Why I’ve Started To Read Fiction Again

October 8, 2012 — 35 Comments
Why I’ve Started To Read Fiction Again | Joseph Lalonde

When I began on my self-improvement journey I decided I would follow the advice of other leaders.

If they said to stop watching TV, I began to reduce my TV intake to the point of it being non-existent. I also heard that you should listen to motivational speakers and conference talks instead of music. Done and done. Read as much non-fiction as you can. Learn from the best. Out with the fiction books and in with non-fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with this. You need to be careful what you fuel your mind with.

But it can become an addiction.

Hunger Games and Catching Fire books

Following this advice was great. For awhile…

And then my desire for something different rose up. I wanted to read a grand story. One with adventure. One with action. One with suspense.

That’s when and why I decided to pick up The Hunger Games trilogy. That and it was dirt cheap.

Reading through The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay was easy.

The adventures of Katniss and Peta drew me in.

I could envision their world. Feel their pain. Rejoice in their victories.

My memories where drawn to my high school years when I would devour the stories from Star Wars or Sherlock Holmes or some other fantasy series.

It was a whole world I had forgotten about. And missed.

So why am I deciding to read fiction again?

1. Your imagination gets engaged: Fiction books create these grand worlds where anything can happen. It’s up to your mind to process the stories. To create the landscapes. The vehicles. The people.

As you read through the books, your mind is engaged and active. You’re able to engage your imagination and see new worlds.

2. You’re able to see how a good story is told: Fiction writers have to be creative and tell a great story. The intricate details, the flow of the narrative, and the pacing. All are integral to telling a great story.

When you begin to read fiction, you’re able to examine how an author weaves his or her craft. You’re given blueprints to telling great stories in your non-fiction writing.

3. Great stories contain great lessons: Star Wars showed us the importance of relying on your friends. The Hunger Games showed us the importance of standing up for what is right. The Chronicles of Narnia showed us God’s love in a new light.

Great literature often teaches us great lessons. We shouldn’t shelve it just because it’s not non-fiction. We must choose wisely, enjoy the works of great authors, and see what lessons we can pick from the book.

My reading strategy is to read two to three non-fiction book and then one fiction book. This keeps me balanced and consuming new information along with giving my imagination a run for it’s money.

If you’re getting bored reading only non-fiction, I suggest you give fiction books another chance. You may be surprised at what you learn from a good book.

Question: What lessons have you learned from a fiction book? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    I have to remember to stop and read fiction once in a while. I find it can be powerful, and keeping your imagination fed is important for growth.

    Fiction can actually be a powerful teaching tool. It allows authors to explore issues in more depth than non-fiction when done right. I have a book on my reading list that was recommended to me in a class I took a while back. The professor wrote it as fiction to explain his “theory of constraints”. The classmate who recommeded it said it was very good.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Eric, thanks for sharing your insights into this. Our imaginations need to be stretched and tested so it doesn’t grow stagnant. New ideas, new places, and new situations in fiction books can help build the muscle.

      That book sounds like it could be interesting. Mind sharing the title?

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    I limit my fiction but I do enjoy losing myself in a great story. I think I’ve mentioned to you before I’m reading Wrath and Righteousness by Christ  Stewart.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Yeah, I think you did mention it before. Wrath and Righteousness is the re-release of an older novel, correct?

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

        Yes, pretty good stuff.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    The Chronicles of Narnia taught me about redemption.  The Lord of the Rings taught me about the importance of battling evil.  Harry Potter was again about the importance of truth and fighting for what is good.  I haven’t read the Hunger Games yet.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Jon, glad you’ve been able to get something out of fiction. Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings have some big lessons in them if we want to learn. 

      Hunger Games drew me in because I can see our society heading in that direction in our thirst for power and entertainment. Check it out, you might enjoy it.

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        I’ll have to put Hunger Games on my list.  My daughter read it already.  I saw the movie, and I’m hoping the book is better.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          I really enjoyed the books, haven’t seen the movie yet. They were easy reading and really sucked me in. Guessing it was sub-par?

          • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

            The movie wasn’t awful, but it just conflicted with my mind so much with where I was at when I watched it.  I saw the movie on the plane ride back from Guatemala this summer.  It just didn’t match up with everything that I was focusing on at the time.

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    When it comes to books, both writing and reading, my first love was fiction. I love a good story for the reasons you have articulated above. When it comes to writing fiction – i just found my mind unencumbered – no theories to prove, no ‘laws’ to work in e.t.c. It was my world and i could create it and weave however i wanted.

