I should never look at the Christian nonfiction bestseller list.
There are five different authors selling five different repackaged versions of the same book—OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad… but still.
I don’t begrudge their success, but I do roll my eyes at how hard it is to find variety in the Christian book market.
After one such scan of the bestseller list, I had a serious moment of doubt about my writing career.
Why am I bothering to write Christian nonfiction when only the same old stuff sells?
Why would anyone aspire to write full time if only a handful of writers have any hope of being read?
There had to be someone out there who writes the kinds of books I want to read? If those books didn’t exist, what hope did I have for my own projects?
I happened to be at the local library that day. I didn’t have high hopes as I walked to the Christian book section. I expected to find books by authors such as Bart Ehrman and Josh McDowell. Exactly the kind of Christian nonfiction I didn’t want to read and never want to write.
On a whim I picked up Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss. Reiss sucked me in, kept me laughing, and said all of the mean things I’ve wanted to say to people like Brother Laurence—it is called flunking sainthood after all.
A few weeks later, A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans arrived in the mail. The book wasn’t just an interesting project. It was tightly written, funny at points, profound at others, and up tempo throughout.
As I began to hope again, I began to wonder if there are some other fantastic Christian nonfiction books out there that I’ve been missing. Rachel’s book has been hard to miss with all of the controversy some have raised about it. However, I wonder if there are some other great books, like my friend Shawn’s new book How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, that haven’t made it onto the bestseller list but make for excellent reading.
Here’s the Plan…
Over the next 3 weeks or so, I’ll be hosting a series of guests posts from folks I’ve invited to make book recommendations. Here’s the catch, the posts will be about 3 Christian nonfiction books.
Art thrives on limitation, right?
Starting next week, I’ll be hosting guest posts Monday-Wednesday for the rest of December that will recommend great books to read over the holidays. My own list kicks off the series on Monday with a memoir that you will be required to purchase… I mean it.