Why Reading Fiction is a Novel Idea

We all know about the importance of reading, but what about fiction as opposed to non-fiction?  When it comes to quality fiction (paranormal romance and manga omitted) it is almost more important than non-fiction. You can learn about everything from non-fiction – the world, history, health, culture and so on – but the fact remains that fiction teaches you about yourself, and in many cases shapes you.

We have already talked about how reading is good for you and even how not being a reader may be deleterious for your health. However, the real topic today is why fiction is truly important. Fiction teaches you about you.  Fiction is a mirror that looks back at you and examines your strengths and flaws. It is a compass for the ideas you have and what you think and who you are. Fiction allows you to be someone else and allows you to learn about yourself. It feeds the imagination which is even more important.

And sometimes, just sometimes, fiction comes along which changes you. That speaks to you on such a level that you walk away from the book a different person. There are few book experiences in the world like the once I’m describing, but that is what makes it so special. The Japanese have a word, ukiyo, which means a fleeting beauty and a floating world. Books that change you, that teach you hidden things about yourself are rare, and to be treasured like the world’s most precious gem.

How do you find good fiction?  This is the ever present question that all book lovers have to deal with. The answer is not singular. It can be from others, reviews (which I highly do not recommend) or just by browsing.  Someone once said that finding a book is like prostitution. You walk into the store and books call to you like lovers promising pleasures. Their spines are supple and ornately decorated to catch your eye. You can look them over, but you won’t know how good they are until you take the time to try it. Even the scent of paper and binding is a perfume meant to entice, to say, “spend the night with me, I will make your dreams come true”.

I believe fiction will always be better than non-fiction. Fiction teaches you about yourself, which other books cannot (including self-improvement books) It is the once place where you can escape and yet examine at yourself at the same time. Books are more than just for pleasure. They are for our life. They show us who we are, who we want to be. They give us lives to live and help us become who we are. A life reading is a life lived.

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”

~ Will Rogers


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