Many people don’t read fiction because at some point they came to believe that fiction is all about escapism and is just a waste of valuable time that could be spent on something more productive. But it isn’t true. In fact, reading fiction is perhaps one of the best ways to learn how to live our lives better and more productively.
Reading Fiction Strengthens Problem-Solving Skills
Spoiler Alert: When Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark (in The Hunger Games) are the only two tributes left at the end of The Hunger Games, and Katniss is faced with the prospect of having to kill someone she cares about to survive, your brain as a reader is already looking ahead, imagining scenarios of how she and Peeta could both get out of the arena alive.
It’s the way your brain works. Reading fiction is an immersive experience. Scientific studies tell us that our brains react the same way when we read a fictional experience as they would if we were going through that experience ourselves.
Our brains are always looking ahead, trying to fill in gaps in knowledge with possibilities because we don’t like being left in the unknown. That’s why someone can pick up a novel, start reading, and finish it several hours later. They simply had to know what happens.
This is important for our problem-solving skills. Characters in a story are perpetually presented with problems and the whole story is about them exploring and discovering solutions to their problems.
When we read a story, our brain takes a journey with the character, which means we’re exercising our problem-solving skills. And exercise only makes them stronger.
In real life, relationships, and in business, problem-solving is an invaluable skill.
Reading Fiction Strengthens Our Ability to Make Connections
An extension of problem-solving is the way our brains look ahead and make connections. Creativity is all about looking at pieces of information and making connections to come up with something new.