Christian fiction and me: My story

Word Lily thoughts

Growing up, I read all kinds of books, but I read of ton of Christian fiction. I read Janette Oke, Michael Phillips and Judith Pella, Brock and Bodie Thoene. There were others, sure (including general market books), but those were big ones.

And then. I quit reading Christian fiction. I can’t pinpoint the exact timing of the switch, but it happened. I became disappointed, they all started sounding the same. I wandered the shelves, looking elsewhere for good books. And I stayed there for quite a few years. I was a Christian, yes, but I disparaged Christian fiction (and didn’t read it).

And then I became frustrated with wandering the stacks, with having no way to know if a book I picked up was going to be horrible or good — back to where I started, in a sense.

So I came back to Christian fiction, at least in part. I’m one of those people who need happy books, at least sometimes. I want well-written, literary books, yes. I want to be challenged by my reading, yes. But sometimes I need a comfort read, a book in which everything works out in the end, in which I’m not so offended I want to throw the book across the room. A book that makes me smile — or better, laugh.

Still, I can’t subsist on a steady diet of these books alone. I yearn for books that share my worldview and reflect life as the messy, imperfect thing it is. I love stories that leave a little mystery, room for wonder, that depend on hope and redemption. This is what I hope the INSPYs help uncover.

I’d love it if it were as simple as following imprints (as My Friend Amy proposes) to know which kind of book I was holding. And according to a few of the comments on a recent Mike Duran post, apparently at least a few imprints along these lines are in progress. Following certain publishers is actually part of what brought me hope as I returned (with trepidation) to Christian fiction.

I’m really looking forward to the Twitter chat — #CFChat — on Monday, at noon Central, about “what can be done about Christian fiction, how people feel about it currently, and [to] share ideas for serving both camps.” Join us?

How ’bout another quote from Amy’s post (still waiting for Deborah to post her thoughts) to close:

I love many Christian fiction books and many general market books. It is not my intention to wound by sharing my thoughts, but rather to open up the conversation and see how we can best meet the needs of various kinds of readers. I love faith driven lit and I think that there can be a way that everyone can find books they love to read.

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21 responses to “Christian fiction and me: My story

  1. Even if not easy, it’s probably easier to find new books that you like in this age of social media, no?

  2. Maybe. Not entirely sure, though. There’s also the chance that, in the process, one will be overwhelmed by all the choices.

  3. You know I read alot of Christain Fiction and then stopped because it all seemed so fake to me. Im a Christian and I love Jesus but I dont add in scripture everytime I speak to my friends. So I stopped because I thought the faith message was overdone and cheesy. I started reading CF again about 2 years ago and the genre has for sure gotten better with more diverse authors, Im still looking for that one book that pushed me to the edge though.

  4. Loved what you said about “you can’t subsist on a steady diet of these books alone.”

    I completely agree. I love Christian fiction…especially edgy Christian fiction (when I can find it), but even so, I need to break and read outside the genre at least once a month.

    I’ve found my blogging niche in inspy romance but I have a well rounded diet. 🙂

  5. I have never really thought about following a publisher… that is something for me to think about. As you know I love a mix of books and I still search for great Christian books and appreciate blogs like yours and Amy’s (as well as a few others) that bring books to my attention to the point that I have to find them and read them for myself.

  6. I do think imprints could work…I mean, it works in comics, romance, and fantasy why not faith driven fiction? I’ll still be reading outside of that but learning publishers preferences could really help.

  7. I, too, was steeped in Janette Oke as a kid, and honestly, I haven’t found much in the Christian market to lure me back. Perhaps I should give it a go again.
    Thanks for this suggestion.

  8. When I became a Christian some 10ish years ago, I tried reading Christian fiction and was horrified. For most of a year, I slogged through the chick lit, the Amish stuff, and writers like Peretti and Dekker. I finally gave up and went back to reading books I like. Why is there no such thing as Christian literature, I’ve often wondered.

    The odd thing is, my opinion is not my own. I’m not the only Christian who abhors Christian fiction (as evidenced by this post). Where then is the blame? Are the writers not writing the books, or are the publishers not publishing the books?

  9. Pingback: Sunday | Word Lily

  10. I’m not sure it counts as Christian Fiction, but I was a lit. student in college and my favorite book was Dante’s Inferno. I just found the imagery very evocative and the story deeply personal. Has anybody else read it?

    Thank you for posting, Lily. You got my thinking about CF now.

  11. That’s pretty cool. What else are you reading right now?

  12. Pingback: Bookish links for Saturday, January 29, 2011 | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  13. I completely agree! I even read similar authors to you. But once I was into my late teens/early 20s I needed something from fiction that I was not finding in fiction… I am hopeful (oh please oh please) that we will see new kind of Christian fiction… I would type out more what I mean but my 4 yo is up and must deal with her. 🙂

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