A Spoonful of Fiction Helps the Lesson Go Down

12th October 2023

A book with old style writing laying open on a wooden table, surrounded by fairy lights

My usual book-reading practice is to alternate between fact and fiction. The dose of fiction gives my brain a break and the lesson time to sink in. A palate-cleanser for the mind.

For some reason, reading fiction seems to be quite unfashionable these days, at least amongst the communities I follow. They spurn it for being frivolous. Why waste time that could be spent on improving yourself with a silly fairy-tale?

Many non-fiction books I’ve read, at least under the banner of “self improvement”, could be boiled down to a sentence or two. It appears they got a book advance based on a single nugget of wisdom that they then need to inflate to two hundred pages. Once the nugget has been imparted the remainder of the book is spent bolstering their argument - providing supporting evidence and tackling counter-examples.

Fiction also has wisdom to pass on. Granted, it’s not often the pithy actionable snippet you’ll get from a piece of non-fiction, but not all lessons can be taught the same way. Some lessons, especially the “Big” ones, are a bit fuzzy are around the edges.

If much of non-fiction can be boiled down to a sentence or two, then there is certainly fiction that can teach you just as much.