Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Don't Let Inspiration Cloud Your Judgment

I appreciate being inspired. It propels me to do great things - or at least attempt mediocre things with flair. 

A painter spies a glorious multi-hued  rainbow of colors bathing the sunset with its spectacular display.  He's inspired to try to capture on canvas what he saw so he could share it with the world. 

A musician hears a chorus of birdsong and realizes the melody fits with some lyrics that have been plaguing his brain for months. He's inspired to write a song. 

A soldier returned from war finds himself beset by injuries of mind and body and somehow perseveres to heal and find love and a brighter future.  

A fireman rescues a puppy from a burning house and the young man whose dog was saved, is inspired to become a fire fighter when he grows up. 

To be inspired is a wonderful thing.  It's how many of our culture's masterpieces got created in the first place. 

When a reviewer reads a book that moves them, touches them emotionally and makes them feel powerful feelings, it's quite natural to say that the book inspired them.  The urge to buy all the back list books of that author, the quest to seek other books in that series, or the impulse to contact that author to express appreciation, all of those actions stem from being inspired.   

Being inspired, or a book being an inspiration to you, is not the same as a book being an Inspirational.  An Inspirational is a noun.  A genre, or as some view it, a sub-genre.   

In researching for this post I found a lot of jibber-jabber and conjecture but ultimately, when I read far enough, I found the common ground that they all eventually came to. 

Inspirationals, whether they be romance, mystery, westerns or contemporary fiction all have one thing in common:

They usually do not allow profanity or explicit sex - the bedroom door is firmly closed. They are books that have a specific religious background, portraying characters who are part of a particular religious tradition, usually Catholic, Jewish or Christian and oftentimes portray a hero or heroine struggling with issues of faith within that tradition and working through those issues of faith and belief to a hopefully happily ever after, or happy for now. God is a part of their lives and is their guiding force.  It's very clear. Wikipedia has their own definition

I also learned that there is a next step to Inspirationals which is Evangelicals.  I never knew nor was aware that they existed and what the difference was.  Author Kaye Dacus had some great definitions between Inspirationals and Evangelicals.  Click Here to see all sorts of genres explained.   I found it helpful.  For reviewing purposes, Evangelicals would still fall under the title, Inspirational. 

Another good write up on Inspirational or Christian romance comes from Karen Witemeyer - I liked what she had to say so I thought I'd share the link here too.  The bottom line for this whole post is to show that there is a difference between being inspired and reading an Inspirational. 

When labeling your review, be aware of the difference. It's best not to mislead a reader who only reads Christian romances or fiction.  They're kind of sensitive about content. 


Stormy said...

Great blog post. So glad you were "inspired" to write it :D I can see how easy it would be to feel an emotional connection to a book and want to label it Inspirational. I guess the next best option would be to pour that emotion into the review so that another reader will be inspired to pick it up and hopefully enjoy it on the same level.

Xeranthemum said...

Thank you, Stormy.
Great pun, btw. :)
And your comment, " the next best option " is exactly what it's all about - well that and squeeing over a really great book. :)