I think most of you have heard me mention or review a book I have “read” by listening to on Overdrive. It is an app on my phone through the local library. It is the best app I have downloaded. I only have a couple ‘rules’ about the books I read. If it is fiction it needs to be something I wouldn’t normally carry here in the store, with the exception being if it is for my bookclub and have no other chance to read it.
The other rule is if I really am not enjoying the book, then it really is okay to stop listening to it. But I do have to give it at least two trips to and from work before I make that decision. It has only happened twice. One book turned out to be basically the characters running around sleeping with anyone and everyone and making crude jokes – not at all what the book was advertised as and the other the reader of the book had a voice that was way to tedious to enjoy the book. I actually found myself not listening to the book most of the time and so never had any idea what was going on.
There is another aspect of this that I had never thought of. It has shown me a glaring problem in Christian fiction. Now before I get to that problem I have to say, there is tons of really good Christian fiction. There are many that have become friends of mine and sit on my bookshelves at home. I love them, recommend them and will someday, reread them. So I am not trying to throw out all of Christian fiction, this is just something I find missing.
That thing is the book that is just a good story. Something that isn’t trying to make a point, that isn’t trying to get me to learn Bible verses or listen to a sermon. Something that lets me wrestle with the moral dilemma or character’s choices. One that just never tells me the right or wrong on those choice and how I might agree or disagree with them. A book where happily ever after just might be missing from the end of the book. (I can’t tell you how many books I have read in the Christian market that has an ending set 6 months later so people are saved, married or expecting a child or all of the above)
I just finished a book that will soon be on my shelves here at the store. Overall all was a good read. I love the premise of the book and yet conveniently the main character went to church every 4th or 5th chapter and we all got a lovely sermon. *Sigh* Not really part of the story, it was included so the main character could soon arrive at an epiphany that made sure we all had the plan of salvation.
This story really didn’t need it, but somewhere along the line, that is what Christian fiction has become. Only about the status quo. If it worked once, lets continue doing it. Now again, let me say, we do need those books, people read them and love them. But there are others who want that in-depth story that they have to wrestle with more. I am having trouble finding that title without a Christian lesson in it in the Christian market, but I am finding it in the secular market.
My pleas are not just for authors as I know authors who are or are trying to write books like this, but to publishers. Challenge us as readers. Make us question things and struggle with what our characters do. It might even make us bump heads once and a while with other readers, but of course that is so much fun for us readers.
Those are just some thoughts I have