Any good clean contemporary books for adults?

This is meant to be mostly a book rec topic, but if people want to discuss how much "objectionable" material in a book is tolerable until the whole book is worthless, feel free.

Anyway, I used to be a voracious reader in childhood, but as I grew older, I became more and more frustrated by the lack of good contemporary fiction that isn't filled with curse words and/or includes all sorts of "obligatory sex scenes" that are completely unnecessary. So I haven't read adult fiction (as in written for adults, not x-rated) in a while. (Though in terms of kid-lit or YA, I did enjoy Harry Potter, and I enjoyed Twilight in an "unintentionally funny" way....but "Twilight" certainly shows that just because a book is "clean" in terms of no cursing or explicit sex, doesn't make it a good book!) Now, there's also a lot of good clean "classic" fiction from an earlier time (such as Jane Austen), and I guess I shouldn't reject a good book just because of one bad scene, but sometimes I would like to just pick up a book and read it without worrying about objectionable content. However, I find that reading a dust jacket or even flipping through a book before buying it isn't enough to weed all of it out.

So I'm asking for recs for good books that are clean, but I must admit, part me wonders if there really are books like that out there these days. Should I just give up and say "as long as it only has one or two bad scenes that I can skip over, a book is A-OK?" After all, even Raymond Arroyo recently recommended a book (about a cheating wife who schemes with her lover to kill her husband, based on a true story) with the disclaimer that "this is for mature audiences"...does "art" excuse such mature content?

I relate to your problem.

That said, "mature" content isn't in and of itself problematic. If anything, it has much more to do with the way content is framed. Needless to say, as adults, we're not required to limit ourselves to children's content. I'm sure you know this, but some people get confused on the topic so I just wanted to throw that reminder out there.

After all, some of the best content in the world is "mature." Shakespeare, for example.

Also, the books of the Bible are some of the most "mature" content out there - lots of gratuitous violence, indecency, sexual sin, everything you can imagine is all over the Bible. There's sorcerers and adultery, and this one dude who summons bears to kill a bunch of children because they called him bald. Wow.

I really like the scientific mystery fiction books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I don't know if that's your thing, but they have some good stuff.

"Pope Bob"

From some reviews:

This story of an American Pope who "falls" out of the Chair of Peter through a series of alcoholic misadventures might at first glance appear to be an anti-Catholic screed. But nothing could be further from the truth. Pope Bob reverberates with humor, poignancy, and a sense of authenticity, a story filled with flesh-and-blood individuals whom the reader comes to care about deeply. In doing so it transcends being a "Catholic novel" to become a human story of personal redemption. It is altogether an entertaining, fast-paced, and satisfying read.

What a page-turner! And what a marvelous story of sin (the pope's) and redemption (also the pope's). Clearly, the author is a man of faith with a vivid imagination, a zesty writing style, and a love for the Catholic Church.

More here:

amazon.com/Pope-Bob-ebook/dp/B004EEOHPM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1309906526&sr=1-1

Goodreads has a couple of groups where people post clean novels. One is called “Clean Reads” and another one called “Clean Romances”. HTH.

Hey VLM, my issue isn’t with “mature themes” in the way Shakespeare has mature themes, or the Bible has mature themes. I mean, Jane Austen’s books, which I love, deal with seduction, abandonment, adultery, out-of-wedlock children, prostitution, and one, Mansfield Park, even contains a veiled reference to homosexual acts. However, none of these acts are described in detail, are usually committed by the “bad” or “evil” characters, and it’s fairly obvious that the author does not approve of them.

However, many contemporary literature describes such acts in graphic detail. That’s what I find to be, well, gratuitous, I guess would be the right word. One can write a book about adultery without graphically describing the adultery, and it seemed that the book Raymond Arroyo discussed actually did contain such descriptions – he was rather coy about it, but he actually asked people in the audience NOT to send him nasty letters because “I’ve warned you!”. That set off my alarm bells. I must admit I didn’t even write down the name of the book but apparently it is a modern re-telling of the case that inspired “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. BTW, I have seen both the original movie for The Postman Always Rings Twice and the modern remake. The original is not nearly as explicit as the remake, but I found it to be a better movie that made its point well. So, I’m not saying I object to mature themes, but more about how such themes are handled. A book that has a random sex scene that doesn’t contribute to the plot at all isn’t just objectionable for content, it’s badly written, at least that’s my opinion.

If you like mysteries and/or suspense, look no further than the reigning Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark. With the exception of a very few of her numerous books (“Stillwatch” and “Weep No More, My Lady” are two that immediately come to mind), her mysteries are clean, not graphic, and feature characters that are devout Catholics.

Also I have to highly recommend Aimee and David Thurlo’s “Sister Agatha” mystery series. There are six books in the series: Bad Faith, Thief in Retreat, Prey For A MIracle, False Witness, Prodigal Nun, and Bad Samaritan. The protagonist, Sister Agatha, is an extern nun in a cloistered convent in northern New Mexico, who rides a Harley with her faithful ex-police dog, Pax, riding in the side car!

