Barbara's Random Thoughts

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fiction and Nonfiction

I've never been a nonfiction kind of girl. I've always preferred story to fact. I know that nonfiction isn't always just facts...there are plenty of compelling true stories that fall into the whole nonfiction genre. But pure story is what I've always been drawn to.

It's funny; Lucinda introduced me to this week. I happily searched for and added to my virtual shelves all the books I have with me here in SA. And I was not really surprised at the larger-than-normal amount of nonfiction...most of that is required reading for NCSA. But I was surprised at my reaction to said nonfiction. I was a little embarrassed by the inclusion of several titles that fall squarely into the category of what I've always thought of as Christian self-helpy nonfiction. Journey of Desire*, Allure of Hope**...ok, maybe it was just those two titles.

You know, I always feel like nonfiction is more "serious" than fiction. I always feel a little less intelligent, and a little too indulgent when I'm reading stories and others are reading nonfiction. And I'm surrounded by a lot of that now. 9 times out of 10, I'm the only one reading novels around here...everyone else is being all serious. Somehow there's a lingering stigma--even in my story-filled mind--against fiction...a nagging feeling that people who read nonfiction are somehow making more productive use of their reading time.

Funny, because this week we have a couple here at Pangani sharing a series of lectures taken from John Eldredge's book The Sacred Romance. (Please note a further example of Christian self-helpy nonfiction!) And one of the themes threaded through these lectures has been how story helps us discover our heart. How story is vital to who we are and what we desire, and how it helps us connect with the larger story God has for us. Hey, yeah, let's reaffirm the value of story! In the midst of lectures from a book with a slightly-embarrassing touchy-feely title! This totally validates my reading preferences, but alas, it doesn't help me feel more intellectual.

*When we were collecting our stacks of books at the beginning of the year, I was missing a couple from my pile. I found myself wandering around saying “Hey, I need a Journey of Desire...wait...that doesn't sound right..."

**This particular book features your standard Christian "women's issues" cover image...a woman:
A. standing
B. walking
C. spinning,

in one of the following settings:
A. in a field
B. on a beach
C. on top of a hill

Said woman is usually wearing a flowy dress and carrying or wearing a floppy hat. I swear, it's like those are the required stipulations every editor of such books must give to the cover designer/photo researcher. Come up with something else for once! This is one of the reasons I am embarrassed to read books like these, no matter how timely or well-written. They have cheesy touchy-feely subtitles (in this case, "God's Pursuit of a Woman's Heart") and feature formulaic "feminine" covers. Sigh.


| posted by Barbara | 12:06 AM