I grew up loving books. Even now as an adult, I try to make time to read as much as possible. Reading is in my blood. Not just because my grandparents were some of the best scholars of literature or because my father ordered the Edmonton Journal for me to read in elementary school, I gravitate toward printed material. Sometimes, I just want to escape into a world of fiction for those 30 minutes on the subway, and get away temporarily from the troubles in my life. Some people escape with Netflix, and some old-fashioned people like me just love to pick up a physical book. I am still not completely sold on the benefits of e-readers. Gotta hold off on that Kindle.
At some point in my life, I became very interested in non-fiction, especially biographies, self-improvement books, and other books based on psychology research. I think I am just very interested in learning about people, what makes people tick and the patterns in human psychology that lead to success and downfalls. Why didn’t I think about majoring in psychology? I have loved books that are very fact-driven. After all, wasn’t our education obtained from textbooks, which are filled with facts? I thought the only way for me to learn was by devouring facts and data.
Lately, I found myself drawn toward reading fiction. As I wrote before on this blog, I am a fan of Jodi Picoult. As I am writing this post, I am about more than 50% through her “Nineteen Minutes”, an emotionally-charged book with many complex characters. Jodi Picoult is the reason I turned toward fiction. Fiction teaches me to understand people in all their layers of complexity. It teaches me how to interpret the complex themes in each story. Isn’t real life made up of themes requiring interpretation? Reading fiction also teaches me to be creative in my own writing process – what I can borrow from her writing for my own projects. There are some beautiful quotes that only Jodi is capable of writing.
“[W]ho has the right to judge someone else?
“That depends on whether you’re judging in a moral sense or a legal sense. Morally, no one has the right to judge anyone else. But legally, its not a right-it’s a responsibility.”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
How much deeper can you get than that? For anyone who has ever wondered the same question, they would do well to turn to this book. People are naturally judgmental, but does one person have more right to judge than another? What make one think they are morally superior so that they can judge? Who defines moral value? She makes you think about some of life’s most profound questions.
In high school and middle school, I would scribble away in my little notebook with my own fictional characters living in another world at another time. I was so charged with creativity that anything would give way to a new idea. In 9th grade, I wrote a well-received poem in school and in 10th grade, I wrote a touching story about a failing marriage that drove a family apart. By university, I was writing for local papers. I always knew that someday I would give my writing a second chance. I think diving into the world of fiction has rekindled the spark that made me fall in love with the written word at age 10. I am glad to say that amidst my super busy schedule, I put together a draft of a short story, which I would like to turn into a novel format. Although we live in a fact-driven world (big data is all around us), fiction offers the opportunity to be a non-conformist and to think differently from everyone else around us.