Reflecting on my summer of fiction

(And some changed reading habits)

At the start of the summer I wrote about having a break from reading books that teach me something and, instead, only reading fiction, something I don’t often do nowadays. I am delighted I made this decision. Giving my brain some breathing space and immersing myself solely in other, fictional worlds has been immensely refreshing.

I’ve not read as many books as I hoped but the three I have, I’ve enjoyed throughly. My Brilliant Friend¹ by Elena Ferrante was not a book I’d naturally have gravitated towards and though slow in pace, it was a delight to read. The characters had real depth and kept me interested and intrigued throughout.

The Versions of Us² by Laura Barnett was wonderful and evocative. Exploring the lives of two people from three alternative futures felt like a current day version of Sliding Doors, a favourite film of mine. I found myself thinking a lot about my own life, the choices I’ve made, and how life might have unfolded in different ways.

My third book, which I’m actually still reading, is by an author I hadn’t previously heard of, and it too is shaping up to be a great choice. It’s called Here I Am³ by Jonathan Safran Foer and I’m enjoying this so much. The way in which he brings the leading family to life in the book is breathtaking. I don’t know where it’s all going to end up, but I’m hooked.

Changing reading habits

With this last book I made a change in my reading habits too. For some years now, ninety five percent of my reading has been done on my iPad or iPhone. I love eBooks and don’t have any of the issues some people have with reading on backlit screens.

But with this book, I decided to buy it in hardback. And I’m loving it! There is something wonderful about holding a book in your hands—particularly a hardback one. Not being able to read it on the bus (where I do most of my daily reading) is also requiring me to keep the television off more in an evening and set aside time to read then. And I think this too is making the whole reading experience more enjoyable.

Whether this leads to a complete about turn on reading physical books, I don’t know. I do know I’m enjoying having this one in hardback.

All in all, though I’m now slowly introducing some other non-fiction books back into the mix, I am determined to read fiction more frequently. I find that reading fiction helps me to feel things that otherwise I’d never feel. It connects with me on an emotional level that non-fiction books rarely can. And I can see how that is healthy for me as a person.

¹ Thanks to 1843 Magazine’s Holiday Read’s article for nudging me towards this book.

² This book I heard about thanks to a post on Instagram by Laura Jane Williams.

³ Anastasiya Mozgovaya told me about this book—thanks! And this review in The Times(£) persuaded me to give it a go.

Image: Larm Rmah

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