Monday, August 22, 2016

For the Love of Nonfiction (The Surprising Confessions of a Fiction Fangirl)

I have a picture frame hanging on the wall near my front door. Beneath the collage of my loved ones and me rests this saying: Life makes the best story of all. 

Over the past few months, I've been reveling in the story of life...the twists and turns and beautiful adventures that end up so much more unique and challenging and grand than you could have anticipated. And don't get me wrong: I've been enjoying plenty of fictitious journeys along the way, because there's something special about meeting new characters and learning more about love and life through their ups and downs.

Yes, I still love a good novel. I've just been pleasantly surprised to discover how precious nonfiction can be, and how it can enhance a life story in subtle, wonderful ways.

This fiction fangirl has discovered that nonfiction isn't always as dry and boring as she thought. Imagine that! :)

Instead of taking me on a fictional adventure, nonfiction has come alongside me on my real-life adventure and helped me ponder the paths I can take and the kind of person I can become. I'd love to share with you some of the titles that have blessed and blindsided me in really good ways...


- Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and Scary Close by Donald Miller

I have become a huge fan of Donald Miller's work! His words comfort and challenge, shining a light that reveals surprising, relatable thoughts and makes the reader squirm and squint a bit. Do I always agree or understand? No. I found that the last part of Blue Like Jazz didn't resonate as well for me as the first two-thirds did. And yet I love, love, love that Don's books make me think and see new faith connections and insights. 

Blue Like Jazz is inspiring and powerful with its deep spiritual themes. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years helped me see more clearly how analyzing stories - the elements of the fiction I love - can show me what it takes to make my own life story one full of meaningful scenes and ultimate purpose. And Scary Close shares some great thoughts on taking the risk of vulnerability in relationships. 

- Simply Tuesday and A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Of these two, I think Simply Tuesday stood out to me the most, but A Million Little Ways has some thought-provoking passages of its own! What does it look like to truly live life in the everyday sense? How would our lives be transformed if we embraced what awaits us on our ordinary Tuesdays? And what about art and calling? Does it have to look a certain way...or can Jesus shine through us in unexpected, everyday avenues that might look far different from our typical perception of a "calling"?

It's freeing to realize how beautifully extraordinary our ordinary days can be, because it's in these days that life actually happens. That's a lesson I think I can stand to keep learning and learning. :)

- I Don't Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton

This book is deceptively simple in some ways. But it packs a power punch as it makes you wonder, Am I fully surrendered to God? Am I willing to follow where He leads? Will I open my eyes to see the exciting possibilities awaiting me...and the people I can love right here and now? 

I also love how this book encourages you to really prioritize being in Scripture, seeking God's amazing adventures by first spending time in His Word. And Grace's encouragement to come to the Bible with the goal of knowing God - not the goal of finding answers - may seem obvious when you hear it, but is truly revolutionary.

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I've currently got my bookmarks in some other nonfiction titles, which I'm looking forward to reading more of soon...

- The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee

- You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan

- Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance by Donald Miller [Yep, another Donald Miller book - published by Harvest House! :)]

- Love Does by Bob Goff [So far, this has been rather entertaining and inspiring!]

- Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst [On my Fire tablet. I really liked The Best Yes, and Lysa has a great grasp of what it takes to write in a compelling, marketable way.]

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As I mentioned earlier in this post, I've still been reading some fiction, and I hope to share some new reviews with you soon. :) But I've been getting such unexpected joy from reading nonfiction this year that I thought it would be worth sharing. While the growth these sorts of books encourage takes time, I'm hoping some of the beautiful truths and motivating questions will stick with me and continue to poke and prod me in good directions. 

Tell me, friends, have you read some really compelling nonfiction (or fiction!) lately? It's been too long since I've checked in, and I'd love to hear about what you've been reading!

4 comments:

Miranda Atchley said...

I've been missing your posts this summer! But we all need to take a break here and there, and I'm glad to see you back. I love, love, love Blue Like Jazz. It's one of my all-time favorites! I want to read Scary Close sometime.

P.S. I love your tea cup! It's cute. :)

serena said...

I've been pleasantly surprised by nonfiction, too! I'm always afraid to pick it up, because I've abandoned so many dry nonfiction books partway through, but I'm finding more and more that are true gems. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris actually made it to my favorites list!

Serena
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Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

Aww, I've missed chatting more with you and all our blogging/tweeting friends! While I'm not sure how regularly I'll be blogging, it's been nice catching up a bit and jumping back in, and I always enjoy chatting books. :)

I really loved Blue Like Jazz too! Soooo thought-provoking! And I think Scary Close is a great read. :) Some helpful and encouraging thoughts on what it takes to have an authentic relationship. Here's a line I highlighted in my Kindle version:

I thought about that, then, about how much I fear change, even change for the better. I thought about how there are so many lies in fear. So much deception. What else keeps us from living a better story than fear?

Looking through the quotes I highlighted (I love that Goodreads is now offering that feature, where you can take a quick run-through of your highlights and notes!), I'm thinking this one would be worth a re-read in the not-too-distant future. :)

Thanks so much for the comment and visit, friend!

~Amber

P.S. Thank you! I'm quite fond of this little teacup. :) I actually got it from a box of free things! A little treasure of a find, for sure.

Amber Stokes said...

Serena,

I know what you mean! I think the structure of non-fiction has seemed so boring to me...like extended essays with outlines to prove points. It's just hard to imagine non-fiction being as entertaining as fiction and holding my attention for long.

But like you, it's been such a lovely surprise to discover some real gems - and I've found myself being drawn more to non-fiction, hoping to find more thought-provoking insights and powerful real-life stories!

After looking up the description for The Cloister Walk on Goodreads, I'm intrigued! That's quite the premise, and I'm curious about the author's experiences and what her thoughts are on monasticism as a married woman. Sounds like a very interesting read!

Thank you for stopping by! :)

~Amber