Tag Archives: Christian fiction

Book Discussions in Christian Fiction, October 2014

Book Discussions in Christian FictionOctober has been dubbed National Reading Group Month.  If you love reading, but don’t regularly participate in a book discussion club, what better time to start!

Check out your local libraries, bookstores, and churches to connect with an in-person book discussion group, or consider forming one of your own with a few friends.

And if you’re looking for an online discussion, I’m featuring links below to some discussions happening this month that may interest you.

While you’re here, consider following my blog for recommended books, discussion questions, monthly links to online discussions, book group tips, and more for fans of Christian fiction.

ACFW Book Club

  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron.  October 20-25 via email list.  I already have my copy in hand and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Discussion begins October 15th.

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

Christian Fiction Book Club on Facebook

  • To be announced.

Award Winning Christian and Inspirational Fiction

Award Winners

Award Winners (Image Courtesy openclipart)

Thinking of delving more into the world of Christian Fiction? Wondering where to start? You could read and subscribe to blogs like this one for reviews. You could browse the best seller lists to see what’s been popular recently. And you could ask friends for their recommendations. Personally, I think those are all great options, and I highly recommend them. But there’s another option for finding good Christian fiction that I want to talk about today, and it’s a favorite of mine. Award winners.

The beauty of seeking out award winners in Christian fiction is that the hard work of narrowing down the field to identify some of the best stories has already been done for you. Granted, you may not wind up loving every award winning title, because your tastes may differ from that of the judges. But then again, there had to have been something special about a book for it to rise above the other possibilities and catch the attention of the judges. So if you’re looking for something special, read on to find out about some of the top fiction awards in Christian publishing today, and to find out which novels have won those awards or been featured as finalists.

Christy Awards

The Christy Awards have been described as the “Oscars” of Christian fiction.  They are annual awards to recognize Christian novels of excellence copyrighted in the preceding year in a variety of genres.  The judges are drawn from among librarians, literary critics and others not directly affiliated with a publishing company, and the winners are announced at the annual International Christian Retail Show in June.  I’ve personally found some great reads by browsing their lists of past winners.  The official Christy Award Web site provides additional information about the awards including the origin of the name, as well as a list of past winners.

Carol Awards

The Carol Awards also aim to recognize some of the “best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.”  These awards are brought to you by ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and the winners are announced at the annual ACFW Conference in September.  These awards cover a wide range of genres and categories within Christian fiction.  The ACFW Web site includes more information about the awards, as well as annual lists of winners from 2002 to the present.

ECPA Christian Book Awards

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, bestows the honor of the ECPA Christian Book Awards, formerly known as the Gold Medallion.  Their awards cover a wide range of categories including Bibles, Non-fiction, Children’s Materials, and Inspiration.  All genres of Fiction are considered in selecting the winner within the Fiction category.  The Christian Book Awards Web page gives more information about the awards and links to past award winners.

RITA Award, Inspirational Category

The RITA award is given by the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA) “to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.”  This award has been given in a variety of categories since 1982, with the Inspirational category being introduced in 1995.  The winners are announced at RWA’s annual conference in July.  More information about the awards and a list of past winners is available on the RWA Web site.

INSPY Awards

The INSPYs Web site describes the INSPY Awards as “The Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.”  These awards are judged by bloggers, and they invite nominations of faith inspired books in a variety of genres, not just from specific Christian publishers, but also from the general publishing market.  Nominations begin in December and the winners are announced in June.  This is a newer award, with winners from 2010, 2011, and 2013 thus far.  Visit their Web site for more about the awards.

Grace Awards

The Grace Awards are a reader driven award for faith-based fiction. This award differs from others listed here in that it considers self-published books in print and/or electronic formats alongside traditionally published books. For more information or to browse award winners, visit the official Grace Awards blog.

Did you find any of your favorite Christian fiction titles on these lists?  Any titles you’re looking forward to reading?  Leave a comment and let us know!  And please take a second to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or by Subscribing to the blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Note: This page was last updated on 1/15/2015.

Best Selling Christian Fiction: The Lists

For general fiction, there are plenty of best seller lists to consult if you want to get an idea of what books are popular.  Well known publishers of best seller lists include the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, the American Booksellers Association, and large retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  Each source uses its own methodology to compile its list, and the results will vary accordingly.

For Christian Fiction, there are likewise, a variety of sources of best seller lists, including associations and large retailers.  By browsing these lists, you can get an idea for the titles that may be popular at any given time among Christian and Inspirational Fiction titles.

Best Seller Lists

Best Seller Lists

ECPA Bestsellers (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association): The lists are compiled monthly based on sales in various retail outlets nationwide.  Visit their site for more specifics about their methodology.

CBA Bestsellers (The Association for Christian Retail): Monthly listings of the Top 50 books selling in Christian stores, monthly listings of more specific categories including fiction, and weekly glimpses into the top books selling in selected categories.

