Leap of Faith: 30 Works of Christian Fiction Across a Range of Genres | Collection Development

Discover new authors and revisit old favorites with the following list of books and websites for Christian fiction readers who are looking for something fresh and different. 

Novels that illustrate a Christian worldview within their plots have been a longtime fixture in libraries. Classic Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis, Catherine Marshall, and G.K. Chesterton have remained important parts of most collections. In the 1990s, Christian fiction’s popularity surged as Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s "Left Behind" series and works from Janette Oke, Gilbert Morris, and Frank Peretti appeared on best seller lists. Amish fiction from authors such as Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, and Shelley Shepard Gray has a devoted fanbase. Christian historical fiction, romance, suspense, fantasy, and general fiction have all maintained popularity.

With the decline and closure of many Christian bookstores over the last few years, many readers rely on the library as their main source for Christian fiction. For these patrons, it is the only way to discover new authors and revisit old favorites, which is why it is important for libraries to continue building and maintaining these collections.

While most books do not fall under any specific denomination, many publishers are part of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), and their books reflect that organization’s mission of making the Gospel more widely known. Shadow Mountain Publishing also offers numerous series for Christian fiction fans. Their Proper Romance line features historical and contemporary titles for readers seeking to avoid explicit sex or violence on the page.

Currently, Christian fiction publishers are looking beyond their traditional readership to a more general audience. Books are labeled inspirational fiction, clean fiction, or faith-based fiction. Characters maintain their faith but the stories aren’t preachy or full of sermons and scripture, chaste characters, conservative views, or drawn-out conversion scenes.

Instead, characters are aware of their flaws, enjoy an occasional glass of wine, date freely, and are able to enjoy life while maintaining their faith. Being Christian is not the primary theme of these stories, but simply one aspect of characters’ journeys. The genre also includes titles that deal with struggling with one’s faith and leaving the church. Additionally, topics such as drug addiction, emotional abuse, homelessness, and social justice issues have made their way into the books. These themes were absent from earlier phases of the genre’s development, but have become central to many contemporary stories.

Diversity is an area where Christian fiction has a lot of room to improve. There are few authors of color among the big Christian fiction publishing houses, and characters of color are few and far between.

The following list of books and websites is a resource for Christian fiction readers who are looking for something different. Starred (redstar) reviews are essential for most libraries.


Deborah Khuanghlawn is Library Associate, Arlington County Public Library, VA.


 

GENERAL FICTION

Denton, Lauren K. The Summer House. Thomas Nelson. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780785232537. $27.
Southern fiction about two women who form an unlikely friendship and embark on new journeys that take them in unexpected directions.

redstarFinkbeiner, Susie. All Manner of Things. Revell. 2019. 448p. ISBN 9780800735692. pap. $16.
This coming-of-age story takes place during the Vietnam era, emphasizing how war affects an entire family.

Linden, Rachel. The Enlightenment of Bees. Thomas Nelson. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780785221401. pap. $17.
This book could be categorized as travel lit and tackles issues not typically seen in traditional Christian fiction, such as humanitarian aid, refugee camps, and reality shows.

Pearson, Robin W. A Long Time Comin’. Tyndale House. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781496441881. $26. pap. ISBN 9781496441539. $16.
This story deals with family secrets and coming to grips with the past.

redstar Phoenix, Michele. Fragments of Light. Thomas Nelson. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780785232056. pap. $17.
A woman who seems to have lost everything helps an elderly friend find out what happened to her paratrooper father who disappeared during World War II.

Smucker, Shawn. Light from Distant Stars. Revell. 2019. 397p. ISBN 9780800728519. pap. $15.
When Cohen stumbles over his father’s murdered body in the family funeral home, he fears he might be responsible for his death.


HISTORICAL

Chiavaroli, Heidi. Freedom’s Ring. Tyndale House. 2017. 388p. ISBN 9781496423122. pap. $15.
A ring connects the two narratives in this novel that takes place in the present and during the Revolutionary War. The story deals with the effects of the Boston Marathon bombing and tackles the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder.

redstarDykes, Amanda. Set the Stars Alight. Bethany House. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780764232671. pap. $16.
Stars, ships, and the sea all figure in this dual timeline historical fiction about a forensic astronomer, a marine archeologist, and a 200-year-old mystery.

Green, Amy Lynn. Things We Didn’t Say. Bethany House. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780764237164. pap. $16.
Green’s epistolary novel set during World War II will appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Hunt, Angela. Egypt’s Sister. Bethany House. 2017. 379p. ISBN 9780764219320. pap. $16.
This first in a well-researched biblical fiction series focuses on the life of Cleopatra from the viewpoint of her childhood friend.

Klassen, Julie. The Bridge to Belle Island. Bethany House. 2019. 391p. ISBN 9780764218194. pap. $16.
A lawyer is sent to a secluded island to investigate a murder in this 19th-century-set gothic that will appeal to fans of Jane Eyre and Jane Austen.

