If you consider the thousands of different books available in the world, the adage, “So many books, so little time” takes on a completely new meaning.
I love books. In fact, when I moved here to Summit, the movers commented about all the boxes, Father, you have so many books, have you read them all? The answer is yes, because I believe that in reading books, you are also writing your own – creating your story. C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone.”
Surely, all book lovers have their own favorite genre — in fact, probably multiple favorite genres. The genre system first began as a classification process for ancient Greek literature, including poetry, prose, and performance. Each genre has a specific, distinct style relating to theme, content, tone, details, and intensity. More simply, though, you know that all books can be broadly classified under two main categories: fiction and non-fiction.
We know that a work of fiction is one that is derived from the imagination. The great thing about fiction is that it could be inspired or partially borrows from real-life situations. Fictional books are often synonymously categorized under the umbrella term of a “novel.”
The polar opposite of fictional books, nonfiction books are based on facts, true accounts of history and real events. Also, unlike fiction books, nonfiction books have relatively few genres. The most common nonfictional works are biographies, autobiographies, almanacs and encyclopedias. Some of the fictional genres are:
1. Classics - Humorist writer Mark Twain once said, “Classic – a book which people praise and don’t read.”
2. Tragedy - written in a serious style, it focuses on human suffering or tragic events, brought into motion most often by a heroic individual.
3. Science Fiction - An umbrella term dealing with the advanced concepts of science, technology, time travel, space exploration, extra-terrestrial life, alternate timelines, cyberpunk and end of the world. These books often veer off into the world of fantasy, adventure, mystery, supernatural and dystopian fiction.
4. Fantasy - Works of speculative fiction, which generally revolve around magic, the supernatural and witchcraft. A lot of fantasy writers use mythology, theology and folklore as inspiration.
5. Fairytale - Take the form of short stories, usually involving fairies, dwarfs, princesses, goblins, unicorns, elves, talking animals, trolls, dragons and other magical creatures.
6. Adventure - These usually follow a reluctant hero leaving a familiar world behind to embark on a dangerous quest, where s/he encounters challenges, temptations and revelations. Helped along by mentors, guardians and friends, the hero navigates the unfamiliar world of adventure, defeats evil and returns home, successful and transformed.
7. Crime & Mystery - These usually revolve around a mysterious death or a baffling crime that needs to be solved. Usually, the book’s main protagonist is a detective who solves the mystery by logical deductions. The best mystery usually focuses on the starkly different views of morality and the societal aspects that the hero and the antagonist represent.
8. Historical Fiction – These are based less on accurate historical facts and more on imagination, taking place in a setting located in the past and paying attention to the mannerism, society and other details of the period depicted.
9. Humor – These are novel-length works of comedy, wherein the writer seeks to amuse or entertain the reader in a carefully woven narrative. This category needs to be divided into several sub-genres, including shock comedy, horror comedy, irony, satirical and parody.
10. Satire – These feature the abuses, vices, maltreatment, corruption and shortcomings that seek to shame societies, individuals and governments into improvement. Most satirical fictions feature dark humor and irony, although its greater purpose is actually constructive criticism of the society.
11. Romance - Although romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative involving awe-inspiring incidents. These days the genre mostly focuses on a loving relationship between two people. Often, these books end in “happy endings,”.
12. Horror – Horror seeks to provoke feelings of fear, disgust, shock, terror and loathing in the reader, horror books have roots in ancient mythology and folklore. The ancient Romans and Greeks focused on evil, death, afterlife, the demonic and these principles embodied within a person. These elements were manifested into creative works featuring witches, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and other monsters.
And, as I said earlier, nonfiction genres are much fewer than fiction books. As with fiction, they often have cross-genre status, including biographies, autobiographies, almanacs and encyclopedias.
What is the book you are writing with your life? Is it,
- Tragedy? Science-fiction? Fairytale? Horror? Romance or humor? Or what?
Each day, believe it or not we add another page, another chapter, another genre to the story of our lives. And it’s important to be aware because not only are others reading it, so too is the Lord.
Today in the Old Testament reading we hear that God too is writing a book, one that invites us to include our story in it – our life story in God’s great collection. The Book of Daniel, chapter 12, sounds the trumpet of warning today, saying,
At that time, there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.
The chapter is Daniel’s final vision, describing final conflicts, where ultimately some will pass to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt. The text is that of the angel’s words to Daniel, warning him to warn his people.
The authors of the book of Daniel were the maskilim, the wise, of whom Daniel is one. And the job of the maskilim is to make the people understand.
Isn’t that the job of the wise and the learned of our day too? More personally, we are all called to be among the wise and the learned, to be well read … to warn perhaps, but better, to inspire one another … to realize that we are all called to be accountable to our God for our lives ... to be accountable to our God for the way we cared for one another … to be accountable to our God for all God has given us including creation.
And that accountability comes in our writing … writing the story of our lives, each and every day.
So despite all of us having a chapter or two of tragedy, or romance, or satire, or humor, or for some even crime and science fiction, the story of our lives is important to our God … because it is a classic, and contrary to Mark Twain’s words, God does read it every day … and God’s encourages us to live a meaningful life … one based on and modeled after the life and the story of his son Jesus.
In these weeks, in these days of fall, the readings will look to the end times, the last days, reminding us that all this will all end someday, and we will be called back to our God …
This week, let’s works harder as individuals, as families, as a community of faith to model our non-fiction lives on the life of Jesus, so that this adventure, this romance, between God and us will come to a very happy ending ... in heaven.