If I’m totally honest, I sort of decided when I was in college that fiction was the lesser form of writing. I can’t pinpoint the moment when I stopped reading stories … but somewhere along the way I did.
Fiction was reserved for vacations … I called reading a novel my guilty pleasure. And did penance for the waste of time by reading more and more “real” books. Somehow I’d begun to believe only nonfiction had real value in my life. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
A couple of years ago I found myself sitting in the airport with Tricia Goyer, author of both fiction and nonfiction. I found myself embarrassed by the realization I hadn’t read any of her books and the only reason why is that she writes fiction. After just a few minutes of conversation, Tricia and I were fast friends. We talked about writing and books and parenting and life. She challenged me and inspired me. And I wanted to read what she had written. So I started with her Big Sky series.
And I loved it! I wanted to move to Montana and be a part of the West Kootenai community.
And my love affair with fiction was begun. Since that conversation almost two and a half years ago, I’ve read over 100 fiction books in all kinds of genres. I continue to read everything Tricia writes but I also find myself with a slight addiction to young adult fiction … I read all four books in The Giver series in less than two weeks and I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times I have read The Hunger Games trilogy. I have also built quite a collection on my Kindle of crime/thriller fiction. I know, it’s crazy!
This is what I have discovered — I love good stories. Period. If the characters are interesting and the plot is compelling, I will love the book. Regardless of its particular category.
Today, I want to share with you why I read fiction … and why I encourage you to read it too.
First of all, stories are the way we best understand life. We tell the stories of our experiences and use them to help ourselves and others explore what we have learned. Second, stories are the most effective means of communicating truth. Jesus was the consummate storyteller. Consistently in Scripture, we see Christ illustrating profound spiritual truth through the stories of every day life. And third, stories are what we remember best. My favorite memories of my grandparents involved the stories they have told. My Bigmama is the best storyteller I know. I love when she tells me about raising her children and serving in churches and even just going to Walmart.
Reading fiction has helped me become a better storyteller. As a Bible teacher and speaker and writer, I tell a lot of stories to illustrate my messages. I want to improve my ability to communicate and to help others grasp the depth of God’s promises to us. Studying the art of story has been an important part of my growth as a teacher.
I have a lot of friends who, like I used to, almost proudly proclaim they don’t have time for reading fiction. I know what they mean. I get where they are. And I don’t judge or condemn them for their choices. But I know this, for me, reading fiction has been a game changer. It’s helped me to see the profoundly beautiful story in Scripture and to dig into the people of Scripture … to consider their real lives and their real struggles and their real joys.
So, if you don’t read fiction, I invite you to give it a try. And if you do, will you please share with me your favorite author? I’d love to know what you are reading!
P.S. You can check out what all I’ve been reading by looking at my 2014 Reading List … it’s even divided by nonfiction and fiction.