From poetry to fiction to creative nonfiction, writers and readers both find lessons to learn in each genre that are uniquely different. If this was not the case, there would only be one way to write, right? In our current world where pandemia isolates us, pick up your favorite book and allow some good writing to take you places. You just have to decide where you want to go, and how.


Poetry is like a painting: it needs more than one read, or one glance, for you to see what it wants you to see. A good poem teaches that you can turn anything in life into a work of art, each word with purpose and all the words together creating a coordinated swipe across the page like brushstrokes of a larger painting. A good poem is an enigma, compressing beautifully complex messages that can’t even be fully captured in many words, let alone few. A good poem therefore challenges you to notice and fill in the gaps.

Reading recommendation: The Grit and Joy of Being by Anne Poarch


If reading poetry is experiencing little slices of life, fiction is experiencing the whole story. Fiction allows you to live a life that is not your own and thus partake in a journey where you learn about the joy of living through another. You’re allowed to see with others’ eyes and are trusted with the shoes the story puts you into. Readers also realize a bigger message: we are not an island. Throughout our days, so many unique stories surround us—the person passing you in the grocery store or driving alongside you on the highway. Where are they going? How do they feel today? You don’t know, but in a story you are trusted with the front-row view.

Fiction reminds us to notice those stories around us in our lives. It helps us practice empathy without consciously making an effort—for to truly consume fiction, we cannot press our own stories, ways, and ideas onto the text. We must see and believe it as it is, and put our own agendas aside for the moment. When we crack open a book of fiction, we are devoting ourselves to the page.

Reading recommendation: The Precariousness of Done by Tony Houck


And if reading fiction is experiencing the whole story, reading creative nonfiction is experiencing the whole story but with a promise that the window is clear. There are no sparkles on the windowpane or fringe and curtains around the edges. The window is clear all the way through. What you read is what you see, and what the author saw. The words are an honest look into a life, and the writer is responsible for being accurate and honest. As a reader, we feel humbled that the author has trusted us with their truth.

Reading recommendation: Wacky on the Junk by Kathy Varner

So sit back and pick your poison! Don’t go into crowds, wash your hands, and let the words take you where you would go if you could. And if you don’t like where you’re going, never hesitate to write it yourself.

written by Paloma Ferraz