I agree with your concerns. I also have a problem with the way such things are covered by a veil of "Mature." If you were taught something was a sin as a child, it is still a sin even if you turn 18 or 21. Whether it's graphic novels, computer games or music: "Mature" content usually refers to profanity and sexual situations.

"Warning: The following contains Adult Language and Adult Situations." This applies to books as well as television.

I recently bought a nonfiction book about some 1960s history. The title and cover depicted something that interested me, but while reading it, I ran across a number of accounts of the sexual activities of various individuals that had absolutely nothing to do with the main theme of the book. I tossed it in the trash. Since then, I've had to toss a few more. I had never done that before. I wrote to one publisher that they were free to publish what they wanted but that I found certain words and phrases in one of their books objectionable.I was very surprised to get an email from the author who tried, but failed, to convince me that it was simply the way people express themselves, at least in his circle.

This trend is also appearing in some previously clean magazines.

Hope this helps,
Ed

I do read more adult books quite often, but I’ve come across a few that are good but not too mature.

The Thirteenth Tale by Dianr Setterfield. It has some sexual themes, but not detailed at all, mainly hinted at. It’s a very well written book, and a great mystery.

Atonement by Ian McEwan. It’s been a few years since I read this, bt I don’t remember it having anything graphic in it sex or language wise. It’s a beautiful love story, but be prepared with pleanty of tissue!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. While this book doese not have any sex or language in it, it is not for everyone. It is written in the style of Jane Austen with the imagination of Tolkien. It’s one of my favorite books. You might have to get past the first 100 pages before it really picks up.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. One of my all time favorite books. It does hae some sexual elements in it, but nothing graphic.

My Sisters Keeper. Nothing sexual in it. Not the best written book I’ve ever read, but it’s a good story. It is very sad though.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Not an adult book, but still very good.

The Prestige by Christopher Priest. Very good mystery.

Mildred Pierce by James M Caine. Not really a contemporary novel, but very good non the less.

[quote="ToeInTheWater, post:1, topic:262165"]
This is meant to be mostly a book rec topic, but if people want to discuss how much "objectionable" material in a book is tolerable until the whole book is worthless, feel free.

Anyway, I used to be a voracious reader in childhood, but as I grew older, I became more and more frustrated by the lack of good contemporary fiction that isn't filled with curse words and/or includes all sorts of "obligatory sex scenes" that are completely unnecessary. So I haven't read adult fiction (as in written for adults, not x-rated) in a while. (Though in terms of kid-lit or YA, I did enjoy Harry Potter, and I enjoyed Twilight in an "unintentionally funny" way....but "Twilight" certainly shows that just because a book is "clean" in terms of no cursing or explicit sex, doesn't make it a good book!) Now, there's also a lot of good clean "classic" fiction from an earlier time (such as Jane Austen), and I guess I shouldn't reject a good book just because of one bad scene, but sometimes I would like to just pick up a book and read it without worrying about objectionable content. However, I find that reading a dust jacket or even flipping through a book before buying it isn't enough to weed all of it out.

So I'm asking for recs for good books that are clean, but I must admit, part me wonders if there really are books like that out there these days. Should I just give up and say "as long as it only has one or two bad scenes that I can skip over, a book is A-OK?" After all, even Raymond Arroyo recently recommended a book (about a cheating wife who schemes with her lover to kill her husband, based on a true story) with the disclaimer that "this is for mature audiences"...does "art" excuse such mature content?

[/quote]

May I self-advertise? I recently published a historical novel with precisely this aim in mind: create a good story, with interesting characters, descriptions, action, etc., but without relying on graphic violence and sex to hold the reader's attention. It is my conviction that the best novels succeed because they do not incoroporate those two elements.

It's now for others to decide whether I succeeded or not!

I’m amazed no-one has taken a look at your book and your site about it. Perhaps an effort to revive this thread is needed.

I am currently researching ‘clean’ books of any type, preferably but not necessarily written by Catholic authors, and would appreciate any member letting me have titles and authors they can recommend.:smiley:

Your book , Centurion’s Daughter, certainly is going to be on the list. Here is a link to the website
sites.google.com/site/centurionsdaughter/

Okay…

I really, really don’t like romance novels. I’m not much of a fiction reader to start with. When I read fiction, generally it’s classics, good science fiction, westerns, etc.

Folks, I’m not hooked on Cindy Woodsmall’s novel. I just gobbled up the first two of her “Sister of the Quilt” series: When the Heart Cries and When Morning Calls. I’m waiting for the third and final novel to get checked into the library and I just checked out The Hope of Refuge. These are “Amish romances.”

:smiley:

Flannery O’Connor
Evelyn Waugh
Graham Greene
G K Chesterton
Ernest Hemingway
Giovannino Guareschi the Don Camillo books about an Italian priest in post war Italy - funny and heart warming.

