Here is a question for me to ramble about today: Why am I prejudiced against fiction?
Or am I? I can think of some fiction books that I enjoyed. After I
finished them, I felt as if I had eaten a wholesome meal. Some of them
stayed with me for a while. I think of such books as Stephen King’s Insomnia or The Stand, or Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, or Frank Peretti’s The Visitation.
But there is a part of me that feels that, when I am reading a
fictional book, I am wasting my time. I feel more like I have
accomplished something after reading a below-average non-fiction book,
than I do when I have read an average or slightly above-average fiction
book. Maybe part of my problem is that so many fiction books these days
are written at the sixth-grade level, so I feel as if they are a waste
of my time. Maybe I want to appear smart to others, and I fear that
they would not be impressed with my reading of certain popular fictional
works. Or maybe my problem is that I think fiction-books present a
made-up situation and made-up characters, and I prefer what is real.
(Of course, postmodernists can have a heyday questioning my assumptions,
there!) Another consideration: so many fiction books look the same.
They have similar characters, plots, etc. I say this from my limited
standpoint. Imagine what people who have read a lot of fiction books
for years might think!
For some reason, I do not have the same problem with movies or TV
shows. The reason could be that I am seeing and hearing the characters,
and that makes them seem real to me. I don’t know. The thing is,
books may actually present a more realistic picture because they look at
characters’ thoughts and feelings.
I can probably argue the opposite—-in favor of fiction over
non-fiction. There are plenty of non-fiction books that cover things
that I do not care about. They can be really dry. There is a part of
me that likes to read about the human—-human struggles, human virtues,
human vices. When I can identify with a character or person, that is
even better. There are non-fiction books that explore this territory.
There are fiction books that do this, too.