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Is Reading Fiction Good For You?

In a book club discussion, not too long ago, someone said, “I don’t read fiction. It’s just a waste of time.” The remark stung me a bit because I read a lot of fiction. But as is usually my wont I did not say anything at the time because, maybe, the person was right. Maybe reading fiction was a waste of time.

I had, however, forgotten all about the discussion and was merrily going on with my fiction reading routine, until something brought the subject back to my attention. Not surprisingly, I turned to the Internet for answers and found that reading fiction, especially literary fiction, made you a better person indeed. There is even a published study and a review that talk about how reading fiction is good for you, even more than reading non-fiction.

My faith in fiction being restored, I then decided to look into my own experiences to figure out how reading has helped me.

Understanding Others

Good fiction is not just about stories. Good fiction introduces us to the emotions and thought processes of individuals, and tells us why they act the way they do. Different authors have lived through different times and circumstances and their heroes and villains are a reflection of these times and circumstances. A sensitive reader can therefore expose herself to a wide variety of situations while sitting in her reading chair all the while. The resultant development of empathy in the reader can go a long way in understanding the motives behind the actions of people around her, and prevent many a misunderstanding.

Reading good fiction can, therefore, help you understand others better.

Nice people don’t finish last

Contrary to the popular perception that nice people finish last, nice people in fiction rarely finish last. In the end, the hero prevails. Though, we should not ideally need external motivation to do the right thing, yet it is only human to be tempted to take short cuts in life, especially when we see people around us doing it all the time. Fiction tells us that heroes are bound to choose the right path – however difficult that may be – and eventually emerge victorious Since, we all want to believe that we are the heroes in the stories of our life, fiction helps us in avoiding temptation and staying on the right track.

Reading good fiction can, therefore, help you stay nice.

Decision making

Many times in fiction, we find characters facing the same dilemmas that we are facing in our own lives. How the character resolves his dilemma can help us in resolving ours, especially at times when we can’t turn to anyone around us for help. Though fiction is admittedly a poor substitute for real advice, but it is a straw that you can definitely clutch at.

Reading good fiction can, therefore, help you avoid making bad decisions.

Stress buster

We all, I am sure, agree about one thing: it is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of life. There are time sucking traps at every corner. Studies, Work, Family, Friends, Partner(s), Health, etc. … the list can go on. It can be stressful to deal with all these issues on a continuous basis. Reading provides a welcome break where you can forget about your problems for a while, and spend some time with your favourite character, or author.

Reading good fiction can, therefore, help bring a smile on your face.

These are just some of the ways that reading fiction has helped me. I am sure reading fiction, especially the literary kind, has helped you in some other ways too. Be a sport, and share them in the comments section below, will you?

(Picture Credit : Pexels from Pixabay)

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