I ususally just read non-fiction science history these days. History of medicine, atomic bomb, biological weapons, chemistry of a candle, development of the periodic table, etc…I am a nerd. Reading an excellent one right now about medical pioneers like the Haldanes who did lots of experiments on themselves.

But for something light, Amish “anything” stories are wonderful. Besides the romances, there are also mysteries/thrillers. Caution, though - lots of the authors write in “series”, and you’d enjoy the story more if you start at the beginning. Don’t be tempted to start at any number book - make sure you start at book number 1.

The only other fiction series I’ve read in the last 5 years, besides “Amish” stories, is the Hunger Games trilogy because my sister recommended it and I enjoyed it very much.

I love P.G. Wodehouse - especially the Jeeves books.

The stories are light and lots of fun, even if it’s sometimes tricky to understand the norms and class divisions of the time. Most of the author’s books are in the public domain and if you have a kindle, they can be downloaded at freekindlebooks.org, or to your computer if you prefer.

freekindlebooks.org has hundreds (if not thousands) of works available - mostly classics, and all available for free download. You’d have to find something there I think!

For more modern fiction, I love Maeve Binchy. I also enjoy crime fiction and thrillers but some of them can be very gruesome or quite ‘dark’ so not sure if that’s what you’re looking for.

I’ll go one up on this, and remark that there are precious few novels written by contemporary Catholics that have a genuine Catholic outlook, i.e. that are not just technically clean, but that also reflect a genuine Catholic outlook and way of looking at things, with all the insights and priorities that come from being rooted in one’s Faith.

This does not mean one has to be polemical; it is quite possible to write a novel that a non-Catholic can enjoy without thinking he is being proselytized, and in which the core mentality is Catholic, as opposed to a mentality that is something different but covered with a Catholic overcoating. So far, of the contemporary novels offered by Catholic publishing houses I’ve come across, I have yet to see one that I would call ‘authentically Catholic’. Any suggestions?

I think this comes from a loss of Catholic identity that, for me, is the single most characteristic element of Western Catholicism over the past few decades. This loss of identity comes from a widespread ignorance of Church teaching combined with a need to identify with contemporary society. As a result there has been very little authentic Catholic literature produced, as opposed to fundamentalist Christian publications - the fundamentalists, of course, knowing exactly what they believe and what their attitude towards secular society is.

The Cardinal. A young priest has interesting assignments and in the end becomes a Cardinal.

The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk. A psychological drama about a ship and it’s crew in WWII. Defense attorney Barnay Greenwald is brilliant in defending his client. Makes you wonder if anybody could be that smart.

Seven Days in May. An army colonel gets hints that top military leaders have a conspiracy to take over the United States. He tells the President. Is there a conspiracy? Can they be stopped?

Colossus: The Forbin Project. A computer is built and given control of U.S. nuclear weapons. The computer is turned on. Guess what. The Russians have a similar computer. The two computers combine into one and try to take over the world . Can Colossus be stopped?

The World’s Funniest Atheist

You can read a review from Our Sunday Visitor here.

My sister Loretta Jackson and I are writers. We write mysteries and our books are considered “clean reads” because the hero or heroine has good goals and standards and there are no explicit sex scenes. While there must be a murder in a murder mystery, most of ours do not dwell on the gory details of the crime, but “whodunit”. For readers who like cozies or mysteries that focus on the plot and characters such as Murder she Wrote used to do instead of being designed to shock and disgust with over-the top sex and gore, you might give ours a try! I am posting this because we want to let readers know there are books out there that have heroes and heroines that are good role models and who try to do the “right thing.” We like to produce books that any age can enjoy and that don’t thrive on shock value.
For more information on our books, please visit Amazon Author Central.
amazon.com/Vickie-Britton/e/B002BLR63K

Some of our squeaky clean mystery romances available on Kindle only are Path of the Jaguar, Nightmare in Moroco, and The Vanished Lady. Others, such as Arctic Legacy will be available soon in paperback as well.

Our books in paperback and ebook include westerns and also the Jeff McQuede High Country mystery series, including Murder in Black and White, Whispers of the Stones, and Stealer of Horses. For those who enjoy archaeology, we have the Ardis Cole series and the Arla Vaughn series. These books have a little murder but the sex is g rated throughout. As writers we feel that the emphasis should be on the story and not the sex scenes. I hope some of you who are seeking clean mysteries will check these out! :slight_smile:

There are some good suggestions here that I’m going to check out.

I love Jan Karon’s Mitford series. It takes place in modern times in a fictional town in S. Carolina (I think). She has a wonderful sense of humor & her books are very entertaining, but also have some serious themes. And they’re absolutely smut-free :slight_smile:

For Catholic fiction I’ve read a few of Michael D. O’Brien’s books that I liked a lot.

Mary

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