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.