Although books are to be found everywhere, it’s still only a fairly small number of people in the world who actually read on a regular basis.
What’s more, judging by the kinds of books that are most frequently hitting the bestseller lists, most people who do take the time to read are probably more inclined to read non-fiction books on topics ranging from celebrity drama to politics and self-help.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with reading non-fiction books. But if you never take the time to read fiction, as well, you are definitely missing out.
Here are just a few reasons to read more fiction this year.
Because some of the deepest truths and insights are expressed through stories and symbolism
When we learn deep lessons from life and share them, we almost never express them (or “receive” them) in the form of rationalistic arguments and formulae.
What actually happens, is that we convey the most meaningful lessons of our lives through story and narrative, and we only tend to remember the lessons we’ve learned if we can really remember the stories that we have associated with them.
The deepest and truest insights are expressed through symbolism and narrative – and there’s no reason to think that timeless works of fiction, that have captivated the hearts and minds of people throughout the ages, don’t have something deep to teach.
When you read a book like War and Peace or even The Hobbit, you are, in one sense, just entertaining yourself. In another sense, though, there’s probably quite a lot there that you should be engaging with.
Because good fiction can really give you a different viewpoint in life
As we all know, life is rough and messy, and there are frequently complicating factors that throw us off track. If you’ve been dealing with some major drama recently that have required you to contact the family lawyer, for example, the odds are pretty good that you are going to be so distracted that little else get through to you.
Even when there’s no melodramatic event unfolding, though, life is always complex and we are only ever seeing it from certain limited angles.
To a large extent, reading fiction allows you to experience life from a different viewpoint – to see the world how other people may see it, or to imagine yourself living out different lives.
Because the opportunity to spend a bit of time focusing in silence is a valuable thing
The writer Nicholas Carr laid out a pretty good argument in his book, “The Shallows,” that the way we fill our time with constant high-tech distraction these days, can cause our attention spans to whither, and can generate stress and distraction, among other things.
When you are reading, you are granting yourself the opportunity to spend a bit of time focusing on something deeply, and in silence.
This can help you to redirect your attention – and to become better at paying attention, in and of itself. It can help to alleviate stress, and it can also put you in a situation where you are able to gain a bit more balance and insight in general.