Why We (By We I Mean I) Need to Read More Fiction

When I shared my summer reading list with my wife, she was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a single work of fiction on my list. This wasn’t unexpected; she knows that over ninety percent — and I’m being generous — of what I read is nonfiction.

There is no doubt that reading is good for you. Reading has challenged me to become a better professional and father, but so far I have resisted reading works of fiction. To me, people read fiction mostly for its entertainment value. I know this a flawed perspective. I feel like people should read nonfiction if they want to be more successful, and I’m not alone thinking this way. (In the comment section, people have called out the author of this post for promoting nonfiction vs. fiction.) These days, I don’t have much time for reading, so I want to maximize my reading time by engaging with nonfiction works.

However, I’m not completely blind to the benefits of reading fiction. Courtney Seiter did a wonderful job listing nine reasons (I don’t know why nine, but that is how everyone write these days) why we should read more fiction. Her article is well-researched and worth reading. Here are the nine ways that reading fiction helps you:

  1. Empathy: Imagining creates understanding
  2. Disengagement: Reading is most effective for stress
  3. Sleep: Regular readers sleep better
  4. Improved relationships: Books are a ‘reality simulator’
  5. Memory: Readers have less mental decline in later life
  6. Inclusivity: Stories open your mind
  7. Vocabulary: Fiction readers build more language
  8. Creativity: Fictions allows for uncertainty (where creativity thrives!)
  9. Pleasure: Reading makes you happier

So I have added another book to my summer reading list, and it’s a novel. I can’t promise that I’ll read just as much fiction as I read nonfiction, but this a start. I hope I can reap some of the benefits listed above.

Learning in focus — There are several benefits to reading; some benefits are exclusive to reading works of fiction. I should take the hint!