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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Men and Christian Fiction

Today's post is all about guys! 

photo of a man and his son

What do men want from Christian fiction?

For example, I've heard that women (at least my age) want stronger (and less wishy washy) Christian heroines and more realistic stories (because life is not perfect). 

But what do men want? 

If you're a man, I'd like your thoughts on Christian fiction.

(1) Where do you purchase Christian fiction (online, Christian bookstores, secular bookstores, etc. [or maybe you don't buy it at all])?
(2) How do you find out about books/authors (word of mouth, book reviews online, blogs, etc.)?
(3) Why do you read Christian fiction/what do you like about it?
(4) Conversely, why do you not read Christian fiction/what do you dislike about it?
(5) Who are your favorite Christian authors?
(6) Who are your favorite secular authors?


  1. I'll be the first one to bite. 1. I frankly don't typically buy Christian fiction unless it's from an author I trust (Peretti, for example). For almost everyone else, I'll check out books at the library or try a free Kindle download. If it's a keeper, I'll buy it. If not, I'll borrow it. If I buy, it's typically 2. I watch authors I like and wait for the next book. For new authors, I watch online buzz. But again, I never buy a book unseen from an author I've never read. I've been disappointed that way. 3. I like to find good reads that stay far away from foul language, sexual situations, etc. I also like to see biblical themes woven into the story. If the spiritual content is weak or nearly absent, I'm disappointed. 4. I hate sappy romance in which physical attraction goes over the line and flirts too much with sexual lust. That's distasteful in Christian fiction, and I'll put the book down because of it. I hate domineering female leads (actually, most "strong females" I've seen in Christian fiction are overdone). I hate foul language, vulgarity, and bad theology. 5. Frank Peretti, Tim Downs, Steven James, Athol Dickson. 6. Terry Brooks, Jeff Shaara, J.R.R. Tolkien, Leif Enger. Most secular authors are a mixed bag for me. Some novels are good; others I couldn't stand and could never recommend (due to content problems). I hope this helps.

  2. Adam, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input!

  3. I love reading fiction and I've read widely - from classics to romance to western to suspense and so on. Christian fiction doesn't always appeal to me because I want more than simple "Sunday School" answers.

    I don't think as Christians we should suspend our minds or be content with fluffy, light-weight answers. On the contrary, we should be great thinkers. As Phillip Yancey points out in "The Bible Jesus Read" so much of the Scriptures reflect man grappling with deep questions and wrestling with God (see Job, Ecclesiastes, etc.). He notes that Job's friends trotted out their simple explanations and proffered their "wise" advice - and they were completely off base, resulting in God criticizing them quite harshly at the end.

    I find that secular books have lots to offer if you analyze them from a Christian worldview.

    A few examples of really good quality secular writing that may be explored from a faith perspective include:

    The Count of Monte Cristo -- this is such a deep book and the themes of love, faithfulness, revenge, etc. serve to get one thinking. There are no easy answers to these questions/challenges and the Count's struggle to deal with them is what makes the book meaningful.

    Indecent Proposal - clearly a secular book but it raises many interesting questions that must ultimately be approached through the lens of Christian faith. The Jewish-Arab dimension in the book was intriguing. I didn't see the movie but I believe they dropped that out when they made the movie.

    A Christmas Carol -- as compelling as any Christian fiction work.

    Pride and Prejudice, Emma -- I loved these and there's a lot more than just the surface level content if you think about it.

    The Day of the Triffids, Fahrenheit 451 -- both explore deep themes.

    I really think you could write a Bible study around each of these books!

    Sorry that I didn't answer your questions directly but I hope that I gave you some insights. My goal is to write Christian fiction that explores deep themes without settling for easy and overly simplistic solutions. I'm not there yet!

    1. Brett, thank you for your input. I also enjoyed Count of Monte Cristo and Fahrenheit 451. Another secular book that I'd add to your list would be Frankenstein.

  4. Hi Heidi,
    I read voraciously. Fiction and nonfiction. For Christian fiction, I want strong stories with movement. I've run across a couple lately by well-known authors that just don't seem to go anywhere. Endless conversations while the story advances very slowly. It doesn't have to be non-stop action but show me we're going somewhere. A little romance is fine as long as it's not the primary theme of the book. I want real characters but I don't want them all running from the past or suffering from some weakness that's about to overcome them. I want strong Christians, who while fallible, usually do the right thing.

    I'm afraid much of Christian fiction is limiting itself to female readers through book cover design. A cover with a woman in a frilly dress is not going to attract male readers although the content might be right up their alley. I have to admit that I occasionally feel a tinge of embarrassment at my library checkout counter with a supply of books like that as I read to learn the craft of writing suspense novels.

    I buy books online, in stores, borrow from the library. For Christian suspense/crime/etc novels, I like Janice Cantore, J. Mark Bertrand, Dani Pettrey, Tim Downs, Sibella Giorello, Kristen Heitzmann, and many others.

    Wes Harris


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