I’ve spent the better part of the past six years connected to a variety of online circles in which Catholic fiction is not only known, but loved and nourished. So when I step outside that literary bubble, I’m sometimes surprised to be reminded that many people – even practicing Catholics who are voracious fiction devourers – have yet to discover contemporary Catholic fiction.
Maybe they’ve never searched beyond the shelves of the big-box bookstores or the Amazon front page. Maybe they once read a sloppy, amateurish book that fit the “Catholic fiction” description and subsequently wrote off an entire category of books. Maybe their experience goes back decades to syrupy-sweet, hokey religious fiction that turned them off. Maybe they just didn’t know Catholic fiction was a “thing” and are satisfied to read only secular fiction, skipping over the parts they find offensive or contrary to their beliefs.
Maybe they haven’t deemed anything less than a recognized literary classic as worth their reading time.
While I love and treasure many of the Catholic classics, I roll my eyes when I see yet another list of Catholic fiction recommendations that is limited to G.K Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, J.R.R. Tolkein, and a handful of other books and authors long dead. Plenty of living, breathing authors are writing top-notch fiction in a variety of genres, steeped in a Catholic worldview.
I don’t know a single one of them getting rich. But that’s not why they write in the first place. Most write because they feel called to write and to use their gifts to create something of worth and beauty. But like everyone else, Catholic authors have bills to pay and families to raise, myself included.
If we want to see a revival of the Catholic arts, including literary arts, we need to take an interest and put our money where our mouth is. If we don’t support solid, quality Catholic literature, how can we expect to discover new classics?
If you are among those uninitiated to Catholic fiction, here’s a primer:
- Catholic Reads: In their own words, “We are a resource for Catholic readers hungry for fiction that explores their faith through creativity and fosters Catholic writers by promoting good books.” Find reviews and sign up to be alerted to upcoming deals on books.
- Catholic Treasures: An online Catholic bookstore carrying a wide variety of genres. Find author interviews and purchase books directly from the site or via catalog. Books regularly discounted for sale. **Update: Bookstore relocated to Tumblar House.
- Catholic Writers Guild: The literary home of Catholic writers and authors. For readers, the showcase of members’ books is still in development. However, you can find a current list of books (fiction and nonfiction) awarded the Guild’s Seal of Approval.
- Full Quiver Publishing: Catholic fiction publishers are few and far between, some outlasting others. Among those handful is Full Quiver Publishing, a small Canadian publishing company founded in 2004 by James and Ellen Hrkach. Genres include historical fiction, mystery, contemporary romance, suspense, Young Adult, and science fiction. (Full disclosure: I have two novels published through Full Quiver Publishing.)
- Catholic Teen Books: CatholicTeenBooks.com provides information on books for middle grade and teen readers written by Catholic authors and/or from Catholic publishers. Books are organized by author, title, and genre. Information is also provided for teachers and parents with recommended grade level and questions for discussion.
- Virtue Works Media: Still a work in progress, Virtue Works Media is building a site to connect consumers with quality media. From the site: “VIRTUE WORKS™ uses the power of virtue, tucked in a story, to transform lives.” Get a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon.
- Good News! Catholic Book Fair: The Good News! Catholic Book Fair offers Catholic schools and parishes and alternative to the Scholastic Book Fair. With books for the whole family, the fair comes to YOU.
- Sabbath Rest Book Talk: Where Fiction is Good for You: This monthly video series is a free-flowing discussion led by author Erin McCole Cupp. Each month is focused on a separate theme (i.e., forgiveness, coming of age) with a children’s, young adult, and adult book as examples.
- CatholicMom.com: See this award-winning site’s regular Book Notes features for reviews by its contributors.
- Books for Catholic Teens on Facebook “connects Catholic YA authors with Catholic parents, educators, and other Catholic professionals.” Find the group on Instagram too.
- Goodreads: Handy lists for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval Awardees, Books for Catholic Teens, Sabbath Rest Book Talk, Catholic Romance Novels, and Theology of the Body Fiction. By searching the Listopia, you can find many other handy lists.
Similar posts providing
ideas and specific recommendations
on Catholic fiction:
- Where to Find Catholic Fiction (Dappled Things)
- Five #FAVE Top Ten Lists (Virtue Ink)
- Librarians, Teachers, Parents Take Note (Molly McBride and the Purple Habit)
A Quick List of
My Personal Catholic Fiction Recommendations
for 12 Popular Genres*:
- Young Adult: Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden
- Dystopian: I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner
- Children’s: Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper by Jean Schoonover-Egolf
- Science Fiction: Discovery by Karina Fabian
- Thrillers/Suspense: Frozen Footprints by Therese Heckenkamp
- Middle Grade: 7 Riddles to Nowhere by A.J. Cattapan
- Romance: Stay With Me by Carolyn Astfalk
- Lives of the Saints: Saint Magnus: The Last Viking by Susan Peek
- Women’s Fiction: Rachel’s Contrition by Michelle Buckman
- Mystery: Dying for Revenge by Barbara Golder
- Historical Fiction: A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable
- Re-imagined Classics: The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp
(*Created with much trepidation because this is a drop in the bucket, and I’m leaving out so many great books. For more recommendations, subscriber to My Scribbler’s Heart blog (on sidebar), follow me on Goodreads, or check out my monthly reading linkup, An Open Book, the first Wednesday of each month, both here and at CatholicMom.com.)
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