In early 2006 I stumbled across the Image Journal’s list of its Top 100 writers (with one book by each listed) of the 20th century. The list only references creative writing by writers of faith and the works must “manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith.” [I've posted and organized the list here.]
At first the list was simply daunting. I’d read so very few of them. I stuck the list in my purse and pulled it out sometimes when I was at the library. Less than a month after I started blogging in this space, in April 2007, I made this list a project. I aimed to read all the books on the list.
As I read and posted about these books, my estimation of the books as a group only grew — each one I read was so amazing! These are the kind of books I love, these are the kind of books that make me happy I’m a reader, I thought.
From that time, though, even as I’ve continued to make my way through the list, a longing has been growing steadily inside me. I’ve wondered, over and over, where are the new books? Yes, that’s a funny question to ask when your TBR shelf is overflowing with mostly new books. But what I wanted — and still want — is to find new books, new authors, whose books rise to the standard of these older ones. Sure, a few of the list’s authors are still alive and writing, but I want more.
After reading a post in March 2010 from My Friend Amy about the state of Christian Fiction, I was inspired to write, here, about my own unmet desire for books that really dig into what it means to believe, what this walk-by-faith thing is about, and do so with writing that thrills me. As much as I dug, as much as I asked others, I couldn’t to see a way to find these books. Sometimes they’re published by Christian publishing houses, sometimes by indie presses, sometimes by the large general-market publishers. Sometimes they’re even self-published. And as much as I’d love to, there’s no way I can read all the books published in a year [just] to find the ones I really want to read.
Note: This story isn’t exactly in chronological order, but it is how I remembered it.
So when Amy asked if I wanted to be involved in creating a new award that would honor exactly these books, I was hugely excited.
After months of brainstorming and discussion and planning, today we launched the INSPY Awards. And I’m so excited! Like Amy, “I’m so very excited and hopeful that we’ll be able to discover the very best books that grapple with the Christian faith that are being published today.”
Now we need your help. For this to be successful, we need book nominations. We need judges. We need word of the INSPYs to be spread far and wide.
If you’re interested in being a judge, please head over to the INSPYs site and read over the criteria and apply. If you’re interested in nominating the great books of Christian faith you’ve read in the last year, then please read the criteria for books and nominate the books you think should be considered.
It’s been a blast working with the whole advisory committee: Amy of My Friend Amy, Carrie of Books and Movies, Deborah of Books, Movies & Chinese Food, and Rel of Relz Reviewz.
Oh, one last thing: Help us spread the word! Please subscribe to the INSPYs blog, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.