why you should be reading fiction

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It feels as if fewer and fewer adults are reading fiction anymore. I've never pressured anyone into reading fiction, never tried to push my opinions on anyone else, but over the last few years I've sat back and watched so many adults talk about how "if I'm going to read I want to learn something." It needs to add some sort of value for them to consider it worth their time. I've experienced this dilemma myself.

Sometimes when I'm having to make an important decision, or when I'm feeling a little lost, I go on this crazy nonfiction kick. I read self help, business, memoir, etc. I'm searching for any and all knowledge. But inevitably I end up in a massive reading slump. I fall off of reading anything and it takes months to get back to where I'm enjoying reading again. 

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I started exploring why this kept happening to me. I think it's because while I'm a supporter of nonfiction, it's hard to lose yourself in a nonfiction book isn't it? I don't mean in an escapist kind of way. But there's something that happens when you're reading fiction that you just don't get when you're reading a self help or business book. The analytical side of our brain turns off as we move through the story, and we almost always end up learning some sort of truth for our lives. 

I think a lot of us tend to, if we're honest, feel guilty for reading fiction. It's not so much that we don't want to read it, or that we only want to read something that will "teach us something." I think on some level we think we have to always be doing; to constantly be producing and furthering and bettering our lives. So we read business books that teach us practical things. The truth is, the most lasting impact reading has ever had on me has been through fiction.

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I learned that we all share this universal longing from The Great Gatsby. When I read How to Build a Girl I felt that familiar feeling, "Yes, finally! Someone put my feelings into words." I learned to believe in magic and infinite hope by reading Harry Potter. My Name is Asher Lev helped me muddle through my beliefs on creativity and art in religion. And I have a million more examples. 

Fiction made me feel known and seen and understood more than any human ever had. And in turn I learned how to be a better human. Fiction teaches you empathy. And while you're distracted reading the story, it teaches you the truth. The truth that we are all here together, making our way through this mess as best we can. So I encourage you, if you haven't read fiction in a while, pick one up this summer. I think you'll be surprised the truths you'll learn.