Letters of Life

Rediscovering the Joy of Fiction

Jester reading a book

The Joy of Reading

Reading fiction books of high quality has done more for my brain than anything else this year.

In this age of fast downloads by the mega-gigabyte, this age of the instant click of gratification, reading a book can be an exercise in almost-futility as the plot unfolds glacier-like and the characters take an age to be introduced. Sometimes, it takes at least three chapters before you get a clear picture of what’s going on.

I’m relearning, like someone long bedridden who is learning to walk again, a patience which has atrophied from lack of use.

Works of fiction are a breed apart from today’s best-selling self-help books, biographies of successful people, clever flavour-of-the-month novels so seductive they’ve replicated themselves onto television or into top-grossing films. No one remembers them much when the next block-buster comes along.

But art that is fiction is quite a different story. The beauty of the language is wrought by the author into delicate character sketches, superimposed on a larger canvas of a time and place in history or fantasy, as the case may be, and the strength of his ideas and descriptions add colour , shade and contrast to the warp and weft of this marvellously-hued tapestry of a book.

In short, the author creates a world — painstakingly, word by word, sentence building on sentence, until he breathes life into scenes and places, people, conversations, and things. You know this is art when his ideas, his images start to fill our minds and never want to leave.

The book becomes a part of who we are. And that is a wonderful thing.

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6 Responses »

  1. I so agree. I try to read one fiction per month – perhaps ironically on a Kindle nowadays πŸ™‚

  2. I try to do two a week if I can. Easing myself back into it after years of too much non-fiction. πŸ™‚

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