Ask BHP: What’s Your Favorite Thing About Christian Fiction?

I’m excited about today’s Ask BHP. I was secretly hoping someone would ask this question at some point: “What is your favorite thing about Christian fiction? And what do you dislike?”

For time’s sake, to get a list of my pet peeves in Christian fiction (or, in some cases, any fiction), just take the following points and reverse them. That way I can spend the whole blog addressing the first question with examples from some of the books I’ve recently read and enjoyed. (And yes, I picked four things I like about Christian fiction, but hey, I’m writing this blog so I get to make the rules.)

Me with fall colors, because nothing says seasonal office decorations like piles of books.

Me with fall colors, because nothing says seasonal office decorations like piles of books.

Christian fiction doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Are there novels on heavier topics where humor would be totally out-of-place? Of course! But I love that Christian fiction isn’t somber or dull, and that some writers dedicate books or entire writing careers to making people laugh.

For me, Melissa Tagg’s delightful rom-coms hit right on my sense of humor, for others, Mary Connealy’s comedy and cowboys or Jen Turano’s zany turn-of-the-century romps are just their style.

It’s a good feeling to laugh out loud, especially when the fun is clean and hope-filled. We all need it, and I’m glad that Christian fiction provides it.

Christian fiction challenges me to think and change.

Maybe not everyone reads fiction for this reason, but I appreciate a book that takes a little thought. For example, I loved Jill Williamson’s King’s Folly because it helped me think biblically about subjects like idolatry, justice, and systemic evil (big-picture evils like racism, sex trafficking, poverty). Obviously, the book was a fantasy novel with engaging characters and a page-turning plot, but it also made me think, and I appreciated that.

Another one coming up in January that I just finished is Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King. Not only did I learn about an entirely new historical setting—French colonial Louisiana—but several scenarios had me wondering, “What would I do if I were in this character’s place?” Any book that makes me think that—I’m in.

Christian fiction helps me understand people better.

Another one that’s yet-to-release (but in just a few weeks, guys, get excited) is Patrick Carr’s The Shattered Vigil. The fantasy novel’s main character is a detective who essentially has the ability to see others’ memories, absorb their emotions, and reveal their motives. I’m only halfway in, and there have already been so many insights about the characters that I have grown to love that I actually wrote on a sticky note, “Patrick, how do you understand people so deeply?” You can see it all over the story, which is what makes it so powerful and gripping.

Julie Klassen’s upcoming series starter The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill affected me in a similar way. The cast of characters was varied and fascinating, and since Julie has two more books to resolve all of their stories, she had plenty of time to develop each one, giving us their quirks and fears and hidden secrets. (As you can tell, I’m a sucker for large casts done really well.) I can’t wait to see the rest of the plotlines play out…and I’m sure come December, fans will have their opinions on how they would like to see a few couples matched up.

Fiction teaches me truth about people—the real-life characters around me—and I think people of faith often have the best insights on human nature because of their worldview. Sacrifice and betrayal, despair and hope, uncertainty and confidence…characters in Christian fiction have it all.

Christian fiction helps my faith come alive.

Sometimes I mean this in a literal way—books like Shadow of the Storm bring familiar Bible stories new meaning. Had I ever thought about what the wilderness wandering of the Israelites might have been like and the issues they struggled with? No. Was I very glad I did after reading Connilyn’s moving story? Yes, for sure.

Other times, it’s more subtle than that. The spiritual themes of a story will resonate with me in different places in my life. Lynn Austin’s Waves of Mercy shows God’s faithfulness even in times of doubt. Cold Shot reminds me of the freeing power of forgiveness. The Lost Heiress assures me of my standing as a beloved daughter of the heavenly Father. In some cases, the author directly meant for the message to come across. In others, I bring my experiences and struggles and learn along with the characters.

The dry, preachy sermons you hear about in discussions of Christian fiction probably exist…somewhere. But I haven’t encountered any lately. (See this post on the range of Christian content included in inspirational fiction.) Maybe people turning up their nose at Christian fiction just haven’t gotten the right recommendations yet.

I could keep going, of course, but those are the first four that comes to mind, and this post is already too long. Thanks for asking!

How about you? What are your favorite things about Christian fiction?

25 thoughts on “Ask BHP: What’s Your Favorite Thing About Christian Fiction?

  1. I love that fiction is able to flesh out Bible truth. We learn and don’t easily forget when truth comes to us through story. I am very thankful to have access to Christian fiction.

  2. I like Christian fiction for several reasons. Usually the main characters are already Christians and I feel like I can relate to them. We could be close friends in real life if these people would be real! 🙂 There’s a common bond.

    The lighthearted, fun books are amusing and relaxing to read. I can enjoy them for the characters and interesting situations without them replacing genuine humor with crude, off-color statements and bad language.

    Romance/love stories in Christian fiction always end on a positive note. I close the covers with a smile and feel that there are still good relationships and true love in the world. People who are not Christians could have a genuine example of what a love relationship should be in real life.

