I love to read. I go through phases with my reading though. I’m weird.
When I was growing up my grandmother got me into books about cats solving mysteries. Obviously, it was fiction (although I’ve met some pretty amazing cats in my lifetime). Fiction has such a valuable place in the literature, especially with kids and young adults. Without reading, how can they spark their imaginations? Well, the answer to that now is video games. Don’t get me wrong, I love Call of Duty just as much as the next guy, but I balance out the mind-numbing experience with my books.
Reading doesn’t only spark imaginations, its makes kids smarter. We all know that. Kids that read perform better in school. Their writing and vocabulary improves and, I would argue, they are happier. I know I was, and I know that performed better in all subject areas simply because I read (screw math).
So, I read fiction all the way through high school, but in college, I stopped. Not reading, but reading fiction. I had little time for any reading besides my college texts, which oddly enough, I mostly enjoyed. My passion is international affairs, so I made sure my schedule was full of classes that most Americans would balk at. Towards the end of my graduate studies, I decided to pick up some biographies of American historical figures. I got hooked on non-fiction. There was a time that I even decided that I was through reading fiction. I knew fiction was a waste of time.
It took me years to pick up a fiction novel again, and I did it with the newest Star Wars series of books. Once again, I was hooked. I again fell in love with letting go. I could pick up a book and forget everything else that was going on. Thank goodness I did, because I needed it. I became a cranky person when someone jolted me out of my book worlds.
Now I’m finishing my first fiction book, so clearly my view of fiction has changed. I think fiction and non-fiction are both are vital to having a well rounded reading experience. They offer different things and I would strongly argue that both are necessary for someone to become a good author (I don’t claim to be one, by the way).
Perhaps the most important thing is to keep reading. It is so easy to get distracted and not pick up a book. How often do you think – I’m just too tired tonight, so I’ll make sure I read tomorrow? Then the next day, the same thing. Getting out of the habit is much easier than getting back into it (opposite of most habits).
So, do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Do you think one or both are important for writers?
Do you think authors can be successful without being avid readers themselves?