Thursday, September 5, 2019

Lit: Uniquely Portable Magic

Recently I reviewed Melanie Benjamin's latest book, Mistress of the Ritz. In going through my Facebook saves, I discovered this post from Benjamin in September 2018:
"You know what's a good way to take care of yourself with all that's going on in the world? Read a book. And particularly, read fiction. I'm not telling any tales out of school when I say that fiction is not doing so well right now in this climate, not compared to the weekly hot new political memoir, obsessive Twitter refreshing, and the latest "Binge-worthy" drop on Netflix. Even some of my closest friends, devoted readers, have admitted that they haven't read a novel in a long time, even as they can recommend a list of recent nonfiction as long as their arms! And I like nonfiction, I do. But fiction takes us away, immerses us in new worlds while shutting out the noise of this one; it beguiles, it beckons, it helps us experience different lives, fascinating lives and stories. There is no better distraction than a big thumping novel that keeps you up at night. Try it. You'll like it!"

The other day I noticed that I had entirely forgotten to put together a list of books I've enjoyed in 2019. As I went back through the books I've read this year, I realized that I've read much more nonfiction than I usually read (although the nonfiction books I've read haven't necessarily been related to politics, which is what I believe Benjamin is referring to above). In the past couple of weeks, I've been racing through fiction books again and really enjoying what I've been reading. I'm certain I would have enjoyed these books any time I might have picked them up; but it's also possible that I just need to immerse myself into something that has nothing to do with the current climate.

I'm going to continue to work to read what I'm in the mood for, be that fiction or nonfiction. But, while I'm all for reading books that make us think, that teach us something, I'm also convinced that one of reading's great qualities is that it takes us away from the world we live in and into the world of imagination. I'm going to try to make sure that I spend as much time in that world as I do in the real world in my reading.

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