    God is usually mentioned in Christian fiction and it’s always an encouragement to know that a sinner or Christian could both choose one of these books and find rest and help for their souls.

  3. I have to agree with most of your points. Those are all things I like about Christian fiction. Probably what I like most, though, is the opportunity to learn, about other people, times, and lands, while being challenged in my Christian life.

  4. So many things I love about a good Christian fiction book!! I love how I can be encouraged in my faith! Challenged in my faith!! And reminded of simple truths that may have slipped my mind. I love how I can be taken out of a boring situation (like Waiting in a doctors office) and not wanting to move from a spot until I’ve finished just one more chapter.
    My favorite author Lynn Austin has a way of relating to my everyday life in far away places & times!
    I don’t mind a little romantic here & there but my favorite books have little to no romantic theme. Sometimes that can be just too much for me. I’d much rather be romanced by scripture or the truths of scripture.

  5. I totally agree with Sylvia Miller. I have been struggling in a certain area and every devotional and study I have picked up keeps addressing the same topic (😳). Then amazingly so did the Fiction Christian book I am reading. God does use these authors!
    They are uplifting and convicting. Throughout scripture we are taught through stories, we retain much more this way.

  6. Christian Fiction is a treasure trove of variety, both styles and subject matters. I too, have loved reading Connilyn Cossette and delving into the behind-the-scenes of the Exodus. I love beautiful romance between flawed characters who are in fact, redeemable. “Red Rose Bouquet” by Jennifer Rodewald comes to mind. I love learning about historical characters, ” Newton and Polly” by Jody Hedlund blew me away. Finally , I love being challenged to go deeper in my walk with the Lord, being challenged by books like (releases tomorrow) “Such a Hope” by Sondra Kraak. There’s a lot to love!

  7. I primarily read Christian Fiction and there are two things I love about it that are both concerning cleanliness. First my favorite kind is Suspense and it is tough finding secular suspense that doesn’t need an incredible amount of editing for language and sexual content which I have no desire to immerse myself in. Secondly they are novels that I can recommend to anyone without worrying about offending anyone (except for anti religious people and hey I’ll offend them with the gospel anytime 🙂 ), I never have to ask a parent if their teenager is allowed to be exposed to a certain level of content or warn someone who is really squeamish or defend why I like a novel despite certain sections. I enjoy being able to pick up a book in a Christian Bookstore and not knowing anything about the author be willing to give the book a go.

  8. I’m sure someone has already mentioned what I’m going to add, but I love a great story without the disappointment or frustration of having to pack it in because of language and sexual content. I love pretty much everything by Davis Bunn – suspense, mystery, fantasy, adventure – I love historical fiction, like the intense stuff the Thoenes write, and I love Patrick Carr’s fantasy series (A Cast of Stones). Not to mention Angela Hunt’s varied genres! I get to escape, I find myself challenged spiritually, I’m provoked to deep thought, I’m entertained till 2 am and still can’t put it down … what’s not to enjoy?!

  9. I love a clean Christian book. Romance, yes; sex, no; language – including the slang language Christians and authors are using in books totally turn me away, so no. I want a book I can deeply fall in love with that has great values that honor God. I love a book that has a way of teaching you history yet being entertaining. A book that is fiction but teaches you lessons in life.

  10. You’ve expounded on such great points, Amy! You kind of touched on one thing I really love about Christian fiction: a Christian worldview. Knowing I’m going to read a book that correctly discerns good vs evil, motives, and the true source of hope is important to me.

  11. I like Christian fiction because I know, without even knowing the author, that I’m not going to find any sleaze or smut, especially Bethany House. There is some sensual content in the romances but it’s never overtly descriptive and it always fits the story. I too love Melissa Tagg’s Rom-coms and Mary’s humor. I love Karen Witemeyer’s and Melissa Jagears’ Heroines and Heros. Good strong people of faith, even if they are a bit stubborn.
    I have to be honest, There was a time in my life where I was straying off the path just a little, Christian fiction brought me back to where I needed to be. The gentle reminders of God’s love for me and the examples of living and loving in Christian fiction were just what I needed.

  12. Christian fiction offers me all that I like in books without the trash I don’t like: profanity, crude humor, violence and explicit sex/ pornography. Plus it uplifts my faith and leaves me satisfied. Christian fiction offers so much variety from humor, to history, romance to mystery, and more! What’s not to love?!!!

  13. I like your comments, but the best thing to me is to be able to sit down and enjoy literature, grow spiritually and feel that I have not wasted a few hours of my life that I’m never going to get back! Perhaps that’s another benefit that my debut novel will bring when I launch it next year. I invite you to follow along:

  14. I enjoy reading Christian fiction because I don’t have to worry about foul language or sexually explicit scenes. Often times with historical fiction, I learn new things about history that I didn’t learn or wasn’t interested in then.
    I love the intrigue of mysteries and enjoy trying to figure out the ending (I never read the ending before I read the book.)
    I love a book that makes me afraid, cry or laugh and a book that I can’t wait to finish, but at the same time I don’t want to end.

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