As a writer who started out quite early at an age of thirteen, reading anything and everything I lay my eyes upon was inevitably the raw material to the construction of imaginary worlds. I started out reading books with abridged children’s classics and children’s magazines, which moved on to Enid Blyton’s child-detective series from the school library, which naturally caught up to Nancy Drew and Hardy boys in the mid-teens. And not to mention the Harry Potter series, for which I had to often book and wait from those who had a copy or from the library because it was hardly left alone there.
Then came the romances and women’s fiction novels which I still dig aside Psychological thrillers. When I could no more borrow books after leaving high school, I traded used books for used books, rinse and repeat until my collection thinned. Later, I set out to read books through the java mobile phone by finding jar format e-books. In short, I made sure I read 1-3 books a week.
Years later, I would grow up, earn my own money and hoard books. In the flurry of life, reading fell behind despite stocking my physical and digital shelves with new books every month as I got into writing more and tried to juggle a lot of things under the tag called ‘Life’.
Recently, I started reading again. And it was nothing less than heavenly, like redeeming long lost lives, getting transported to another world without needing tickets and time-travelling. I realized how much I had missed reading. Now I have set up my tablet with long-time wish-lists of books and dusted my bookshelves, too.
But, it is appalling how many people have not yet bothered to find the pleasure of reading. Some, like me, have fallen back on it. Some are demotivated and stilled. Some find it hard to fit in to their hectic life. Each of you will have different reasons to not read a novel. Finding time is just a matter of priority and we all know the role of the internet and smartphones in ‘not having enough time.’
That said, I thought, maybe I should come up with a few reasons for you to try reading fiction books. It is not a letting down of non-fiction books or a comparison against other genres, because, they would do all of this as well, although differently. But as I am a fan of fiction rather than non-fiction, and because it has helped me in all these way, here we go!
- Fiction lets you live lives you may never live, see places you may never visit and know the myriad colours of life, different cultures and lifestyles without feeling like a tourist guide.
- Fiction can give glimpses of what is not yet in existence and of brilliant possibilities as in Science Fiction and lets you detach from the drilling of everyday life and reality as Fantasy genre allows.
- Fiction reading is a mental treadmill. It gives a workout for your brain and memory. When you read a novel, you are going to have to train your brain to remember details from the very first chapter as you go. And that is precisely what exercises the memory and strengthens it. I read three novels a week and still scored well at school. It really helped to grasp words and remember them without effort because of the synapses strengthened in my head for words.
- Fiction gives you the opportunity to delve into the existential questions and deeper realms of the human mind, character, behaviour and its processes. It allows you to take a look at other people’s thinking, be in another’s shoes and develop empathy and better understanding of humanity. Fiction could also broaden your perspectives and perceptions of the world you live in, to see into the little things that you would otherwise overlook. Further, it gives a welcome break from clichéd thinking and helps you to be innovative and imaginative.
- Fiction can be the right pick-me-up when you are depressed or feeling uninspired. Inspirational or faith-centred fiction could show some light at the end of the tunnel. Tragedies can result in catharsis. Romances could better your relationships. Women’s fiction can be especially motivating to women. Dramas could prep you to handle conflicts. The possibilities are endless. I swear by fiction books over self-help books in this particular matter.
- Fiction reading refines your language and if you are a storyteller, it is indispensable to grow in it. Reading fiction exposes you to different techniques of storytelling, polishes your language and improves your writing. It boosts your imagination in every which way, enabling you to perfect your craft. If you are not a writer, it can still get you to have a good command over the language in practice and put all you know into writing.
Fiction reading is an excellent way to spend leisure time fruitfully and even turns out to be a great getaway in short bursts during the course of the day. I remember how I used to pull out my ongoing read when the hour was up and the bell rang at school, and how I raced hungrily through pages or passages between the few minutes when one teacher left and the other entered the classroom.
With the availability of books in various formats and within easy reach, you just need to find if any of the above reasons feel like a good one for yourself to start reading fiction today. Are you game?