Kafka on the books we need

I was struck by this quote from Kafka, which I heard on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac for July 3, 2006:

We need the books that affect us like disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

I have felt something like that with only a few novels — in the past couple of years, Blindness, Sophie’s Choice, Lolita, Executioner’s Song (not really a novel). I spend too much time reading boring nonfiction, which probably adds layers to the frozen sea. I want to read some more good fiction.