One of the problems with this age of information, is that everyone can access the best. There’s a breed of person that seeks the best books of each genre, the best martial art, the best instrument, the best languages, the best spiritual practises, the best travel, the best hobbies, the best view, the form of beauty, the best dating advice, the best sexual strategy, the best life. The western tradition, scientific consensus, American technology and culture, eastern mysticism, Christian ethics, indigenous naturalism. Prestige. I am most certainly like this.
I’ve found that this makes living like a science rather than an art. A predictable game. Globally homogenous. One’s mind and viewpoint is remarkably similar to others who make those same choices.
I find that books can broadly be classified into 3 use cases. Classics: which serve to deepen the intellect and speak to the human condition. Nonfiction and biography: these are useful or interesting. Fiction: art, a story with characters, to make us care.
The latter, fiction, I believe is the remedy to the cookie cutter phenomenon of taking best practise. Good contemporary novels typically want desperately to be subjective in truth not universal. Characters have intriguing idiosyncrasies. Quaint and quirky things happen. Poetic impressions serve to fill the pages rather than academically accepted truth. It’s about people rather than ideas, and people are inherently different.
I’ve found that reading a good novel, for enjoyment, has awoken me to something I haven’t felt since I started actually achieving my goals: the originality of people and experience. The sovereignty of emotional impression. The poetry of relationship. The joy of not making sense. The self esteem of authenticity. The fascination of mystery and something different.