Kirkpatrick, Jane. One More River To Cross. Revell. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780800727024. pap. $16.
Pioneers attempt to reach California in a Donner Party-like situation. Kirkpatrick is known for well-researched historical novels.

redstarMcMillan, Rachel. The London Restoration. Thomas Nelson. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780785235026. pap. $17.
Set in post-World War II London, this is glorious historical fiction with themes of code breaking and archaeology. For fans of Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff.


MYSTERY/THRILLER

Lee, Tosca. The Line Between. Howard. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9781501169090. pap. $17.
For readers looking for apocalyptic fiction, this story has it all: religious cults, global warming, and a worldwide pandemic.

Mitchell, Siri. State of Lies. Thomas Nelson. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780785228615. pap. $17.
Set in the DC Metro area, this politically tinged thriller about a physicist whose life is in danger will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Walters, Natalie. Deadly Deceit. Revell. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780800735333. pap. $15.
Suspense, along with a dash of romance, is the focus as a reporter stumbles across a murder scene and small-town secrets are gradually revealed.

redstarWright, Jaime Jo. The Curse of Misty Wayfair. Bethany House. 2019. 383p. ISBN 9780764230301. pap. $15.
This split-time, gothic mystery filled with suspense and spine-tingling moments will keep readers on edge.


ROMANCE

Camden, Elizabeth. The Spice King. Bethany House. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780764232114. pap. $16.
Camden’s historical romance combines plant science with sparks of chemistry between a reclusive tycoon and a determined botanist.

Deese, Nicole. Before I Called You Mine. Bethany House. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780764234958. pap. $15.
This charming romantic comedy has a matchmaking teacher trying to resist the charms of a coworker.

redstarDonaldson, Julianne. Edenbrooke. Shadow Mountain. 2012. 264p. ISBN 9781609089467. pap. $16.
A fan favorite, this is a lush-but-chaste historical romance that pays homage to works such as Pride and Prejudice and The Princess Bride.

Ferguson, Melissa. The Dating Charade. Thomas Nelson. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780785231004. pap. $16.
This romantic comedy is lighthearted while still addressing heavier issues such as foster parenting and addiction.

Isaac, Kara. Then There Was You. Bellbird. 2017. 344p. ISBN 9780473396534. pap. $14.
A young woman decides to uproot her life to travel to the other side of the globe for a new job as a megachurch logistics planner. Sparks fly when she meets a worship band leader. Set in Australia and New Zealand.

Kilpack, Josie. Promises and Primroses. Shadow Mountain. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781629724577. pap. $16.
A governess falls for her widower employer despite her mother’s warnings about his family in this enticing Regency period.

redstarLaureano, Carla. The Saturday Night Supper Club. Tyndale House. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9781496420244. pap. $15.
Laureano’s first book in a trilogy featuring three friends in the restaurant business is perfect for foodies.

Lowe, T.I. Lulu’sCafé. Tyndale House. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781496439505. pap. $7.99.
Lowe ably takes on spousal abuse, a topic not often covered in Christian fiction, in this Southern small-town story.

Turner, Bethany. Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish. Revell. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780800735234. pap. $16.
Humor, romance, and food combine in Turner’s winning story of celebrity chefs.

Vetsch, Erica. The Lost Lieutenant. Kregel. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780825446177. pap. $16.
Fans of Mary Balogh will delight in this marriage-of-convenience Regency tale.

redstarVogt, Beth. Things I Never Told You. Tyndale House. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781496427243. pap. $16.
Realistic and flawed characters make for an absorbing tale in this first book in a series about a family of sisters.
 

SPECULATIVE

Carr, Patrick. A Cast of Stones. Bethany House. 2013. 429p. ISBN 9780764210433. pap. $18.
The worldbuilding and medieval-like history in the first book in Carr’s "The Staff and the Stone" trilogy will please fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Dekker, Ted. The 49th Mystic. Revell. 2019. 432p. ISBN 9780800735982. pap. $18.
For fans of Dekker’s epic "Circle" series, this volume returns to the realm first introduced in the novel Black.


WEBSITES

Christy Awards. christyawards.com
The Christy Awards are a program of the ECPA and are named after Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel Christy.

Family Fiction. familyfiction.com
With up-to-the-minute Christian fiction news, author interviews, and information about upcoming releases, this is a go-to hub for Christian fiction fans.

INSPY Awards. inspys.com
The INSPY Awards are given by book bloggers to exceptional faith-driven books from both the Christian Booksellers Association and general markets.

Relz Reviewz. relzreviewz.com
Since 2006, Rel Mollet’s book blog has been a trusted source for book reviews, author interviews, cover reveals, and new release roundups. 


This article was originally published in Library Journal's August 2020 issue.

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