Reading Beyond Reason—Encountering Edu-tainment

writers and readersI’ve been at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference all week and had a FABULOUS time! Liz Curtis Higgs and Georgene Rice were our keynote speakers, and we had wonderful editor and agent workshops each day to hone our writing craft.

This conference was extra special because my two best friends and critique partners, Meg Wilson (middle) and Velynn Brown (left), also attended. I met Meg eight years ago at a writers conference in California, but this was the first time Velynn and I have experienced the “world of writer geeks” together! It’s so great to be with our own people! 😉 What is it about bookies that make us stick together like dog-eared pages?

Why Do You Like to Read?

Some would say asking them to explain their love of reading is like asking, “Why do you blink?” or “Why do you like chocolate?”

We just DO!

Granted, we must blink as a necessary response to a physiological need, but chocolate…? Imagine the hysteria that would sweep the nation if we suddenly ran out of chocolate! It’s beyond reason! But hysteria it would be!

Try to explain why you like mustard or hate the taste of cinnamon. Try to describe a sound to one who has not heard or a sight to one who has not seen. Our tastes and desires are as unique and indescribable as the very souls God knit together within us.

Why Do You Like to Read Books?

Why not read a series of magazine articles instead of books? What is it about books that draw you? They seem to draw us into another world—whether fiction or non-fiction. For a few moments each day, we can immerse ourselves in a story or explore challenging spiritual insights and forget about the dirty dishes or overdrawn bank account. A good Bible study or Christian Living book can fuel mighty changes in our lives and supplement a daily diet of Scripture.

Why Do You Like to Read Fiction?

I’ve often been told that readers of fiction simply enjoy the story. They love to escape into that well-crafted, exciting, romantic world of protagonist and antagonist. The best-of-the-best authors and editors teach writers to create a story that flows through readers’ minds, never interrupting the flow—like a dream—to the very last turn of the page. But good authors and editors also teach that a great story must meet a need, answer a question, evoke emotion.

Biblical Novels Offer Edu-tainment

When I receive feedback from readers, it often includes something encouraging about the research I include in the biblical storylines. Folks seem to enjoy learning about biblical times, cultures, and lands. Readers also express their relief at finally comprehending a difficult passage of Scripture. Let’s face it. Job, Song of Solomon, and Hosea (the subjects of my first three novels) aren’t leisurely reading, right? However, there’s also an element of entertainment—and emotional experience, whether it was romance, heartache, or joy.

Reading Beyond Reason

Why do you read God’s Word? On my best days, God’s Word is life and breath to me. I meditate all day on what I read early in the morning, and I move from New Testament to Old Testament, receiving new insights from my Master Teacher. But I must confess. I’ve recently been so busy writing blog posts, newsletters, revisions and new chapters that I’ve missed the simple pleasure of letting Scripture “steep” like a strong cup of tea. I’ve been reading for REASONS.

The same thing happened long ago in Galilee. Jesus preached His heart out on a hillside, and before anyone noticed the time, everyone was famished! So, rather than making a run to McDonald’s, Jesus miraculously provided a free meal for 5,000 people.

Jesus then disappeared to the other side of the Lake, but the people followed. Why? Was it because they wanted to absorb more of His Word? Hear more of His wisdom? Simply BE in His presence to worship Him? Nope. They just wanted more bread. This was Jesus’ reply to them…and His Word to me today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Jesus offers more than a full stomach or tools for living. He offers Himself—to be smeared-on, bathed-in, wrapped-around. I plan to spend a little time “steeping” in my Savior…

Tweet-A-Licious!

Today’s Questions:

  • How often do you read a biblical novel (compared to other types of fiction)?
  • What else do you find in a GREAT novel?
  • Are there other reasons you like to read books?

About Mesu Andrews

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Comments

  1. There is something about a good novel that provides satisfaction! I read plenty of fiction and nonfiction so I am not sure what my preference is. In the early morning hours I was restacking my books onto shelves (which I still don’t have enough of! Ha!:) and thinking how ridiculous it looked but wouldn’t want it any other way, except more organized. But I digress, I want to able to glean something from a book whether it is knowledge or a deeper understanding of spiritual truths or human needs. I guess that is where biblical/ historical fiction come in. In a fiction book one can glean a deeper understanding of the Bible or history that they may not get elsewhere. In the end that is probably my favourite genre. I could continue but I’ll let that suffice!

  2. A fantastic reflection Audrey. I love that you read a balance of both fiction and non-fiction. Lately, I’ve found that I read mostly fiction (and mostly biblical novels)–first, because I love them and second, because they help me stay informed about what’s on the market. But I’ve let the intellectual challenge of non-fiction works flag in my daily life, and I miss that. Definitely something I’m looking to change in the coming days!
    Blessings on ya, gal!

  3. I am definitely a story-lover. I could hear some great truth preached and read 15 non-fiction books about it, but I wouldn’t be able to apply it to my life until I heard or read a story illustrating it. I read mostly fiction, maybe 10% Biblical fiction. What makes a novel great to me besides the obvious ones like great characters and fresh plots, is a good theme of redemption. I love finding redemptive themes and analogies in unlikely places, including TV shows and foreign cultures and religions, and I’m always hunting for them. (They’re usually easiest to find in Biblical novels but they are also the richest there.) I love to see how God has put “eternity in the hearts of men” by finding little witnesses of the Gospel everywhere I can.

    • Hi Tina!
      I love looking for the redemptive message in EVERYTHING we read/watch. My hubby took a class during his doctoral work, and the professor suggested that exact strategy. It changed the way we looked at our whole world. Amazing.

      And I love your comments on “story.” I’ve found the best non-fiction books are those that teach their message through story–either true stories or applicable fiction. I think that’s why I love Liz Higgs’ BAD GIRLS books so much. They mingle her fabulous gift of fiction-writing with her knowledge of God’s Word.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You’re a blessing!

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