What should you read next if your just reading fiction now? Fiction may offer the answer. "Fiction is the gateway drug to reading”. This statement was made by Neil Gaiman, a successful fiction and fantasy writer. If fiction does, as this implies, addict us, then what do we read next? What is the next literary genres that would follow? Another question is why does it addict us? Gaiman suggests, it is because fiction drives us to want to know what happens next. It becomes exciting, and it satisfies the excitement, as we turn the pages.
In my recent post, “Fiction let you see with others eyes” I also quoted Gaiman, as he discussed the change in the schooling in China. They had added fiction, even emphasizing science fiction reading, to the required subjects because they felt it stimulated creativity.
What would naturally follow fiction, for an addicted reader? Does one stay with fiction throughout their reading life, or do they move to the classic’s or some specialty niche?
Maybe the fiction itself makes the decision for the reader as to what comes next? When we read fiction, it increases our imagination and would result in our finding something new of interest. The new things we find may lead us in a direction. Maybe science, history or art? Maybe we look for a biography of a person with an area of similar interest to our own.
Writing for these posts has required looking at various books for the contributions to what is presented.
Rather than try to suggest that there is an exact answer as a next step I will give an example of a step by step approach I used in moving from one book to another.
I was fascinated with the movie “Apocalypse Now”. If you had not read Joseph Conrad’s book, “Heart of Darkness” maybe Apocalypse Now would have just been a war movie with little reason to give it a second thought. However, the movie and the book were using mostly the same plot. The book was considered one of Conrad’s best but it did create some backlash. It wasn’t until after I saw the movie that I even thought of the book and had not associated the book with the movie before. My next step was to reread “Heart of Darkness”. I agreed with what many reviewers had said about the book. Conrad was brilliant and it probably was his best book. A negative was how the plot took white men into the jungle where uncivilized people lived. Their image as a people was not presented well. This was a point of criticism, especially the African writers of the book.
I was surprised that the movie did not draw much criticism or comment about the same issues?
I wanted to find another perspective. I wondered if there were good African writers that I could read? At that point in my life I had never looked for African writers. I looked and found many good ones who were respected for their work. I found several authors of interest. Chinua Achebe, Helen Oyememi, Chris Abani, and Elaine Neil Orr made my list. Chinua Archebe was, at the time, the best known and his book, “Things Fall Apart”, seemed to be the perfect “other point of view” I was looking for. This book is indeed something that should be read by anyone who reads “Heart of Darkness”.
It has been at least 20 years since I first read “Things Fall Apart” and discovered Chinua Archebe as an author. The book must have resonated because today it is the most translated African work of all time. It has been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 8 million copies.
In “Things Fall Apart” the main character was Okonkwo from the Igbo village in Nigeria. He was a hard man. In the beginning of the book the local culture seemed rough and hard.
The natives in the movie were not Africans but they looked very uncivilized. The Africans appeared this way at the beginning of the book, but as the book proceeded that changed. By the time you finished the book you could see the humanity of the local people and the real problem brought by the white missionaries. The value of their culture became clear and the damage done by the outsiders was clear.
I won’t go into the details of the book too much. It is a book you ought to read.
The book had a powerful and sad ending.
The movie was powerful, and it ended.