Photo Credit: ralu, www.sxc.hu

Killer Reptiles

It was fiction that introduced me to the habit of reading. Before, I dreaded reading more than two pages of anything. I’m one of those people that thought book readers doesn’t have spring of fun in their soul, so they just indulge in that insanely boring activity.

I hated religion and found myself proud of declaring that I’m an atheist. With that, a crazy fascination of evolution and dinosaurs welled in my brain. Strolling inside a bookstore one day looking for bond paper, I found a novel that screams dinosaurs in its pages – Jurassic Park. I saw my brother a couple of times enjoying fiction, so I thought that I can also endure reading this thing, maybe not enjoy it like he does, but I’ll learn more about the dinosaurs.

The book succeeded in seducing me. My eyes are in the verge of having Sharinggan after few pages but I’m enjoying the flow of story and the fantastic informations about Jurassic reptiles. I felt a feeling of accomplishment after I’ve finished the 399th pages of the book. I closed the book, walked outside with the proud I-know-everything-about-dinosaurs look in my face.

Tide of Evil

Since I’m studying in a Christian school where we can’t get out of the controlled campus, I asked my brother to bring other novels on their next visit. My brother knew my taste, he picked up science fictions then sent it to me the following week. I picked the one with the good title – Riptide, and read it for the next couple of days. Everyone who already read that novel can’t deny its rattling storyline, twists, and ending.
Certified

After that two fiction books, I certified myself as a book lover. Folks that are not fond of books are ever lively taunting our clan as ‘bookworms’. But I love the label whatsoever. And I can’t overemphasize the benefits. “Readers are leaders and leaders are readers,” said Michael Hyatt.

Books are free to read inside the library, I’ve taken the best of my free time to be there inside and devoured the books that interest me. Books has a way of leading readers to other genres that is aligned with their taste. Religious, personal growth, psychology and financial – I’ve committed myself to read the best of them. Not knowing that I’ve silently abandoned fiction for the next two years of reading.

What Would Jesus Do?

One early morning, I enjoyed reading a Christian fiction titled ‘In His Steps’ by Charles Sheldon. It struck me how the lessons that are weaved into the story influenced me. In fact, that book gave birthed to the famous Christian maxim ‘What would Jesus do?’

I then read the classic ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John Bunyan. Again, as the Heath brothers has written in their book ‘Made to Stick’, I found that the stories are more ‘stickier’ than traditional information. Thus, the lessons of fictions, biographies, and memoirs connects more deeply into the reader. History and psychology has proven it, stories are more powerful than lectures in influencing our lives.

It’s ironic that I didn’t add other fictions to my list of reading. Somehow, the waste-no-time-on-trash mantra found in personal growth genre was deeply entrenched in myself. But am I really wasting time when I lost myself in a story?

Missy

It was a year later before I finally resolved to embrace fictions as invaluable wellspring of life lessons. I’m casually strolling inside a bookstore in Cebu when I’ve found a novel sitting in the bestseller list.

I know that I might be judged by others by declaring this, but cold questions about Christian faith are still my persevering adversaries. Prone to deep reflection, there are some points that I literally distract myself to run away from dark uncertainties about what I believe.

The Shack’ – it’s a novel written by William P. Young out of his own struggles about Christianity. It was out of his intention for the novel to be published, he wrote it as a Christmas gift for his six children. But I believe that providence moved in order for the novel to get into the hands of millions of skeptics like me. The novel touched and healed parts of my soul that I didn’t know were damaged. I consider the novel as one of the best Christian book ever written.

The Boy Who Lived

Convinced, I dived late in the young adult reading phenomenon of the Harry Potter series. Time flowed smoothly as I walked into the world of the ‘boy who lived’. Then a realization gripped me – the novel is way better than the film! I know that many will oust this declaration, but I’ve found that reading the novel is a richer experience than watching the film. It’s crazy, but as you read the printed storyline, your slumbering imagination will wake up and let you ‘see’ the scene playing in your head.

I drafted a schedule of intense reading of Harry Potter every Saturday afternoon. I even cheated the schedule because I read whenever I can justify the time. I’m hooked. The story really got into me. I even named my projects after the houses and a character: Gryffindor, Slytherin, and Hermione. Addict.

After weeks of enjoyment, I got into the last chapter of the Deathly Hallows. I gradually reduced my reading speed to catch the full emotion of the ending. “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” Ending it was a paradoxical emotional experience for me. I hope it is not the last book, but it is. I closed the book with firmness, glad for the enduring lessons of friendship and the courage to fight ‘till the end for the people you love.

Aslan

I’ve discovered that the Harry Potter series is inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis’ children’s novels are highly recommended for young Christians. I spent my childhood hating religion but became a Christian in my last teenage year. So I decided to read this ‘must’ novels.

I saw why it is highly recommended. C.S. Lewis made a great job introducing the basic tenets of Christianity for young minds through the journey of the Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan. And Aslan will make you love Jesus more.

And may the odds be ever in your favor

The last series that I’ve read is the Hunger Games. Many claimed that it follows on the tradition of Harry Potter and Twilight. And I think that’s true. Conflicting but splendid resolution of emotions, values, and characters make this novel a must read for young adults. Just be ready for some gore in the arena.

Though not to be fully emulated, Katniss Everdeen can teach us the value of learning from our life’s experiences, either streaked with tears or marked by happiness.

And it’s a real fun knowing what will happen in the world of Katniss in the last installment – Mockingjay, before the movie goers will have a clue about it. 

Why Read Fiction?

I believe that it’s better to try reading one and judge for yourself the value of it. But for me, here are the benefits I’m getting in reading stories:

  • Nurtured imagination.
  • Wellspring of life lessons that sticks.
  • Increased empathy.
  • A classic and great form of entertainment.
  • Improved writing skills.
Or better, read this awesome post by Neil Gaiman. Best wishes on your reading journey!

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