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?
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.