F is for the Fiction

Having recently posted about Common Core standards and its special emphasis on nonfiction, I thought it was time to give fiction some well deserved love.

Have you ever asked someone about his reading habits and heard somewhere in his response that this person never reads fiction? Whenever I hear that I have to fight the urge to swaddle that person in a blanket, push a warm beverage into his hands and say, “It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this tragedy together.”

Because depriving one’s self of the joy of reading fiction IS a tragedy! I’m baffled by how many adults brush off the activity as inferior to a strict diet of news headlines and sports biographies.

Fiction MATTERS, people! But you don’t have to take my bossy word for it. I went looking for what others had to say on the subject, and here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“Fiction is the lie that tells the truth…We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading.” – Neil Gaiman, author, as quoted by The Guardian while giving a lecture for The Reading Agency.

“Narrative fiction isn’t a set of observations that are flawed by lack of reliability and validity. It’s a simulation. Narrative was the very first kind of simulation, one that runs not on computers but on minds. It’s a kind of simulation that enables us to enter social contexts that otherwise we would never know.” – Keith Oatley, Ph.D., in the Psychology Today article, The Psychology of Fiction

“Like any art form, good fiction has a unique ability to display beauty. The right combination of words, a powerful metaphor, a well-described scene, each of these uses the written word to display beauty in ways that no other art form can. And, although non-fiction has the same ability to manifest beauty through the written word, there’s something in the beauty of narrative that’s impossible to capture in any other medium.” Marc Cortez, Theology professor at Wheaton College, on his blog article, 6 Reasons You Should “Waste” Your Time Reading Fiction.

“Everybody knows how to tell when bankers or politicians are lying; yes, it’s when their lips are moving. Given a choice between the insincere ramblings of power, or the honest fantasies of the fundamentally decent fiction author, we know where most of us would rather be.” – Harlan Wolff, author, in his article, Why is Fiction Important?

Rounding out the list, I’ll throw in one from my favorite author and satirist, Mark Twain: “The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.”


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