Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

A Case for Fiction

November 17th, 2016 • by Karen A. Chase • 2 Comments
Fishing For Frogs, 1882. Oil on canvas painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau via Wikimedia Commons.

Togetherness. Fishing For Frogs, 1882. Oil on canvas painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau via Wikimedia Commons.

It has been difficult to know what to write here this last week or so, as an author, and regardless of political preferences. But one thing has been made abundantly clear to me.

We need more fiction.

Especially thoughtful, deep, well-researched and so-worth-pondering fiction. We need it more than ever for three reasons.

Escape. Sometimes the world seems topsy-turvy. Either we’re getting what we want, and no one else seems happy, or what we’ve lost makes us rethink everything we thought was true. Fiction can give us a break–a means to flee to another time in history, or to a utopian or more dystopian future. Inside of that “other” place we’re able to find something else.

Empathy. No matter when or where fiction is set, all great fiction is focused on the characters. Some we will love. Some, not so much. And yet all of them, if well-drawn, illustrate how humanity is complex. People are flawed. And yet, by seeing intimately into someone else’s life, even the worst antagonist might elicit compassion from us. Sometimes pity. Either way, the result is something greater.

Enlightenment. It sounds incongruent, but the goal of great fiction writers is to write the truth. The truth, however dark, beautiful, crushing, sad, joyful, odd, funny, or head-spinning. Do we weave in opinions? Of course, but how can we obtain enlightenment without them? It is only in the absence of listening to and attempting to understand a dissenting opinion that we recede into darkness.

So please, regardless of where you are these days, take a deep breath. Go to your favorite bookstore or library. Read fiction. Write fiction. And by all means, share fiction. Through a thoughtful exchange of words, perhaps we can all heal together.

Not sure where to begin? Pick a book, any book, from this list of Time Magazine’s Best 100 All-Time Novels on Goodreads.

Reading Slowly in 2015

January 9th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • 4 Comments

KarenAChase_LeytonPublicLibraryLondon

Hello again. It’s been a while since I’ve been in here, as I’ve been revising my manuscript. While I’ll still be wearing my editing coat, I’ve missed all you. So, my readers, I’m weaving back in.

This week, let’s stitch together all three of my blog’s topics–reading, writing and research. Like many of you, I have a pile of books I want to read.

My first instinct is to cut to it and rip through them. You’ve done it, too, I bet. Our society is now used to tweets and blog posts. Short. Fast. Sometimes we bolt through a book and proudly declare to our friends, “It was so good I read it in one day.”

Yes, but what did you miss?

I recently began a book called Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. (Yes, that’s her real name.) She discusses the importance of reading carefully. Thoughtfully. Close.

Given how much care writers give to finding the right word, wouldn’t it be nice to take equal time to read them? (Note my use of give and take.) If done well, this selectiveness adds texture. Layers. Warmth. If you read back in this blog post for instance, you’ll find I chose many words relating to fabric. That’s intentional. Books are woven together like a fine cloth.

If you’re reading too quickly, you might be missing a subtly that will provide a more enjoyable, more meaningful read. As this article on slow reading in the Washington Post states, “it’s about pleasure more than efficiency.” I think I’ll try that on this year.

On my reading list this year (delightfully) are friends whose books deserve attention:

Mary Chris Escobar’s How to Be Alive
Jon Sealy’s The Whiskey Barron
Beth Macy’s Factory Man
Ann Westrick’s Brotherhood

What are you reading?

Sign up for my blog on the right, and watch for changes and more author news soon. Happy New Year.