Fasting Fiction

If you can’t tell yet, I’m a fiction lover. I always have been and always will be. Half of my life revolves around discovering new worlds and diving right into my imagination.

When I was younger, non-fiction was a dirty word. The biographies I was forced to read for school were, predictably, terrible, but I took them as a shining example of all non-fiction. To me, the genre was synonymous with unimaginative boredom. Even when it came to Christianity, I took assigned reading from the hands of my teachers with a smile only because I knew I had to pretend like I enjoyed it. I only remember one of those books on Christianity from a Bible study one of my teachers did – the rest are lost to memory. At that time, the world was dragons and wizards, aliens and space battles, talking animals and dystopian worlds. (I will briefly note one exception: a volume of C. S. Lewis’ non-fiction classics, which I received as a gift from my dad and step-mom. That book was precious to me and I carried it everywhere.)

My world shifted when I was in college. In one way, I fell more deeply in love with fiction – albeit a very different kind – when I discovered the Romantic poets. Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Rosetti, Blake – I drank them in like water. At the same time, I was neck-deep in my Doctor Who obsession during one of my favourite eras of the series. When Jenna Coleman left the show around that time, I followed her career immediately to Victoria, still satisfying my love for all things British. It was there that I became so interested in this young Queen Victoria, proud and stubborn yet still trying to find her way, that I sought to know more about her.

I picked up my laptop and and (tentatively) searched for biographies. At this point, I still expected that whatever I found would be just as awful as the Thomas Jefferson biography I’d written a report on in twelfth grade. But I was after information, and if I knew one thing, it was that books were the way to get it. After some research, I decided that Victoria: A Life by A. N. Wilson seemed to be my best bet. I ordered a used copy, waited, and then gulped in fear at the nearly 600-page behemoth that I received. Still, a reader I was, so I flipped open the cover and began.

From page one, Wilson painted a vivid scene in my imagination. Before I knew it, I went from standing on the hard floor, hesitantly flipping and expecting to put the book down any moment to nestled in my comfy reading chair, head bent over the pages. That behemoth was read through in a month or so. By the time I reached the end, a startling question struck me: had I been wrong about non-fiction books all this time? Had I simply been given bad or mediocre books and never experienced a good one until now?

It was a life-changing discovery. Though fiction was still my best friend, I was suddenly interested in non-fiction. I tore through a biography of George Lucas and accepted a gift of several non-fiction music books from one of my professors when I graduated (although, honestly, I still haven’t read those and don’t expect them to be good). My next historical obsession was Amelia Earhart a few years later, and even though the so-called “best” biography that I found on her ended up being a bit of a drag, I was able to stick through to the end and enjoy it anyway. My interest naturally expanded to Christian non-fiction – not as much the self-help type books, though I read a few of those – but mostly apologetics. Non-fiction became just as important as fiction until I was almost always reading one of each at the same time.

Which brings me to now. My church does a fast in January/February every year, and this time, it’s 40 days long. I usually don’t fast food (a long explanation that boils down to my health issues and the way my body handles hunger), so I find it best to turn to other things to fast – and it’s always beneficial for me. This year, I’m fasting fiction, the first time I’ve ever done so – probably the longest I’ve ever gone in my life without reading a fiction book, actually. To make it worse, I bought an entire series of Brandon Sanderson books with Christmas money just before the fast. They’re just sitting there, being gorgeous on my bookshelf and totally mocking me.

My beautiful new books – and yes, I understand the irony of all the Eragon books. Don’t worry, I’m not a hypocrite; they’re my husband’s.

But ever since the fast started, I’ve felt a wonderful peace about it. I’m enjoying one non-fiction book from Reedy Discovery that you’ll see my review on in a couple of months. I’m also reading The Crucified Life by Tozer and rereading Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis. I also plan on reading St. Augustine’s Confessions and rereading Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis; though it’s a fiction book, it’s intellectual enough to be counted as non-fiction in my brain.

I’m really enjoying this time filling myself up with good non-fiction. Many years ago, I couldn’t have imagined it. And while I don’t love fiction any less than I once did, I’ve recognised that non-fiction can be just as thrilling and impactful.

What’s your relationship with non-fiction? Do you have any favourite non-fiction books? Let me know in the comments!

Happy writing (or reading)!

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.


2 thoughts on “Fasting Fiction

  1. Pingback: Why You Should Use Your Library | E.J. Robison

  2. Pingback: Why You Should Read More than One Book at a Time | E.J. Robison

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