No Fiction, Usually

I am not usually one to read fiction, although I always break this rule the minute a new book by Alexander McCall Smith releases. There are few reading moments that make me happier than those nights before bed when I am in the middle of a made-up adventure of Mma Ramotswe, Isabel Dalhousie, or little Bertie Pollock.

But other than AMS, I mostly read non-fiction books, such as memoirs, devotions, self-help, and curiosities of the culture (think Malcolm Gladwell).

Every once in a while, perhaps when there is a long gap between AMS books, I find myself wishing I had a book to rest with, a book to read not to be better in some way, and not to learn anything, but to read simply to be in a story that’s not my story.

The last book that fit this description for me was a book I saw featured in the People magazine I read when I went on an airplane trip a few weeks ago to visit my sister in Boston. I normally gloss over the Editor’s Picks page in People, but this time I dog-eared the page and put one of the featured books, Where the Crawdads Sing, on hold at our library.


When my turn came, I got the book, a 14-day loan, and read it over the course of ten days (which is to say ten nights). I was drawn into the story right from the start, and I think the author did an exceptional job developing the place, the characters, and the plot. I did not copy a single quote from the book, yet it filled my soul with rest and beauty because of the power of a good story.

The night reading helps me to rest and to wonder and to wander and, perhaps, to dream...Reading these writers gives me time away from the places and things and people I am writing about.
— Robert Benson, Dancing on the Head of a Pen

My night reading now is back to the usual, but it’s also good. My friend Kara lent me Educated, a fascinating memoir about a Mormon family that would not educate their children or partake in the medical establishment. As soon as I finish this story, I’m on to Gisele Bundchen’s memoir, which I decided to get after reading an article on Gisele in that same People magazine.


Read People. Then read, people!