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The dangers of reading fiction

David Epps's picture

I have not been an avid fan of fiction — at least when it comes to reading. I do read a great deal when I get the time but it’s usually non-fiction. Much of it is related to my profession, of course. I also like to read biographies and books on history. I also read magazines: news magazines, military magazines, motorcycles magazines, and religious magazines.

I decided to do a change-up on all that recently when my wife and I spent a few days on Jekyll Island. I took along four fiction novels, not expecting to read any of them. With me went “Double Bluff,” by Michael A. Hawley, and “Vertical Coffin,” by Stephen J. Cannell, both police novels. I also took ”The Kingmaker,” a political novel by Brian Haig, and “Carte Blanche,” a fairly new James Bond tale by Jeffery Deaver.

We arrived late on a Sunday evening and, by Thursday, I had finished the first three books. To say I got engrossed would be an understatement. In the room, at the pool, on the beach, in the barber shop in Brunswick ... the novel of the moment was with me.

I can see why people get involved in these created worlds of intrigue, murder, espionage, romance, and danger. Speaking of danger, there is the very real danger of getting lost in the reading of these works.

Thursday late afternoon came and I took 007 with me to the beach. I planted the beach chair, that I had purchased at a shop on Monday, in the sand facing the Atlantic waves and, savoring the sun and a constant breeze, turned to the page where Bond was now in South Africa. As the sun began to sink, I turned the chair away from the ocean and, facing the sun, continued to read.

Finally, after being lost in the story for I-don’t-know-how-long, I tore my eyes away from the pages to notice that the water was terribly close to my chair. As I looked around, I suddenly realized that, without my notice or my permission, the tide had come in and I was totally surrounded by foaming water. I had, it seems, perched my chair on a sandbar and now that sandbar, with me on it, was an island of its own.

As I looked toward the beach, I could see that very few people were left, most having gone to dinner. The sun was near to setting and a great expanse of water separated me from the sand. I jumped up hastily, collapsing and destroying my brand new beach chair in the process. Holding the book over my head and dragging my broken chair through the waves I made my way to the beach. Shortly, the sandbar disappeared beneath the waters.

I pondered about what had nearly happened. Had I been out much longer, the ways would have overtaken me and I might have lost my book to the ocean and never discovered what evil the protagonist was truly up to! It was a very close call.

I parked my broken chair next to a trash can, made my way back to the hotel room, turned on a lamp next to the sofa, and resumed reading. Who knew that reading fiction could be so dangerous?

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese ( and is the associate endorser for U. S. military chaplains for his denomination. He may be contacted at]


SPQR's picture

good vignette. IMHO I think your strength is when you don't pontificate

Reverend Epps – I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip, and your reading. However, I seem to be missing something here. I don’t see how the fact that you were reading fiction has anything to do with what you experienced. Could one not just as easily become completely engrossed in reading something non-fiction? Or perhaps even the Bible, the Torah, or even the Koran? Reading those could be equally dangerous.

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