I read nine novels this month. 3,565 pages.
Until this month fiction has always seemed like such a waste of time. When I’ve tried to read novels before I can’t stop thinking about the 1,638 other things I could be doing that are more important. Most of the books that fill my shelves are about following Jesus, church ministry, marriage, and leadership. See: Reading Proverbs
Even though I’m new to the fiction fan club, I’ve always loved reading. When I was a kid I was the reason nobody else brought home reading point prizes. That’s right, I used to brag about how good I was at reading. No wonder junior high was rough.
I wanted to force myself to read five novels in November. Reading fiction makes you more creative, a better story-teller, etc. Well, five novels turned into nine novels because I got hooked.
After nine novels (3,565 pages) here’s what I learned.
1. TV is overrated.
We haven’t had cable in years but you can watch a lot of TV with Netflix and Hulu, which we do have…along with MLB.tv…which thrills my wife to no end. We don’t really binge watch stuff – I can’t sit still for that long doing nothing. But somehow the TV just always seemed to be on in the background as we were working on other things or eating dinner, etc.
I have a few shows that I enjoy watching every week on Hulu (Blacklist and Scandal are my current favorites) but outside of catching up on those on my day off, I read all month. My wife and I ate dinner at the table – sometimes with our books! I didn’t miss a thing, especially not the constant barrage of commercials. (If at this point you want to be a snob and brag about your DVR fast forwarding skills, allow me to compare my TV bill to yours).
2. Trying new stuff is good for you, especially if that’s not your thing (me!).
I love routine. I dislike change.
If I find something I like to eat at a restaurant, I’ll hardly ever order anything else.
For me it was fiction. What is it for you? What new thing(s) do you need to try this month?
3. Women are awesome.
My full reading list is at the bottom of this article but I especially enjoyed the newer novels I read written by women where the protagonist or main character was a woman. I was telling a friend about such a novel when I caught myself using the phrase “strong female character” which is like white people describing an African American woman as a “nice black lady.” Why shouldn’t black women be nice and why shouldn’t female characters be strong? If it were a white woman would she be a nice white lady? If it were a strong male character would I have said that?
From my place of privilege (I’m a middle class white American man – Donald Trump‘s dream citizen) I don’t often thing about the obstacles others have had to overcome. Minorities, women, the poor, etc. Two of my top three novels were written by women and the best character development I read this month came was penned by females.
I’m grateful for the women in my life and want to spend the rest of my life fighting for them to have every chance and opportunity that a man has to succeed.
4. Reading every day is easy.
I spent $0 to read nine novels in 30 days. The public library system in my city is tremendous. They have four library locations and offer e-book borrowing options as well as tons of audio books on CD (every car ride adds up).
All it cost me was time. I rarely sat down and read for much more than an hour at a time. Most sessions were 15-20 minutes at a time. I carried a book with me everywhere I went and anytime I had to wait on anyone or anything I read. Instead of watching TV at the end of the day, I read for 20 minutes. It all adds up. You and I make time for what we care about most. Anytime you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time” just replace it with “I’m just choosing to do other stuff.” See: I’m So Glad I’m Failing
5. You can spend a LOT less time on social media and still not miss stuff.
I basically eliminated the scrolling aimlessly through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. over the last month.
I still checked everything everyday and I found that I didn’t miss anything significant. I saw all the babies, engagements, weddings, football games (shut-up about Baylor), basically all the stuff that makes social media awesome.
I love social media. I love the influence it can have for good and I love how it connects and shrinks the world. I also loved having something much more exciting to look forward to every day.
Last Month’s Fiction Reading List
- The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (my #2 Tropper next to This is Where I Leave You)
- The Martian by Andy Weir (if you’re remotely interested in science this book is incredible. If you’re not, go see the movie. It’s actually almost as good as the book).
- How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper (love, lust, the suburbs, and manhood)
- Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein (I got on a space kick after Martian – this was about 150 pages too long but an excellent story).
- Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (the “naked” refers to an acoustic album…just throwing that out there)
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (probably my favorite of the month) – audiobook was great
- Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassan (I love Hiassan – dark humor, satire, poetic justice, all things Florida)
- Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (The plot twists in this book are unreal but there’s some sexual sadism I could have done without).
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Amazon’s best book of 2015 – excellent novel exploring themes of race, gender, family, and identity).
Do you read fiction? What’s the last great novel you read?