What Christian novel or author would you recommend to a non-Christian reader?
I’m finding an increasing number of the novels I’m reviewing from Christian fiction publishers are “Christian lite”. They have little or no mention of God or Jesus, none of the main characters are overtly Christian, and there is no faith journey. I know this bugs a lot of faithful Christian fiction readers.
Many of us read Christian fiction not just because we want a “clean” read, but because we want to vicariously experience the faith journey of a fictional character. So when a “Christian” novel isn’t, we can feel a little cheated. But I’ve been involved in many online discussions over the years that have shown me we need these novels.
Christian fiction can’t just preach to the choir.
Sometimes we have to crawl out of our comfortable pews and do our bit in fulfilling the Great Commission. We have to write books that will lead people closer to God.
This can come through the most unlikely of titles. One of my online friends has an Asian family in his church who became Christians after the father read The Da Vinci Code. The man had never heard of Jesus, and Dan Brown’s much maligned book prompted him to look into who Jesus was.
I’m not a betting woman, but I’m sure that leading people to Christ wasn’t on Dan Brown’s list of things to achieve with his story.
Closer to home, I recently read a Goodreads review of The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale. I haven’t read the book, and the reviewer was disappointed that it wasn’t overtly Christian. Another lady joined the discussion, saying she’d become a Christian as a result of reading the book.
The commenter went on to say she’d been loaned the book by a Christian neighbour, and she never would have agreed to read it if it had been overtly Christian. In fact, she’d written to the author to share her conversion story, and the author was suitably thrilled and humbled.
Isn’t that what it’s about? Drawing people closer to Jesus—Christian and non-Christian?
Last week, I was listening to the Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, and the reviewers were talking about which romance books they recommend to non-romance readers. One—who isn’t a Christian, as far as I know—said she often recommends books by Deeanne Gist to readers she doesn’t know well, because she knows there won’t be any rauchy content in them that might offend some people.
Yet Deeanne Gist is a Christian author—one who has switched from traditional Christian fiction for a CBA publisher to “Christian lite” romances for a general market publisher. Gist’s newer books are still written from a Christian world view, but don’t have an overt faith element. Yet here they are, being recommended on one of the biggest general market romance review sites.
That’s not preaching to the choir.
So here’s the tough question. If you were in the position to loan your non-Christian neighbour a Christian novel, what novel or author would you suggest they read?