Christian fiction is a genre that espouses a Christian worldview. Unfortunately, because it has been branded as preachy, many libraries do not develop that part of their collection well. Amish fiction, a sub-genre of Christian fiction or "bonnet fiction" as it has come to be known, is mostly what readers will encounter in the library stacks. Although there are definite appeal factors to the Amish fiction, the Christian fiction genre has a great deal more to offer readers than its nomenclature might indicate.
So, what do librarians need to know? First, there are many types and strengths of Christian fiction, from the evangelical to the wispy thread of a spiritaul message that runs through a story. For example, Beverly Lewis is well known for her Amish fiction stories. Fans of this type of story love the inside look at the Amish tight-knit community and their strong faith. Ted Dekker on the other hand, writes psychological thrillers. In 2014 he published Eyes Wide Open. Fans of Shutter Island would love this one. There is a spiritual message, but it is very subtle.
Disney fans will love Jeff Dixon's fast-paced, action-adventure mysteries: Unlocking the Kingdom and Keys to the Kingdom. These feature preacher Grayson Hawkes, now the architect for Disney, ie., the person who runs the parks and ensures that Walt and Roy Disney's dreams for the park are carried out. Unfortunately, there are many people who would like that not to happen and try to stop him in any way they can.
Romance lovers will adore Robin Lee Hatcher, Francine Rivers, and Rachel Hauck to name a few. These writers are fairly prolific, any of their titles is sure to please.
There are many compelling stories to be found in this genre. I had the good fortune to interview Francine Rivers in 2014 and asked for her advice on what to tell reluctant readers of this genre. Her advice? Try one! You might like it!
I have to say I agree.
In our Readers Advisory quarterly book groups, I try to present at least two Christian fiction novels to our patrons. I put them out in our "Good Books You May Have Missed" displays. Oftentimes, serendipity puts these books in people's hands just when they need them the most.
I believe that is the true appeal of Christian fiction, a soul soothing read just when you need it most.