Over two years ago, my life hit a tough emotional speed bump, one of those experiences in life that wasn’t over in a week or a month or even a year. When this began, I lost all desire to read fiction. I scarfed up non-fiction that would help me find courage and hope. In addition to my Bible, I read books such as Streams in the Desert and Broken on the Back Row and In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart and When I Lay My Isaac Down. None of these books dealt specifically with my personal trial and heartache, but they all helped me lean into God and trust in Him to walk me through.
Anyway, back to the fiction. Never since I was a kid in school has there been a period of time when I have not had a novel that I was in the process of reading. It was strange and frustrating to say the least to not only not want to read fiction but to be unable to read it. I felt cut adrift. I kept trying to find a story that would draw me into its fictional world but nothing worked. Not historicals. Not contemporaries. Not suspense or comedy or drama. Not even my most favorite authors could capture my attention. (FYI, I was listening to fiction audio books during this period so I wasn’t totally without entertainment.)
But finally, after about a year and a half of my fiction reading drought, the desire to read novels returned. Very slowly, but it returned. The first novel I chose took me about six months to read. The next one about six weeks. And the next, less than three weeks. I WAS BACK!!! To add icing to the cake, I began reading instead of watching TV while on the exercise cycle, and I’m now so into the stories that I forget to check the clock and am riding longer and farther than my goal. (Today was 15.5 miles in 33 minutes.)
The audio book I just finished is Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. I think I liked this even better than The Kite Runner, perhaps because Suns is written from the women’s POV. This was a heartbreaking and painful story much of the time but still one of hope in a brutal world. It slowed down a bit toward the end (after Miriam is with the Taliban — I won’t say more than that as don’t want to give too much away). It felt like I was being told what happened rather than experiencing it with the characters. But the ending itself left me satisfied.
And even though I haven’t finished it yet, I must recommend Kristin Billerbeck’s wonderful new novel, The Trophy Wives Club. In her usual charming style, Kristin has written a story about the heartbreak of divorce and the sometimes judgmental instead of compassionate attitude of the church toward those who are divorced or divorcing. The ability to bring humor into a painful situation is a great talent, indeed. I will be very much surprised if this doesn’t end up being my favorite Kristin Billerbeck novel.
PS I am hard at work on revisions of my novel that releases next summer. More about this book somewhere in a future blog post.