Introducing Non-Fantasy Readers to Speculative Fiction

Christian Fantasy

As a life-long reader of fantasy, most of the genre conventions seem normal to me. Strange names, new languages, different rules of reality, the period of orientation to a fantastic realm–none of these things make me think twice. The “weird” seems conventional.

But as I’ve talked to those who don’t read speculative fiction, I’ve realized that on the surface these aspects can seem intimidating or too strange, certainly not like something they would enjoy. Add these trappings of the genre to certain cultural notions (like fantasy is escapist or only for children/teens), and a number of people determine to avoid it without ever giving it a try.

Yet I’ve come to realize that many non-fantasy readers enjoy the genre–if properly introduced to it. These tales connect with things deep in the human heart–the yearning for something greater, for something beyond the world we see with our natural eyes. And most people can relate to these desires in some form.

Of course, not everyone will enjoy speculative fiction, no matter which type they try, but most times when I suggest a speculative title to those who normally don’t read in this genre, they’re pleasantly surprised.

Given my experiences, I think word-of-mouth recommendations that interest people in stepping beyond their normal genre selections could help fantasy grow in the Christian market. So I’ve made it a bit of a mission to connect non-fantasy readers with speculative books they will enjoy. Perhaps they might find a fairy-tale type story more accessible than an epic fantasy with countless new names and places. Or they might enjoy a suspense touched with speculative. And so the reading journey begins.

What about you? Have you tried to recommend books to your friends/family who don’t normally read speculative fiction?


  • sally apokedak
    March 22, 2012 - 9:32 am · Reply

    I agree with you and I suggest fantasy to everyone. I’ve had so many friends who have read The Hunger Games now, and those are fantasy. Becky Miller once listed the top ten movies for a certain year and nine of ten were fantasy, I think.

    But the fantasy with strange worlds and names does seem to put some people off. My sister hates it. Just won’t read it. I don’t think there is any way to change her mind.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      March 29, 2012 - 12:34 pm · Reply

      Sometimes when people say they won’t read fantasy, I think they only have one sort in mind. In reality there’s so much variety within the genre, and it’s just a matter of connecting people with the type they enjoy (most of the time).

      Certain books, like The Hunger Games, seem to almost universally grab people. I picked it up because at one point I had multiple people recommend it to me in the span of a day or two. It’s hard to ignore such wholehearted endorsements!

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