Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why story-telling matters

I came across this excerpt while reading a longer article and I think it's one of the most eloquently expressed explanations of why reading fiction is important. Sure, I know a lot of people don't like fiction because it's not history, it's not real, and they won't learn any new facts. But, as it turns out, that's the point:

Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.

These wise words come from a fiction author, of course, Ann Pratchett, writing in the NYT. But they are, in my opinion, wise words indeed.


  1. I agree completely. But this comes from someone who reads fiction almost exclusively.

  2. I could not agree more! Reading fiction allows me to decide what the character look like and sound like. It makes me get involved in the book.

    On the other hand, my mother, suffering from dementia, tells me all the time how she only reads 'real' books! She is obsessed with the Royal Family and has a zillion books about them. If it is a biography, she'll buy it which is why she has porn star memoirs and the biographies of folks no one ever heard of and her many books of maps!

    Pratchett's words make me think that the 'real' stuff is my mother's way of covering her inability to use much imagination when reading. In 'real' stuff, the work is done for you. Going over to read the rest of her article now.


  3. Josh: I do, too, I love the escapism. My wife is more of a NF person, so the house is full of both kinds. Noting wrong with that.

    Edith Ann: I bet the porn star is more interesting than the Royal Family...

  4. It's almost impossible to be a good trial attorney if you can't tell a good story. And it's hard to tell a good story if you don't know what one looks like.


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