February 4, 2015 25 Comments
Last month I made an unusual New Year’s resolution for someone as widely-read as myself: It was to read less. It’s been a challenge limiting my book intake in order to focus on my writing.
So in honor of my resolution to spend less time reading, I have to be even more selective of the books I do read than I ever have been before.
I’m having to put aside my beloved history and biography books for a while to focus on fiction to help shape my own writing, but in the realm of fiction, there’s still so much to choose from.
Here’s a list of reasons fiction is good for not just writers such as myself, but for everyone.
1) Fiction can help shape or break a worldview
Oftentimes an author will write about a certain topic because they’re passionate about it. And more often than not, that topic will be explored from every angle from a singular point of view. For instance, if you read the book Unwind by Shusterman, it may cause you to realize the horrors of abortion. The Jungle by Sinclair has been known to convince many people to become vegetarians.
2) Fiction can help you understand or acknowledge certain worldviews
There are many belief-systems out there – hundreds that we’re not even aware of, and authors tend to be the leading voices for these hidden beliefs. We ought to know about the world we inhabit so that we can engage in intelligent, thoughtful conversations with those around us who subscribe to the surrounding belief-systems.
3) Fiction can spark your imagination
This one seems obvious. But what is the first thing you thought of when you saw a book with the cover of a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat in the middle of the sea? My thought, as an author myself, was, Why didn’t I think of that! Just look at what The Lord of the Rings did for the fantasy world, and what Jurassic Park did for sci-fi and mainstream movies in general.
4) Contemporary fiction can help you write to today’s audiences
“I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading,” says writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think we all do that. When I only read classic literature, I wrote just like it (or tired to, anyway), but much to my detriment (there’s not really an audience for that anymore). So with the help of popular fiction like The Hunger Games, I learned to write with a more popular and modern prose.