There is a growing culture of nonfiction elitists. A class of people that thrive on no sleep, long hours of work, staying plugged in all the time. They suck down nonfiction books like hot dogs at an eating contest. They feel like they are learning and improving their business skills and their know-how skills at a lightning rate. They have absolutely no time for fiction. They have no time for “stories.” “Those fluffy books are not going to get me anywhere,” they bark with a scowel. They believe fiction will not inform them. It will not bump them up to the next level in their careers or their relationships or their personal goals. And you know what? I think that is a complete asinine garbage outlook on reading.
People have turned books into a version of the Matrix upload program, where they just plug this book into their brain and instant upgrade! A) That’s not how it works. B) I doubt most people remember one one-hundredth of the information in those books. C) We remember stories not information. Even good nonfiction books include plenty of stories.
What people are missing when they skip good fiction, good literature, are the deep stories that allow you to live through someone else’s eyes. Stories that soak you in human emotion and psychology. That place you in the midst of other’s issues and bring you a world of possibilities that cannot be expressed in any other way. The things you can learn from good fiction become a part of your spirit. You cannot shake a good story. They shape your life in ways that no nonfiction book could ever hope to accomplish.
I’m not trying to be a hater here. I love nonfiction books. They are great for generating new ideas, learning about the way the world works and figuring out how to get things done. They have their place in our lives. But please, I implore you to take a chance on fiction. Take a chance on good literature, the classics. Not every book will be for you, but if you keep at it you will discover some gems. Great fiction will change you. It will inform the way you live.
Don’t become another nonfiction-consuming robot hell-bent on gathering and collating information for information’s sake. Take a deep breath and instead of going for quantity go for quality. Go for depth. Go for fiction!
Here are some starting places for you nonfiction junkies:
The Alchemist by Paulo Choelho
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Candide by Voltaire
Books by Neil Gaiman
Books by Haruki Murakami
Books by Philip K. Dick
Books by Kurt Vonnegut
William Shakespeare Really! Pick a play. Any play!
View Tim Ferriss’ blog post The Top 10 Fiction Books for Non-Fiction Addicts
PS: Trying to fall asleep at night but the ideas keep buzzing around. Do a little journalling and then read some fiction (not nonfiction) until your eyes begin to droop.