I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I’m still trying to reach my goal of 225 books for 2014 (I’m currently at 144 books) so I have about 3 and a half more months to go to read about 80 books.
One of the book bloggers that I follow (S. Krishna’s Books) tweeted this the other day:
I thought that was interesting because for me the majority of books I read are written by white women. In fact out of those 144 books, only 8 were NOT written by white women. 6 of those authors were white men and the other 2 were POC authors (Asian women to be exact). That’s a rather dismal statistic. In 2013, I read 217 books. Again only 8 of those authors were NOT written by white female authors (2 male, 6 POC).
The reason why my books are geared towards this way? The majority of what I read is Christian fiction.
And that’s is incredibly sad.
I’ve been reading Christian fiction for most of my life since I was 8 years old. I’ve watched the market change throughout the years and there has been a lot of good that’s been done.
However I’ve also accepted the fact that there are some things about Christian fiction that are just not going to change.
The market is targeted at a specific kind of reader (white middle class Middle American woman who is usually a mother). There is nothing wrong with that type of market. That just usually tends to be who the authors are as well. And they write what they know. What is super popular in Christian fiction these days? Amish fiction, historical romances, and contemporary romances. All three of these genres do not really appeal to me, though I will admit sometimes I can find good books among the weeds. I’ve accepted the fact that since I do not fall into the demographics for the market, I will never be completely satisfied with the market itself.
I’m not asking for edgy fiction. I’ll just read books outside the Christian market if I wanted that. I realize that a lot of authors don’t want to write about what they don’t know because it can sound not authentic. Ok, I can understand that. You don’t want to come across as sounding fake. It just gets me that so many of these stories feel like the characters just live in a bubble. Barely any POC characters. Maybe a few people will go through some hardships. Barely anyone questions things. To want to further your education or move to a big city for a job is a bad thing. Romances happen after 2 hours of knowing someone and marriages take place after 2 months.
I know it’s hard because you don’t want to offend people. But it just feels like to me that it only happens like that in the Christian world. I don’t see general market authors having such strict guidelines on how or what to write in fear of offending group of readers. No wonder why Amish books are so popular. It’s so….safe.
Why then do I keep reading the books? I ask myself this question all the time. It’s not that I don’t read outside of this market. I also read a lot of general market young adult fiction as well as general market contemporary women’s fiction. I will also pick up a random book out of my normal reads from time to time and find it liking to my taste. Yet I still find myself going back to the Christian fiction for the majority of what I read.
Another book blogger (Relz Reviewz) asked this question on her blog the other day: “Do you prefer a “comfort” read or something “out of the box” in Christian fiction?” She talked about there were some authors who when writing their books, they know what sells and what their audience wants. Therefore their stories have a same formula to them where the story and the characters are so similar that it’s completely interchangeable almost to the point of predictable. They’re comfort reads because you know what to expect. And in Christian fiction there’s A LOT of these.
I’ve accepted the fact that I’m never going to be fully satisfied with the market. It’s never going to cater to exactly how I want but then again just like many things in the Christian world, there are so many personal preferences that cause dissention among everyone. I know that what I CAN do is continue to seek out writers and books that do understand that there are more readers than the targeted demographic and talk about their books (future post!).