One of the several changes that are currently happening in my life (which I talked about in my last blog post) is that I’ve decided to devote more of my life energy into the pursuit of the beautiful, and one way I intend to do that is by reading more fiction.
I know that seems like an odd thing to pronounce in such a lofty manner (as if fiction will save my life or something like that), but I mean it. I’ve always loved to read (and since elementary school days have always read about 2-3x more non-fiction than fiction), but in the last few years I’ve shifted almost all of my focus away from fiction and in doing so I think I’ve impoverished myself in some ways.
So anyway, this concern first came up a year or two ago when a friend gave me a set of used books (my favorite kind of books, as they have more character… and of course are usually cheaper). She said that these were books that she thought I would like and that she thought that I might enjoy reading more fiction. I did read one or two of those volumes (I think one was Goodbye Columbus, if I recall correctly)
Shortly after that though life started getting crazy and before long the books were sitting on the bookcase and almost forgotten. A year or so passed then, and about the time that all of my graduation-triggered malaise and depression kicked in, a different friend noted the same concern (that I don’t read much fiction anymore), so she gave me a few books as my graduation present that were meaningful to her.
Well, now that I’ve had two of my dearest friends come to pretty much the same conclusion, I think I’m going to listen. To begin with I’m going to be going be reading the books that these friends gave me, but I’m also open to other books as well (and would love y’all’s recommendations on fiction that you found profound or at least interesting).
So far, the first book I’ve read since having conclusion jump out at me is J. D. Sallinger’s Franny and Zooey, which I thoroughly loved. It is a quirky little book, full of family melodrama (it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies, The Royal Tennenbaums) as well as good bit of discussion theology and philosophy in a way that was surprising yet genuine.
The next book on my list (ok, I cheated but I bought this book today with a Borders Gift Card that someone bought me for Christmas) is Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry. After that I’m going to hunt down the books my friend (the first one who gave me books of fiction that I talked about above).
In the interests of full disclosure: The links above on the book titles in this blogpost point to Amazon.com. If these books interest you, please consider buying them by these links as I get a percentage of the sales made through these links.