Reading books has become a huge part of our society. The main reason behind this is that reading, now more than ever, is endorsed by the most successful people in various fields; as one of the pillar activities that contributes to their success.
With this in mind, reading non-fiction, mostly self-help is popular than ever. But you may wonder, how about non-fiction? Is it overrated? This post will center on this theme because this is a topic I’ve come across among many of my peers.
So let’s get into understanding non-fiction and its actual use or value.
With that said lets address the elephant in the room and get the main question out of the way.
So, is reading fiction overrated?
Reading fiction is not overrated because it stimulates the mind in a very unique way. Reading fiction allows your mind to exercise its imaginative powers and analytical faculties while gaining a deeper understanding of human nature. These are all important aspects that positively impact our lives in more ways than one.
In my opinion reading fiction is underrated because many think that you can only learn from non-fiction books, which is not true.
Of course my brief explanation is only the tip of the ice burg and its worth digging deep into the topic.
Why reading fiction is not overrated and why it’s important
Let’s get into some of the reasons why we can’t say reading fiction is over-rated.
While most people think reading is only effective or” worth it” when its non-fiction-serious-stuff, the truth is that, reading of any sort is important and beneficial. People are just conditioned to think of reading in a certain way. However, any type of reading stimulates and exercises the mind.
Reading fiction is just as intellectually stimulating as reading non-fiction so it’s rather unfair to say reading fiction is overrated. What is more important is comprehension above all else.
One of the reasons why we differ in the way we interpret the world in front of us is perception. We all have our way of looking at the world and one thing that influences this is the information we consume.
Perception is malleable and human beings can be conditioned to see things a certain way. Therefore any sort of information that we consume shapes us in some way.
Reading fiction exposes us to a lot different scenarios, scenes, events etc. and this sharpens our mind because the author of the book lets us into their mind. By reading and following their thought process our minds automatically begin to make sense of everything, picking out logic, realizations, common sense and new knowledge. This in turn shapes and makes our perspective a little different.
This leads me to my next point.
Empathy is an important part of being a human being and for the most part, empathy makes you more human. There are different levels of empathy because people’s experiences differ from one person to the next. The more we experience, the more we understand about life and the more we discover deeper degrees of empathy.
Reading non-fiction books of any sort deepens our understanding of people’s behavior, motivations, moral compass etc. This makes us develop more empathy toward other people.
Exposure to varying plots and characters stretches our imagination whilst staying active and conscious enough to get the overall story.
Reading fiction vs. watching TV
There are many debates as to whether reading fiction isn’t just the same as watching TV. This is not true, with reading fiction you have to interpret everything on your own. You have to string the sentences together understand their meanings while having a clear mental picture of the setting, plot and characters.
With TV there’s not a lot of imagination that you have to do everything is basically presented to you. All information is spoon-fed to you so you don’t have to do a lot of thinking.
With that said, there’s a time for watching TV and there’s a time for reading fiction. However, if you’re looking intellectual stimulation you might want to go for a good fiction novel rather than watching Tv. But even this is subjective.
Fiction and happiness
It’s only natural that I discuss whether reading fiction actually provides happiness or not.
Let me say this, reading of any kind has been shown to put the mind at ease in a meditative-like state. This for most people is the number one reason why they read books.
For others, reading fiction novels provides a thrill and happiness because of the writing and the story itself. Because of this, reading fiction novels is sometimes feared to be addictive if it is used as a crutch to escape reality.
I have a detailed article about whether or not you could become addicted to reading books here. It goes into all the broad strokes that you need to know about reading books in general and not just fiction.
Fiction and depression
Reading fiction novels has been known to be helpful for people dealing with depression. People whose emotions and mental state is in a depressive state tend to connect with themselves better as they read fiction because it allows them to use their imagination and be empathic towards the characters.
People in this state usually find it easy to identify with a specific character and this allows them to connect with and confront their emotions. This confrontation makes reading the best escape as well as the best way to deal with issues.
Fiction and anxiety
Anxiety is another condition suffered by many people.
Reading books of any kind can be beneficial for people suffering from anxiety. Reading requires concentration and focus which are two things that are hard to achieve when you’re suffering from anxiety. Therefore when you do your best to read a book, your anxiety fades.
Reading fiction books can be quite good and easy to read because a person with anxiety can easily get hooked into the story. This can allow the person to detach and step away from their anxious thought pattern.