I’m an avid reader. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who actually reads more than I do (and I’m not necessarily bragging – more on that in a second). The last 5 years, I’ve read over 100 books each year (I keep lists – again, another non-brag and definitely not a humble brag), and this year, I’ve already read 54, well on my way to 100 again.
And although I didn’t keep track of how many, I used to devour books when I was younger. I can remember several summers spent at the library in contests with other kids to read the most books. I would read in the back of my parents’ mini-van with a flashlight on the way to my sister’s high school sporting events. I would read at the games. I would read at night, in the morning, in every spare second, in every doctor’s office or waiting room.
Back in those days, I purely read fiction.
Today, I almost purely read non-fiction – books on leadership, theology, ministry, Christian living, and pop psychology/sociology.
But something has changed recently. I’ve started to read fiction again.
I stopped reading fiction because I believed it was a waste of time. If I could only read a finite amount of books in a lifetime, I wanted to spend that time reading books that would help me grow as a follower of Jesus and a leader. If I could only read 8,000 books in a lifetime (80 years x 100 books), then I sure wasn’t going to keep reading fiction that was pointless and unhelpful.
Until I realized what I was missing.
Part of my calling as a pastor and a follower of Jesus is to cultivate story. My life is spent seeking the ways God’s story is intersecting with my story and the story of those around me. This is part of the reason why I love movies. I love stories and I love seeing the ways, whether implicitly or explicitly, these stories display the greatness of God.
And this is the point of fiction. This is exactly how I have found meaning and point in reading fiction again.
Maybe you don’t need a reason to read fiction, or maybe you do. But for me, there is so much beauty in uncovering story – genuine, beautiful, suffering, painful story – and seeing the ways in which God is actively intersecting with those stories, to see the way my own story correlates with those that appear as fiction.
If that isn’t enough reason for you book lovers to read fiction, I occasionally mix in a fun, mindless read so I can give my brain a break!
I promised I would come back to the “non-brag” brag, and the reason I am hesitant to brag about how many books I read is for multiple reasons:
1. Too much is sometimes too much.
2. You can’t learn anything if you are trying to learn everything.
3. Huge nerd.
Anyways, no matter how much you read already, make a point this summer to read and read abundantly. Look for the ways — in both fiction and non-fiction – that God is using these words, these stories, these books to help you see the story of God all around you.
* This post was inspired by my reading of a 2006 bestseller, The Book Thief. I highly recommend this book!