It’s Thanksgiving week and I am grateful for good books. Fiction–good fiction–is the most emotionally-satisfying and intellectually-engaging object that is easily available to most anyone. I come by this realization honestly. For years my reading diet consisted of pop non-fiction of the moment and breezy pageturners that I could finish in 36 hours at the beach. Reading was not a thought-provoking pleasure for me, but rather an efficient means of processing information or a diversion from the tedium of my life.
My job is part of the reason for this. It required me to process a lot of information. But it was also related to a lack of empathy, I think. I had a hard time relating emotionally to characters, thus I relied on books for information but not for emotional understanding of our world, or for answers to the existential questions that plague us like, ‘How do we come to terms with death?’ ‘What is the appropriate way to treat our parents?’ ‘In a world in which religion feels out of step with the times where do we go for answers to our moral dilemmas and comfort in our sorrows?’ And perhaps the greatest question of all: ‘How in God’s name are we supposed to deal with other people?’
Fiction has started providing me with answers to some of these questions. Sunday is a day for family and reflection so I will start using that day to post either a recipe or a book review. Stay tuned.