Linda Johnson is starting a discussion on how you select your Christian fiction. Only those with a message of salvation through Jesus? Those that mention God/praying/faith? Those that are just clean and a good or inspiring story? We have all of the above in our section, but wondering how others make the decision whether to keep a book or not.
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I have found a lot of helpful suggestions and discussions on Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook page. There are quite a few Christian fiction authors who also participate. Very helpul. For example, someone posted that they are looking for Christmas fiction novels that are not romances recently and I learned about some great novels I had not heard of before.
my inclination is clean stories for adults Andrew Greely is an older writer 70's or more at this point so not anything new. He is a catholic priest who writes about Irish catholics in Chicago. He has 2 series and several stand alones and some trilogies they are all in the same world so it is kind of fun reading his books since you never know who you will see in his books that you saw in some other books. some are even mysteries. I'm also considering Nancy Atherton she writes an excelent non blood guts and gore puzzle mystery series mainly in England there are some moments when you go oh no not good but it all works out. There are also the Elm Creek Quilt books they are about friends who are quilters. The Dean Koontz Odd Thomas books aren't too bad they are kind of out there but have some decent messages about heaven and interesting ideas about what happens after we die. I am not convinced they would work for church library though you would have to read and see what you think they are kind of out there and definitely not religous. our library has some 60's or 70's thrillers haven't read yet so don't know if pull or keep yet so keep for now. kids I am leaning toward classics and clean stories.
I am a little embarrassed by some Christian fiction. Some of them are almost "bodice-rippers," and there is too much Amish fiction out there for ny taste. I'm also sometimes embarrassed by the poor editing. Aside from that I choose fiction that supports Christian ideals, is well-written, and also challenges me to examine life in a way I think reflects what our Lord exemplified
Poor editing is a hot button for me. I can't believe how many books suffer from it.
I try to have CF that has a good redeeming quality to them. But we do have some that just had a casual mention of faith and is just a good clean story. But most have a deeper salvation, faith element to it. I have read some that I didn't have any Christian experience in them and removed them. One reason is that we have limited space so I'm pretty picky.
We've had lots of conversation in our library about this in recent years. It happens occasionally that a patron will bring back a book she just read (it's always a woman, as far as I can remember) and question why we have it in the library. Sometimes it's because it has no (to them) discernable Christian elements in it, or no ultimate redemption, or too much of one undesirable thing or another in it. Of course there have been books like that for a long time, but I do think that Christian authors are currently branching out a bit more in terms of writing stories which aren't specifically, obviously Christian in content, even though the author's Christian worldview is foundational in their writing. I struggle quite a bit with how to address this because personally, I'd rather a story were well-written and real but not specifically, blatantly Christian, than something poorly written but containing a gospel message or obviously Christian characters.
Full disclosure: I'm an author myself.
When it comes to adult fiction, I only suggest books that are written by Christians and align with a Christian worldview. It's fine if the book is written for a secular market as long as it meets the other two criteria (a lot of my author friends are indie and write for the secular market out of their Christian faith). When I look at children's fiction, I tend to recommend books that are also just really good clean reads, but that's because most of the Christian fiction I've found for kids isn't very good quality, either in prose or illustration. I have four kids and I'm constantly looking for books they can read without me cringing. The public library isn't safe for my children to browse anymore, especially my middle schooler, so I have to cast a wide net to find good resources.
I totally agree with you about children's fiction. I find much of Christian fiction for kids to be dismally bad and cringeworthy. Though I'm in my 60's, I still love children's fiction and read a lot of it, but most of it is secular because that tends to be where I find good, well-written stories. Many of them are older, though, and therefore likely not part of the 'unsafe' books you mentioned...and I agree with you that public libraries are somewhat of a minefield these days and that is rarely where I find children's books I want to read. I do recommend RJ Anderson, in case you haven't read her books yet. They are for kids and they are good ones.
I totally agree with Laura and Debbie. I also keep Classics on the fiction shelves, especially when I can get them with Christian commentary.
I have lots of mutual friends with R.J. and hope to meet her someday! I need to grab a few of her books for the church library. Thanks for the reminder!