Reading Fiction is Not a Waste of Time

      Nobody can argue that reading is bad for you. As an avid bookworm myself, I know just as well as anyone how positively reading can affect your life. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a bookmark make its way from the front cover to the back. Unfortunately, there are many people that view reading fiction books as a waste of time. Fiction is just as important of a genre as nonfiction, but the benefits are not always as obvious.

    When children learn to read, the books they first go to are fiction. They are meant to capture the child’s attention and trick them into expanding their vocabulary and improve reading speed while enjoying a cute story. Many of these cute stories also contain moral lessons to teach the reader to share, be kind, be honest, and help others. The fictional aspects of these books help keep children engaged while they learn the lesson which makes the genre crucial to their education.

(Photo via Tatiana Bobkova/Shutterstock)

    As adults, we have (hopefully) developed a sense of right and wrong as well as a strong vocabulary. But the world of fiction provides us with even more learning opportunities than it did when we were children. Fiction can provide the average millennial with information about life hundreds of years ago. It transports the reader back to important times in history, feeding us facts and maintaining interest while nonfiction books that provide similar information can come off as dry and boring.  

    Older fiction and classics take understanding history a step further by writing about life from the perspective of someone living through it which allows the reader to get a feel for the political, racial, economic, or social views of the era. Professional historians dig into fiction to get a sense of how people viewed their world.

    But fiction does more than provide readers with facts in a fun package, it manages to highlight current social problems and help individual readers become more comfortable with their own identities. In recent years, more and more authors have begun to include characters that span numerous racial, sexual, and religious backgrounds. This growing inclusiveness has had a tremendous impact on society while reassuring members of minority groups that their experiences are just as valid and important as the majority’s.

    You can see the impact of fiction in the news; one example being women’s rights protestors donning the costumes of “handmaids” from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. With the rise of the Trump administration, many dystopian works of fiction were brought to the forefront of opinion columns, protests, and debates as people borrowed famous author’s words to express their own fear and concern.

Image via Kate Canfield

    While nonfiction books have caused social uproar before (ex. Darwin’s Origin of the Species), fiction has proven to have such a powerful hold on society because of its ability to address and connect to human nature. Nonfiction provides readers with numbers, statistics, and facts. Fiction inspires readers to take action and have an emotional response to the story.

    It is difficult to properly quantify the benefits of fiction, which is one of the reasons not everyone sees value in it. While knowledge is crucial in order to make a positive impact on the world, learning to feel and show compassion, to see the world through others perspective, is just as important as memorizing facts.