After a due amount of thought, I've decided that you should form a mild obsession with G. K. Chesterton, too.
And so I am going to give you ten good reasons why you should drop whatever you're doing and pick up a volume of Chesterton instead.
1. His quotes are stupendous.
Chesterton's one-liners are perfection. Thus, he is really really really fun to quote. Don't believe me? Google "G. K. Chesterton quotes" and see for yourself. Or just stick around and read the rest of this post - I had lots of fun raiding my Pinterest board for this. :)
Fellow writers, if you ever find yourself doubting the importance of your work, read Chesterton. As a big believer in the value of little things, he puts a great emphasis on the importance of fiction. Fairy-tales, poetry, novels, legends - these are the things, he believes, which shape people's worldviews in sometimes imperceptible but always important ways. A writer comes away from his work with the feeling, "I can add something good to the world just by doing what I love."
Many times I've come across something in Chesterton that makes me crack up laughing - and then cock my head and say, "Oh." Any time you stumble onto one of these paragraphs, you come away with a double jewel: 1) you get to laugh, and 2) you get to ponder an interesting truth for the rest of the day.
Just when I think I can predict Chesterton's opinions on any given matter, he'll come out of the blue with some never-before-heard paradox that knocks me off my balance. Then I hold the book at arm's length, squint at it, and laughingly say, "All right, Chesterton, now you've gone too far."
And then I read the next paragraph.
And then I agree with him.
So, while Chesterton is great fun to argue with, be forewarned that you will probably always lose.
There's a book by Dale Ahlquist called G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense. "Apostle of Common Sense" is really a great title for Chesterton. Lots of people think of Chesterton as too hard or complicated for laymen to read, but really, that's not a proper view. Chesterton's not complicated at all. He's deep, yes, and he's also full of paradoxes that twist your brain in delightful ways; but at the same time he's simple. He's all about bringing out the obvious truths which are in the world all around us, but which we can't see because of all the false philosophy blown off by prominent but ridiculous thinkers all the time.
6. He's eloquent.
One of the most beautiful poems I have ever read is Chesterton's Battle of Lepanto. The rhyme scheme and meter are flawless, the alliteration delightful, the choice of words exquisite; and the poem rolls with rollicking rhythm up hills of suspense and down flights of emotion to a glorious climax and a smile-evoking conclusion.
But it isn't just in poetry that Chesterton writes beautifully. He brings loveliness to all of his writing, whether it be his Fr. Brown detective stories or a book of philosophy.
Chesterton was a brilliant man who converted to Catholic Christianity because he was convinced it was the truth. As you might expect, then, he's fabulous at arguing the good intellectual sense of Christianity. In searching for truth, he found Christianity, and he's very eager to share his discovery with the world.
Hand in hand with this: Chesterton is very passionate about truth - the clear, unchangeable, everlasting truth. There's nothing wishy-washy or vague about Chesterton; he wages a direct and unrelenting war on relativity.
You really can't expect anything else from someone who talks seriously about believing in fairies and dragons. What does it matter if the dragons he speaks of are metaphorical? They're still real, and they're more terrifying and dangerous than anything from Grimm or Perrault.
Chesterton has a trick of pulling the blind of routine away from our eyes and showing us the world as it really appears - as it would appear to someone seeing it for the first time. And it turns out that it's a strange, wonderful, beautiful place.
9. He's delightfully cheeky.
There's something fun about seeing someone poke fun at those the world tends to hold on a pedestal - to see someone who, instead of bowing down in awe, points and cries out, "Why, there's nothing so spectacular about them after all."
That's what Chesterton does all the time - he's like the little boy at the end of The Emperor's New Clothes. He'll take one look at Darwin or Freud and say, "Not only is this philosophy false, it's laughable."
And he does it so calmly, in the affable companionable way of a man leaning back in his chair and remarking on the amusing behavior of a group of funny children.
Goodness, that looks cheesy in writing. Hopefully you know what I mean. Have you ever read so much of an author that you feel that you get to know him? That you could recognize his style, his voice, his opinions on things?
I suppose you can make friends with any author - after all, to share heartfelt writing is to in some way lay bare your soul - but it's especially easy with Chesterton. He's just so likable.
So there it is. Chesterton is amazing. Go read him right now. (The Father Brown stories might be a good place to start, if you need a suggestion.) :)
What do you think? Are you a Chesterton fan? If so, what's your favorite thing about him?