Amazon.com: Lists are updated hourly using a proprietary formula that takes into account both recent and historical sales by this retailer.  Within the Christian Fiction category, there are separate lists for Bestselling Books, Bestselling eBooks, and Most Popular Free eBooks.  And if you’re looking for a particular genre within Christian fiction, you can select that genre for a more specific list.

Barnes & Noble: Their Christian Fiction & Literature offerings can be sorted by Best Selling, and you can limit the list to show only physical books or NOOK books if you wish.

Christianbook.com: Their fiction offerings can be sorted by Bestseller.  You can limit the results to one of more than a dozen subcategories by genre if you’re looking for something specific.

You may have noticed that I used the terms Best Seller, Best-Seller, and Bestseller interchangeably.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement over which is the correct or accepted spelling, so I attempted to use the term that a given list uses when referring to that list.

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Discovering Christian Fiction

I have been a Christian and a bookworm for as long as I can remember.  But it was only a few years ago that I discovered and embraced Christian fiction.  I think I knew in the back of my mind that it was out there.  But I thought it was the stuff that sat ignored in those bookstores where you go to buy a nice Bible, or the latest devotional, or a wall hanging featuring a pretty pastoral scene and a Bible verse.  And not the kind of thing you might want to read for enjoyment.

Inspirational Wall Hanging

Inspirational Wall Hanging

I assumed Christian fiction was for the type of Christian who was afraid of regular fiction.  The type of Christian who avoids movie theaters out of principle regardless of what’s showing and who considers dancing a sin worse than sex out of wedlock.  I figured that if I wanted to be edified, I’d read the Bible or a nonfiction Christian book, and if I wanted to be entertained, I’d read whatever fiction was popular in the world at large.

Now that I’m reading more Christian fiction, and writing it, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that it suffers from a lot of false assumptions and overgeneralizations.  And that Christians would do well to read more of it, and talk more about what they’re reading.  Allow me to explain.

Some say Christian fiction is too preachy or didactic.  That the stories aren’t stories so much as thinly veiled evangelism.  While I’m sure you could find examples to support that idea, I’ve found that many of the best authors of Christian fiction (and fiction in general) avoid “telling” in favor of “showing.”  When the characters are allowed to make mistakes, face the consequences and learn from them, and when the Christian element arises naturally from the characters and the situations they’re facing, it doesn’t come across as preachy.  It comes across as thought-provoking and discussable.  And in my opinion, that makes for good reading.

Some say Christian fiction is too bland.  That it’s been sanitized and pasteurized until there’s no life left in it.  Let’s just say that some Christian novels are kinder and gentler than others.  Some readers are looking simply for a clean, safe read.  Others want to be challenged by more complicated and potentially controversial themes and ideas.  And there are Christian authors and novels out there appealing to both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between, with entertaining and enjoyable books.  It might just take a little digging to find the authors and titles that will appeal to any given individual.  But is that surprising?  Even in the general fiction market, not every author appeals to every reader to the same degree.

What I think a lot of Christians don’t realize is just how much Christian fiction is published and how widely varied it is.  Whatever your preferred genre or style of writing, there’s a good chance Christian fiction offers it – romance, mystery, suspense, science fiction, historical, literary.  You name it, chances are, it’s out there.  The problem as I see it, is that most libraries and secular bookstores carry a very limited selection of Christian fiction, and few people take the time to look beyond what’s readily available.  Even Christian bookstores tend to stock only a fraction of what’s out there.  Publishers, bookstores, and libraries try to guess at what will be popular, and supply that kind of book, but it’s an imperfect process.  The good news (or bad news, depending on your perspective) is that what’s readily available is impacted by what sells.

So here’s my suggestion.  If you’re a Christian, who hasn’t read much Christian fiction and are open to trying it, start seeking it out.  Consider reading not just one book by one author, but a wide sampling of it.  Read across sub-genres and across publishing houses.  And when you find a book or an author you love, write reviews and tell your friends.  Chances are, they’ll love it too, and when they buy their copies, sales increase, publishers take note, and more books of that type will be available in the future.  While you’re at it, ask those same friends for recommendations.  Most likely they can recommend some titles you’d love to read too.  And as more Christians read Christian fiction, the publishing industry will discover there really is a market for it, and a greater variety will become more readily available in bookstores and libraries.

In my opinion, it’s worth a little digging to find books you’ll love.  There are a lot of gems out there in the world of Christian fiction just waiting to be discovered.  I’ll be blogging here about some of the books and authors I’m reading as I continue to explore the world of Christian fiction, so consider subscribing to my blog and reading along with me.

Do you have any favorite titles or authors when it comes to Christian fiction?  What is it you like about them?  Please share your comments below, so the rest of us can seek out those books.