My Return to Fiction

The Realization

When I started working at Frontline Church in 2010, I knew I’d have to catch up on some serious reading. I came from a church background that mainly lived off of the Mardel Top Ten list. The men and women in leadership at my current church job have reading lists that might have topped Mardel’s Top Ten list in the 1500’s.

So, for the last ten years I’ve been packing in the deep reading. Calvin, Luther, Augustine of Hippo were some of the old guys. The modern crew includes guys like Storms, Keller, Stott, Packer, Sproul, and Piper, to name a few. Thankfully, I love reading and I’m a fast reader (not to toot my own horn too much) and I’ve really enjoyed the journey the Lord has had me on.


In the summer of 2018 I was able to go on an extended sabbatical. Thankfully, the leadership of Frontline sees the importance of taking much needed physical and spiritual rest and recuperation after many years of solid labor.

During this break I spent a lot of time in my Bible. I woke up and read on my front porch, I studied on my bed, I even tempted fate and read the Bible on my Kindle in the bathtub. When you don’t have to get up and go to work, you end up have quite a few hours during the day available to you.

A Love for Fiction

After cleaning my garage out for the second time, I decided to head to the Kindle Store to figure out what more I could read and that’s where I rediscovered my love for fiction. Give me a solid thriller with a touch of mystery woven throughout and a bit of a love story and I’m all in.

Over the last year, I’ve been treating myself to a nice fiction read on a near monthly basis. Yes, I still have a lot of theological development to do, but I’m trying to keep a two to one rhythm rolling (two books for development to one fiction read). Why? Well, I find that I’ve had a few positive benefits that I really wasn’t expecting.

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

  • I sleep better after reading at night instead of watching TV, there’s no doubt about it.
  • Reading keeps me connected to my heart. I rarely cry or feel the ups and downs of any real emotion when watching TV or a movie. When I read books there seems to be a real connection to my feelings and this has a positive impact on how I interact with family, friends, and coworkers. A Rex that is tender is a much better one to be around. Feel free to ask my wife about that fact.
  • The stress of daily living is high, reading takes me out of that mess and I can tell that the stress is kept at bay. As a matter of fact, recent research shows that reading can reduce stress levels by 68%. That’s more than listening to music, drinking tea, and even taking a walk.
  • Reading keeps your brain in tiptop shape and can keep future deterioration at bay. I feel like I’m thinking more clearly, my memory is stronger, and I’m learning new words all the time.
  • Finally, I’m just so happy when I get to crack open a fun new read. Just today, I finished Odd Thomas and experienced the highs and lows of the final couple of chapters and am now excited to get into the second book.


If you haven’t read anything longer than a long-winded friend’s Facebook post in a while, pick up a good book. See if you observe any of the benefits that I’ve been seeing. When you do find that next great read, be sure to share it with me on Twitter. I’ll pick it up!

Rex Barrett @rexbarrett