Do you read "clean reads"? How do you define clean reads?

Bookish Question #95 | Do you read “clean reads”?

Let’s reverse the questions.

I see clean reads as Christian fiction without the Christian world view. Both clean reads and Christian fiction avoid nudity, sexual content, and bad language. Most also avoid violence. But Christian fiction has a Christian thread of some kind: Christian characters or Christian themes. Clean reads doesn’t.

Do I read clean reads?

Yes. Some of it is marketed as clean reads (Amazon has a clean and wholesome category). Some of it is marketed as Christian fiction, but has little or no Christian content. I’m finding an increasing number of novels from the big-name Christian publishers fall into this category, and it’s a trend I have mixed feelings about.

On one hand, I feel slightly disappointed when I pick up a novel expecting it to be Christian fiction, but find it’s “Christian lite”. On the other hand, I believe Christian authors and publishers need to consider how we reach the unchurched rather than preaching to the choir. Non-Christians aren’t shopping in Christian bookstores. They don’t visit the faith or inspirational section of major book chains. So how are we going to reach them?

Here’s an example.

Last year I read a review of The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale, published by Thomas Nelson. The review criticised the novel for not being sufficiently “Christian”. But one of the commenters said that same “not Christian” novel led her to Christ.


She said her (Christian) neighbour loaned her the book, but she’d never have read it if it had been obviously Christian fiction.

That example shows me the importance of Christians writing clean reads—novels that often reflect Christian values even if there is no mention of God or Jesus or the Christian faith.

Maybe I should be reading more “clean reads”. What about you? Do you read clean reads? Can you recommend some good authors?


  1. This has been on my mind a lot. My first book is releasing in May by a small press. It is Historical Christian Romance. The publisher is moving to publish clean reads rather than Christian, so I just finished writing my second book, written clean, but without any Christian references. I’m not sure how I like the book. It almost fell flat without the faith thread. But, I like the testimony you shared about the woman finding faith through a non-Christian book. That is encouraging to me!

    • I’ve also heard a story of a family who became Christians after the father read The Da Vinci Code! God can use anything – and if you’re praying over what you write, then I’m sure He can show Himself in your words, even if it’s not “Christian fiction.”

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