To read fiction rates high among hobbies listed across the adult population in Australia and for many good reasons. We all love a story and most of us like to read for pleasure. Some of my loveliest memories involve reading.
My parents, particularly my father, read to me. He also read novels to my mother on winter evenings in front of the fire, while she knitted clothes for me and my siblings. grew up surrounded by books, for which I’m very grateful.
Fiction, those stories that transport me to other times and places and allow me to be, for a short time, someone other than myself, delight me.
My dear friend, Margaret Gallagher, who died in her nineties, delighted in reading. However, she regularly gave up reading fiction for the Christian season of Lent, in preparation for Easter. She said:
‘I love to read fiction. I’ve loved it all my life. What better preparation for Easter than to give up something you enjoy for a few weeks? But I can’t bring myself to give up reading altogether during Lent, so I read biographies and memoirs instead!
Like all reading fiction entertains, relaxes and stimulates us. But fiction does more: it educates and instructs us.
Human brains crave novelty, and fiction provides novelty in abundance. Whether we read the world’s great classic literature, literary fiction, science fiction, women’s literature, mysteries or horror and spy stories our brains are treated with new ideas and concepts.
Read fiction and enjoy the benefits
Next time someone tries to tell you that to read fiction is a waste of time, use these arguments
- Fiction improves the imagination because it transports us to other worlds. To understand a story, we must try to put ourselves in those places in our imagination.
- Fiction broadens our minds as it exposes us to new ideas and concepts.
- It makes us more empathic as we follow characters who face almost insurmountable odds to reach their goals.
- Different story worlds (physical, geographical, political and sociological) take us to places we didn’t know existed.
- We encounter characters we might never meet in real life (and perhaps would never want to meet).
- Understanding more about what motivates people to act as they do makes us more empathic in real life because we learn more about what motivates people to act as they do.
- Feeling the pain of characters as they struggle with events that beset them makes us more aware of how events affect different people
- Our analytical powers improve as we work to understand the meaning of the story and follow the conflicts and presented by the author.
- We can learn to resolve our own problems through seeing how characters resolve theirs.
- Our vocabulary increases as we meet different characters, see how other people live, and learn about different occupations., ways of life or holiday experiences.
- Our knowledge of geography, politics and history can increase.
- The more we read, the better we write.
- We can read fiction anywhere. It can fill in time while we wait for people or for the dinner to cook.
- Books are portable and light and require no electricity or internet.
- Reading fiction is cheap, enjoyable and absorbing entertainment.
You might like to check out my recent post about the benefits of reading.