In my last post I wrote about a Science article which demonstrated that reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, results in higher levels of emotional intelligence — skills that lead to career success.
I suppose if you want to be wildly successful you should only read great literature, but all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. I'm willing to work hard at understanding a book when I'm rested, but when I'm on a plane or waiting for a doctor's appointment a book has to be easy and entertaining. It's like working out: I feel better if I sweat, but some days all I can manage is a walk around the block. We obviously get more out of a serious workout, and the evidence shows that literature delivers in both the brains and emotional intelligence departments.
The bottom line: reading is wonderful, but I like a balanced diet. Here are the last books I've read. I'll let you decide what is literary fiction . . . all I know is that all of these books were great reads.
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler's List) is an incredible book about two Australian sisters who served as nurses during WWI. I love books about sisters and learned a lot about the Battle of Gallipoli, nerve gas, and "In Flanders Fields." Although I knew the poem, this book personalized the heartbreak represented by those poppies.
Take a Rifle from a Dead Man by Larry Matthews (current good friend, former spouse) is about his father's life. Poignant, well written, and a good read. This would be a great fit for a Veteran's Day program or gift. It was strange to read two war novels in a row (not my favorite genre), but it's the heartbreaking stories behind the war (which both of these books tell) that matter to me.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, was recommended to me by my daughter-in-law (I trust her taste in books). The author explores marriage and motherhood from the perspective of a woman who has lost ten years of her memory. She only knows she is in love with her husband and expecting their first baby — until it dawns on her that she is in the midst of a divorce and has three kids that she can't remember. The book made me think about what I take for granted.
Dear Life by Alice Munro. Ms. Munro, like Jane Austin, is a superb writer. I just started this collection of short stories, and my heart was pounding at story one. I will say that except for my most favorite book, Interpreter of Maladies, short stories tend to end too soon for me, but Munro's writing is an education in the craft. If I read a lot of Alice Munro it would accrue to my writing career bottom line. She is extraordinary. I'm so jealous!
What are you reading?
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