I Don’t Read Fiction

I don’t read fiction.

There, I said it.

The statistics show I’m not all that different than the average American.

I didn’t say that I don’t read. In fact, at any given moment I’m in the middle of at least one nonfiction book, with several more on deck. Right now I have two unread books in my Kindle library along with six unopened bits of nonfiction book reading of the dead-tree variety.

Why no fiction, Aaron? Why do you hate stories?

I don’t hate made-up stories. I enjoy my stories in other forms. I’ll watch them on Netflix. I’ll read the occasional bit of fiction online. I’ll read the press releases from PETA[1].

I’ve never read any Harry Potter books. I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings. Am I missing something beyond water cooler conversation topics? There’s value in that… but…

Diary of a Part-Time Indian…why would I spend my time on fiction and fantasy when there are lots of “real” nonfiction things that I can learn and study and use? If I get pleasure from reading a book of Scott Adams’ thoughts on the world would I gain more pleasure or have more benefits from reading about a hobbit or a wizard or such?

Maybe. I don’t know.

I mentioned this to my friend Justin earlier this week and within an hour he gifted me the Kindle version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

I have no idea what this book is about, but I trust my friend so I’m going to read it.

Will it lead to reading more fiction? Maybe. I’m totally okay with either a yes or a no answer to this question. But I’m pretty sure that my nonfiction world makes me some sort of aberration among my normal circles.

Is that so wrong?

  1. Sorry, easy target. But seriously, WTF?  ↩

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  1. says

    Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. :)

    In all seriousness, I won’t bother with the usual reasons people give for reading fiction (entertainment, art for art’s sake, etc.). Like you mentioned, if you get more enjoyment out of other forms of recreational activity, it’s hard to justify allocating a portion of the finite amount of time you have available as a hard-workin’ family man to something you don’t like as much.

    I will, though, mention here the scientific argument for it: that recent studies have shown that reading fiction can improve brain function and increase empathy (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201401/reading-fiction-improves-brain-connectivity-and-function ). If true, then maybe there’s a pragmatic argument for it… that reading fiction will make you more productive/creative at the other things in your life.

  2. says

    The world of fiction is more than Harry Hobbits and the Hungry Potter Games. And while those stories might be what’s most popular around the water cooler, I submit that maybe trying fiction that appeals a bit more to your real-life interests might be a bit more enjoyable – certainly more relaxing and potentially enriching than your average Netflix session anyway.

    Nothing against Netflix of course.

  3. says

    the last two times I read fiction, I was severely disappointed by the movie. and nobody wants to ruin a mediocre film.

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