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A Countdown of the Most “Feared” Genres: Christian Fiction

Post by Joyce Saricks
Posted November 05, 2015 in Readers' Advisory News

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In our recent webcast, Appealing to Genre Readers, we asked all attendees about their "most feared" genres -- those genres always give them pause when working with readers. Joyce Saricks shares her tips for appealing to fans of each of these genres. Don't miss #4: Horror and #3: Westerns.

And now for #2: Christian Fiction. Christian Fiction may be the most provocative type of book in our libraries, hands down. Luckily, readers are usually very specific about what they’re looking for. We librarians like to view the subject more broadly -- inspirational fiction -- and add titles that don’t have the religious underpinnings. But, in my experience, that’s not what the fans want. They look for titles from particular publishers; they count on them to provide the message and validation they seek.

Christian Fiction includes a wide range of genres: fantasy, science fiction, westerns, romances, historical fiction, thrillers and suspense, supernatural novels that verge on horror. As always, it’s a good idea to have read at least one novel to have a sense of how it flows. Try one in a genre you enjoy and know: Ted Dekker’s thrillers; prairie historical novels by authors such as Janette Oke; novels set in Biblical times by authors like Brock and Bodie Thoene or Francine Rivers, whose novels are often reprinted; novels featuring pastors like those by Phillip Gulley and Jan Karon; Julie Klassen’s historical romances; or Joel Rosenberg’s fast-paced political thrillers. Perhaps the most unlikely trend is the flurry of Amish romances; Beverly Lewis started it all with The Shunning in 1997, and now there are more than two dozen authors who write of the Plain People and their efforts to keep their religious beliefs alive in the modern world.

Although we do find reviews of these titles, we should turn to readers in our community for a sense of what they like -- which genres, which authors, which publishers -- and make an effort to meet their interests. Like every reader, they love to share their favorites.

Joyce G. Saricks is a library consultant who worked from 1977 until her retirement in 2004 at the Downers Grove Public Library (IL) where she developed and directed the Literature and Audio Services Department, the heart of which involved working with fiction readers and books. She is the author of three books: Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library, Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, and Read On: Audiobooks. She is a columnist and Audio Editor for Booklist, and she also writes for NoveList. She reads voraciously and is addicted to audiobooks. Contact Joyce at and follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Joyce.