Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.
Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.
I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.
So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.
- Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hidden. Great when you're winning but what about the mistakes and the unacceptable decisions. This is a gripping, imaginative and relatively easy read which raises big questions about how we see ourselves and one another, how we live in an age where we broadcast airbrushed editions of our lives online. I look forward to what Broadway writes next.
- The Underground Railroad. Colson Whitehead's award winning novel is an eye opening insight into life of southern states slavery, and the quest for freedom. The Guardian describes it as painting "a glistening steampunk reality." That fits.
- Life after life. Kate Atkinson asks the question - what would've happened if Hitler had died before World War II and so triggers a whirlwind journey through alternate realities when things happened different.
In parallel to my own reading I've also been enjoying reading Lord of the Rings, starting The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Harry Potter with my eldest son.
I've just started The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, the opening pages of which have taken me to North Korea. If nothing else that means over recent months I've been led into several different cultures, times and worlds, painted in the blood, sweat, tears and words of some cracking authors. My world is bigger for it.
I've been more prone to indulge Netflix boxsets which I think is a prime cause of reading less fiction (fueled by parenal-tiredness), and that's a rich place to enlarge horizons too, but it's hard too beat what the written word does... which is at least one of the reasons why the Christian faith has been given in a book, but that's a subject for another day.
Image - Creative Commons - sama093