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.