Recently, a candidate for a high profile job at our local university said this during a presentation as part of the job interview: “I don’t read novels. I tend to only read books that make me a better person.”
Oof. What a thing to say in a town that’s proud of its deep, rich literary history. Langston Hughes and William Burroughs both lived here. Lawrence is home to more than one of Kansas’s poets laureate as well as the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Our coffee shops, bars, and independent bookstores regularly host well-attended readings and other literary events. We’re a community that thrives on reading and writing of all types.
|"William S. Burroughs home, Lawrence, KS" |
by Topeka Public Library is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Beyond the personal delight of finding the perfect story, though, many strong relationships have been built on a foundation of books. In mid-May, we gathered for a weekend camping reunion with a group of dear but geographically scattered friends. Three of us sat by the campfire and swapped book recommendations for hours, just like old times. The exchange of perspectives and ideas each month at my book club stokes my enthusiasm to read outside my favorite genres and topics.
But maybe the best bonds forged by a mutual love of books have been within our little nuclear family.
|The boy's reading selections for |
a six-day road trip in 2014.
Later, when he was a very early teen, we gave him a copy of Blood Magic by local author Tessa Gratton. I shared his joy when he got to meet her in person at our library. Blood Magic is still his favorite book, and that’s a bond we will always have.
So do I read books that make me a better person? Yes I do. The fact that most of my favorites are fiction doesn’t make the things they teach me any less real.
How have novels made you a better person?
What novels would you recommend I add to my list in my quest to become a better person through fiction?