Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Christian Fiction (it's not an oxymoron)

...or is it?

Christian fiction gets a bad rap.  And let's all be honest.  It often deserves its poor reputation.  My years working at The Christian Bookstore exposed me to an awful lot of drivel.  On the positive side, I was just borrowing the books (store perk!) so at least I didn't waste any of my hard-earned money.

The vindictive part of me would like to list these groan-worthy books and authors.  Then I remember that I'm writing a novel and I would be crushed if someone ever referred to my hard work as drivel.  So I'll keep the snark to myself.  However, if you were to email me for more specifics, I can't say that I wouldn't write you back with all the dirt.

There is good amongst the bad, however.  Otherwise I wouldn't keep reading it!

Now let's move on.  I have to say that there are Christian fiction authors I enjoy but I don't necessarily have favorite Christian fiction books. (This is probably why the Christian market isn't viewed as true competition in the literary world.)

Here are the books and authors that make the cut, in no particular order:
Flabbergasted- Ray Blackston Laugh out loud funny! If you are single, male or female, I dare you not to relate to Jay, our main character who takes to church to find the girl of his dreams.  Blackston is an awesome, friendly author- we emailed a bit after this book came out. He has a fresh voice. The two sequels were also enjoyable but Flabbergasted remains my favorite.

Tamara Leigh- I like Leigh's version of Christian chick lit. They're easy, engaging reads that keep me laughing and commiserating. Perfecting Kate was the first of hers that I read.

Silence- Shusaku Endo I wouldn't say this is Christian fiction but the spiritual themes are too overt to put it in my general fiction list.  I read this for Book Club and we had a very thought-provoking discussion about apostasy and what might cause us to deny our faith.

The Shape of Mercy- Susan Meissner I absolutely loved this book! Full review here. I haven't had a chance to read anything else by Meissner but I have high hopes based on The Shape of Mercy.

Robin Jones Gunn- I have a long history of RJG, stemming from the Christy Miller series (more on this later) and leading up to her Glenbrooke novels and more.  Whether it's a romance or a pair of sisters traveling the world, I'm guaranteed to enjoy Gunn's take.

The Cubicle Next Door and Moon Over Tokyo- Siri Mitchell I find Mitchell's contemporary characters more relatable than what else is out there, more like me and my friends. I haven't read her other work since she's now writing historical fiction, which is not really my cup of tea.

Just Between You and Me and Save the Date- Jenny B. Jones Again, relatable characters. It makes such a difference!  They're not perfect, they're not cookie cutter Christians. There may be a happy ending but it also holds true to life.

Beth Pattillo- If you like anything related to Jane Austen, you should check out her updated tales.  Start with Jane Austen Ruined My Life.

Lights of the Veil- Patty Metzer It's been an eon since I read this but I was so utterly captivated by the main character and her adventure across India.  Think I'll be rereading it soon!

Thorn in my Heart- Liz Curtis Higgs This was my favorite of the Lowlands of Scotland Series.  I enjoyed how Higgs interpreted the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and then transported it to the Scottish highlands.

What a Girls Wants- Kristin Billerbeck Relatable, well-written Christian chick lit. The Ashley Stockingdale books are hilarious! You'll be asking yourself, are you a Season or a Reason?

Stay tuned for more reasons why Leigh Likes Books:
  • Favorite Fiction (General Market)
  • Favorite Christian Fiction (today)
  • Favorite Nonfiction (General Market) (5/16)
  • Favorite Christian Nonfiction (5/18)
  • Going to the Classics (5/23)
  • Best Book Series (5/25)
  • Childhood Faves (5/30)
  • Books I Used to Like that Now Make Me Cringe (6/1)
Agree? Disagree? What are your favorite Christian fiction books? Do you think "good Christian fiction" is an oxymoron?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon from HopefulLeigh, any purchase you make supports this site.


  1. I respectfully add to your list:

    Francine River's Redeeming Love , Susan Meissner's Lady in Waiting, Marybeth Whalen's The Mailbox, and Liz Curtis Higgs' Mine is the Night.

    What you call "drivel" I call "mind candy." And it definitely has a time and a place. GRIN

  2. Yup I've read most of these and more. :) I'd have to add francine rivers though too. I love her Mark of the Lion series. I really like the couple Nancy Rue books I have too. Much more "real life" than most christian fiction. I liked some of the older stuff by Deborah Raney and Angela Hunt.

    Oh and I"m a total sucker for Candice Calvert. It's easy reading, predictable romance stuff but very accurately set in medical scenarios. She's an RN turned writer and writes me back on face book so I like her. :)

    I'm just reading Billerbeck's new one right now...Looks pretty good.

    I worked at a christian bookstore too and was raised on christian fiction so I have a soft spot for a lot of it. I agree though their is quite a bit of "drivel" or "twaddle".

  3. @Heatherly, I don't think you'd call mind candy what I'd call drivel. I love mind candy- what I usually call "fluff" books. There is definitely mind candy and then there's drivel. Seriously want to name names but I won't:)

    @Jenn, I don't think I've read much Nancy Rue, Deborah Raney, or Angela Hunt. And I've never heard of Candice Calvert! I have Billerbeck's new one in my To Read stack and looking forward to reading it soon. How fun that you worked at a Christian bookstore too!

  4. I am so excited! I haven't read most of these! I will have to check them out. And as the others said, I'm surprised that Francine Rivers isn't mentioned. Not a fan?

  5. Melissa (Vetter) WhittinghillMay 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    I love What A Girl Wants! I have a shirt that says "I'm a Season, Not a Reason". While I enjoy her other books, Ashley Stockingdale is by far her best.

    I also enjoy Mindy Starns Clark. Her books are Christian murder mysteries (now there's an oxymoron) and are page turners.

  6. Can't wait to try some of these! But you really need to check out Rene Gutteridge. I happen to know this author personally, but that does not change the facts that her books are a great Christian read. Try the Boo series and the other ones.

  7. @Casi, my library is always open. As far as Francine, well, wait and see.

    @Melissa, how fun to see you here, friend! I can't believe you have that shirt- that's awesome. I haven't heard of Mindy Starns Clark but will give her a go.

    @Brownie, you know, I believe I read her first Boo book when it was published. I'm almost sure the publisher sent me a copy to review when I was working at The Christian Bookstore and I do remember liking it. I don't think I knew it became a series though!

  8. I really love pretty much anything by Terri Blackstock. I'm reading Vicious Cycle right now, and I really like it. Never mind that I haven't read the first book in the Intervention series... They stand alone all right, too. :)


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