Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as always by the awesome team at The Broke & The Bookish. Today’s assigned theme is “Reasons I Love _____”. They graciously left that blank pretty open-ended for us to gush about our topic of choice, but for me there was no question what I would talk about today.
Now, I know some of you will read “Christian fiction” and click away to another post … and that’s just sad 🙂 For those of you brave enough to stick around, I hope to shed some light on why this is my favorite genre (along with its multiple subgenres) to read, particularly if you’ve never seen anything of value to it before today.
Do I read mainstream, general market fiction? Of course. Do I have some favorite mainstream, general market authors? Of course. Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr, Marin Thomas, Kate James, the classics authors (Austen, Montgomery, Alcott, L’Engle, Lewis, Tolkien, etc.), J.K. Rowling, Lauren Willig, Tessa Dare, Diane Chamberlain, just to name a few.
So…. if I do read general market books, then you may be asking why in the world would I read Christian fiction?
BECAUSE I LOVE IT!
And now I’ll tell you why 🙂
1. Christian Fiction IS smart. Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Christian fiction is smart. Not all of it, of course. There are bad writers in Christian fiction just like there are bad writers in mainstream fiction. But the Christian fiction authors I recommend here on this blog write exquisite stories based on meticulous research & attention to detail. They know how to turn a phrase in a way that makes my bookish heart smile and I’m often so much more intelligent for having read a book when I’ve finished it. Plus, I learn things. I’ve learned things I didn’t know before about my home state of Kentucky during the colonial era (thanks, Laura Frantz!). I’ve learned historical insights about American mindsets during World War 2 (thanks, Sarah Sundin!) as well as about the orchestras in concentration camps (thanks, Kristy Cambron!). Pepper Basham taught me about the Lusitania and about speech therapy (that’s two separate books, by the way lol). I could keep going here but I think you get the idea lol 🙂
2. Christian fiction is creative! Along the same lines as the “smart” factor, the Christian fiction authors I read are some of the most creative writers across all markets. Why? Well, it’s more than simply imagination (although that’s awesome too!). But, let’s just be honest. It takes much more creativity to come up with ways to write a realistic expression of anger without actually using profanity. Or to portray a passionate romance without getting explicit in descriptions or behavior. And seriously? The passion thing? I’m thinking of some scenes right now (with my fan and fainting couch and freezer close at hand) by some of my fave Christian authors that I would have no problems putting up for evaluation next to scenes by any of the most popular general market romance authors. (If you don’t believe me, go check out my KissingBooks posts – lesson 1 and lesson 2. I’m collecting scenes for a third one that will be forthcoming. Such sacrifices I make for y’all lol)
3. Christian fiction has warmth. No, that tag graphic doesn’t mean what you think it means after my last point. I’m not talking about the kind of heat that has you fanning (although we’ve already established that there’s plenty of that in Christian fiction too). I’m talking about a warmth in writing style, voice, and tone that I often find to be missing when I read general market authors. Not always, but I don’t notice it nearly as much as I do in Christian fiction. When I read Christian fiction, I want to curl into the pages and snuggle in – even when it’s tearing my heart out or causing me to go through entire boxes of tissues. It’s the kind of warmth that makes me think of family and home and hot chocolate.
4. Christian fiction deals with real issues. Now, granted, it didn’t used to as much. I admit that even just a few years ago, a lot of Christian novels presented a rather pie-in-the-sky 80s-sitcom view of life. Happily, that is changing! More and more authors in the CBA market are writing about real issues – tough issues – with flawed characters who don’t always handle things the “right” way. Kinda like us 😉 I’m delighted to even see this trend spreading to the notoriously utopian Amish fiction genre.
5. Christian fiction gives me hope. The world around us looks pretty hopeless lately. On any given day, the news stories would depress even the most nauseatingly optimistic person. Christian fiction points me to the source of Hope when I’m tempted to just call a time out. BUT, please don’t mistake that to mean that there’s a sermon on every page. Because I agree with what I can hear you saying – I read fiction because I want a story, not a sermon. Me too. I HATE stopping a good story to read a sermon. I mean, really, if I wanted a sermon I would either listen to one on my podcast app or read a nonfiction book from which there are plenty to choose. In my opinion, the best Christian fiction weaves the spiritual lessons so organically into the story that it’s a natural extension of the character or the situation.
6. Christian fiction is NOT all about demons or atheists. In fact, I can’t even remember the last book I read that WAS about either of those things. (Ok… I can… and it wasn’t very good. I don’t recommend it.) While thinking about this particular post, I found a blog post by someone talking about why she doesn’t read Christian fiction. I disagreed with almost every point, mainly because even though it was written this year, I think she was basing her entire argument on Christian fiction 10 years ago. But, specific to this point, she said that the antagonists in Christian fiction are all the same – atheists or demons. And I’m sorry, but that’s just not true. Maybe 10 years ago, but not in current Christian fiction I am quite happy to report. Which brings up another point that should be mentioned here – if all of your opinions of Christian fiction were formed earlier than 10 years ago (even 5 years ago), give it another try! We’ve come a long way!
7. Christian fiction authors/readers/bloggers make awesome friends. I have never met a group of people who are as warm and friendly and hilarious as my Christian fiction peeps. Of course this doesn’t apply to everybody; there’s always a few that try to ruin it for everyone lol – but all in all I adore the people I’ve met in the Christian fiction world. Authors, readers, fellow bloggers. We laugh together, we tease each other, we support each other, we pray for each other, we email each other, we text each other, we call each other, we help each other out, and we of course talk books together! (Can I give another shameless plug here for the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat that I’m cohosting on August 24th in Nashville? THIRTY-FOUR Christian fiction authors hanging out with readers and bloggers, participating in panels & speed chats/games, lunch, book signings, and so much more! I. Cannot. Wait.)
8. Christian fiction has some gorgeous covers. Kinda like with the kissing scenes, I would totally expect a lot of my fave Christian fiction books to hold their own – and WIN – in a cover competition against just about any general market book out there. There are some fantastic cover designers in this business, and I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But, c’mon. We totally do. I mean, look at these beauties!! (This is seriously just a small sampling!!)
9. Christian fiction heroes make the best book boyfriends! It’s true. This is because a) they aren’t smarmy and b) they aren’t jerks. Ladies, we don’t have to settle for “jerk” or “smarmy” and call it “sexy”. It’s not. It’s just ignorant. Real “sexy” is when a guy treats you with respect, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the swoonworthiness either. Christian fiction heroes are all men, nothing wimpy about these guys. They’re strong and manly and tender. They’re flirty. They have winks and dimples and muscles. They get all husky voiced when ardor gets the best of them. They mess up sometimes. They get it right sometimes. And boy do they know how to kiss! (Check out this post I wrote with my friend Pepper about the swooniest heroes we love in Christian fiction.)
10. Christian fiction has some seriously great books. For all the reasons I’ve already mentioned – and dozens more – nearly all of my very favorite books come from the Christian fiction genre. I’ve been reading for a lot of years. Not to brag but I totally rocked the library summer reading program every year when I was growing up & now that my local library has one for adults, I rock that one too. 😉 I’ve read a lot of great books, a lot of good books, a lot of mediocre books, and sadly a few terrible books. And yes, I can name both Christian and general market fiction titles that would fit in each of those categories. But across the board, the number of great books in Christian fiction over the last few years far exceeds the mediocre or the terrible. I am so fabulously excited to be able to blog about this genre of books during this time in its history, and I can’t wait to see what kind of great reads are in the future!
What about you? If you read Christian fiction too, what are some reasons you love it? If you don’t read Christian fiction yet, what are some reasons you’ve stayed away?