November 21, 2017
After a 2015 webinar, we learned that many librarians feel awkward assisting patrons with Christian fiction. In our informal poll asking for librarians’ most-feared genres, Christian fiction came up #2 -- only slight less feared than the #1 pick: Science fiction. If you aren't familiar with this genre, it's all too easy to stick with the tried-and-true or wave a patron over in the general direction of the (perhaps small) collection you have. Luckily, we have help for you.
As with any genre Christian fiction isn't one size fits all. As a judge for the 2017 Christy Awards, my reading confirmed this. A Christian fiction title could win in any of nine different categories, everything from historical fiction to contemporary romance to mysteries and even a visionary award for speculative fiction. With authors such as Ted Dekker writing novels involving vampires, serial killers, and re-animated corpses, there’s even room for Christian horror novels.
Consider the following books, all nominated for a Christy.
Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (winner of the Christy book of the year), is a moving tale about a homeless songwriter who returns home after a long absence, seeking reconciliation. It's an emotional tearjerker and contemporary version of the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Like a River from Its Course by Stuart Kelli is a disturbing World War II historical novel with on-the-page violence and brutality. Although there is a thread of hope, readers will have to sit through some moments that are difficult to read.
Then there's Beth Moore's The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, an atmospheric mystery set in New Orleans starring quirky characters. Readers who like southern mysteries for their sass and suspense will find a lot to enjoy here.
Although this wide variety exists, these consistent elements are important to readers of Christian fiction.
When helping readers of Christian fiction, consider the following techniques:
Use these starting points and your professional expertise to converse with Christian fiction readers and dive in to the richness and variety this genre contains.
Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She's a kidlit expert and creates resources for all the librarians out there grappling with keeping up with what books kids are reading. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Lindsey's Book Squad email updates.