    I hear you about being choosy – that was the reason I left the fiction world. I wasn’t very wise in my choices earlier just consumed lots of stuff that wasn’t healthy. Right now i read alot of biographies in place of fiction.. But i know it’s a matter of time. There’s good fiction books out there.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      There is a lot of good fiction out there Ngina. It’s all about finding it and enjoying what you’re reading. Some other good fiction authors I’ve found are Ted Dekker, Randy Alcorn, and Robert Liparulo. Let me know if you have any great authors on your list.

      • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

        Are they christian authors? (due to my inhealthy fiction past, I now keep my mind on the straight-and-narrow road..lol)
        I don’t have specicic fiction authors in mind..i’ve just heard that there are. haven’t made a big point of looking. May start out with your list.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Yup, those three are Christian authors. Ted Dekker is like a Christian Stephen King. Randy Alcorn does a lot of allegory, and Robert Liparulo is suspense/thriller (if I remember right).

          • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

             Great! I’ve added them to my reading list and will check them out once fiction season swings by :) Thanks for nudge and insights.

            • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

              You’re welcome. if you check them out, let me know what you think. For Ted Dekker, I’d recommend his Circle Trilogy. Excellent stuff.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    I personally don’t read fiction books. It’s great your able to benefit from them. 

    • http://www.michaelgholmes.com/ Mike Holmes

      I’m with you Dan…the only thing is I know i need to read to read them. Joe, does movies count lol?

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Haha, it could Mike. If you enjoy it and you’re able to get something out of it, go for it!

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

         I think the movie blue Like Jazz would at least count for something, I have not seen it yet.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thanks Dan. I know it’s not for everyone. But it’s a love I recently rediscovered. Now it’s going to be balancing a love of fiction with the need to read great non-fiction.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    I can’t actually read fiction but I LOVE fiction audio books. I’m currently listening to Survivers by James Wesley, Rawles who is actually a born again Christian, very moving story.

    I like the variety and as a writer it opens my mind up to so much more then my comfort level.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s awesome Kimanzi. Fiction audio books are fun because the reader of the story often gets into character and voices each one in a different voice. If they add in sound effects, it’s all the more engaging.

  • jeff

    I don’t know how I got sucked into reading non-fiction, either.  I learned from reading the 6th book of the Harry Potter series that the best adventures are the ones done with people, no matter how many interpersonal conflicts there may be.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s a great takeaway from the Harry Potter books. Most of the stories in that series revolved around the community and how they were able to help each other out, right?

      • jeff

        Right.  Their dangers expose their need for complementary help.  But they also clearly did not enjoy their joys without each other.  They were permanently connected to each other.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    As a writer, I write everything from song to poem to essay, but I’ve decided to focus on fiction.  Fiction can entertain, tell stories, and be filled with great life lessons and morals.  As a kid, I was the victim of a cult.  So I wrote a fictionalized version of my story that an average reader could understand rather than a historical non-fiction that would only be of interest to a small readership.  “A Train Called Forgiveness” looks at concepts such as forgiveness, faith, and non judgment through a journey of both past and present.  My second book “At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy” is written on a fictional premise that the former cult leader faked his death and started a second cult.  That book will be released early next year.  “A Train Called Forgiveness” is available at Amazon now.  

    I also read a variety of writing.  Reading good fiction has taught me how to weave a good story.  One of my favorite new writers is Garth Stein who wrote “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”  He writes a great story that feels like it could have actually happened in real life.  

    To learn more about my work check out my website http://www.danerickson.net 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s the wonderful thing about fiction, huh? Makes me wonder if that’s why Jesus told so many fables. To draw the listener in and then give it to them.

      Thanks for sharing a bit about your past. That had to have affected the way you view life and others. I’m sure that your book will help those that have experienced similar life experiences. It’s peaked my interest…

  • http://www.brandongerard.net/ Brandon Gerard

    Joe I think reading both fiction and non-fiction is very valuable.  I personally think it helps from becoming myopic and fixed in a certain pattern of actions and thoughts.  I also think you need to be selective on what you read both fiction and non-fiction.  A few of the best books I have ever read are works of Fiction.  Atlas Shrugged, 1984, Brave New World, Life’s Golden Ticket,   Lord of the Rings, Song of Fire and Ice,and the list continues. I just love to read.  Plus one huge  benefit of reading fiction – creativity.  It opens up your mind to moving beyond whats possible.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’m with you on the creativity thing Brandon. Seeing new ideas and situations presented in a fictional setting gets the gears going.

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