discussion for another day.

For now, though, I guess I’ll keep on ‘kissing a lot of frogs …’ to find the great books.

NOTE: I was inspired to get these thoughts down, and published, by My Friend Amy’s post Christian Fiction: What Is Going On? It’s excellent. You should read it. It’s probably more useful, more productive, than this one.

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12 responses to “Christian books

  1. Great post Hannah! It is exactly the frustration I have and I think that there is a huge market out there because I’ve heard this same story. I wish the two of us could start a literary fiction (yes I know, I know) press.

  2. I just devoured Francine Rivers’ “Mark of the Lion” trilogy: A Voice in the Wind, Echo in the Darkness, and Sure as the Dawn. I totally hear you about Christian fiction being so… you know… but this series blew me away.

    Also: Frank Peretti. Piercing the Darkness is amazing.

  3. Great post! Amy’s post had me thinking a lot and it’s good to see others thinking as well. I read some pretty awful Christian fiction when I first became a Christian about a decade ago, and I’m just now getting back into some of it (Ted Dekker, Francine Rivers). And I only read it based on the opinions of people I trust — friends and bloggers who tend to like the same things I do. Because if I had to walk into a store and see all of those smiling white women on the covers, I’d head for the hills.

  4. I love this topic and have read Amy’s post as well. I have read a lot of Christian Fiction in the past 7 years, I too found the cookie cutter “push of faith” to be almost a standard in most of these books and didnt find a lot of “meat” in the reads. I started to turn away from the books due to this…. I wanted more in my reading. I wanted to read about the faults as well as triumphs…. and sometimes I like to read a book when even at the end the character may still be “working on it” …because to me that is real.

    I do have many authors I enjoy in the Christian Fiction genre but have really started to be more selective in the ones I am agreeing to read and review. I want my readers to read reviews that make them want to read the book too and I sometimes find when I review the standard Christian Fiction smiley woman book that I struggle putting my heart into those reviews.

    I always say you can tell in my reviews when I have really enjoyed a book. :)

  5. Heh, a lot of my reviews are like 3.75 for the Christian fiction. I am being more picky too, but I think it’s important that I keep trying new authors, etc. so that I’m informed when I talk about this.

  6. These are amazing suggestions. You should also try books on how to understand the bible. I recommend “The Young Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Bible” and you can pick it up at http://tinyurl.com/tyrgtutb It walk you through so many details about the Bible and I think it’s perfect for every Christian

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