Why I Read Fiction

As someone who highly values learning, growing and productivity, fiction can feel like a dirty word.

But I’ve realized significant benefits from digging into fiction books over the last year, specifically Christian fiction (with a handful of dystopian novels thrown in).

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Why Fiction Rocks

1. Relaxing

Reading fiction is engaging in passive learning. Instead of highlighting, dog earing and taking notes in fiction books, I feel the freedom to just read and let the words wash over me. After reading a string of non-fiction books, no matter how good they are, it’s nice to read a book without a pen in hand.

2. Expanding vocabulary

I can’t remember the last time I read a book and didn’t have to turn to a dictionary to find the meaning of a word. I love it when an author uses such a precise word for a particular situation. We’re truly blessed in the English langauge to have so many specific words for certain scenarios. I use Terminology by Agile Tortoise (also the makers of Drafts for iOS) for looking up words and synonyms.

3. Looking for deeper meaning

What I love about Christian fiction is finding pieces of the gospel wrapped in the stories. It’s as if there’s a whole other layer waiting to be explored in every well-written fiction book with new ideas to discover. 

4. Thinking about my story

When I see people sacrificing themselves for those they love, I’m inspired. When I see people standing against injustice and living out their faith in tough situations, I’m challenged. I’m forced to consider the story I’m creating in my own life–how I live and love–when I’m engrossed in a powerful story.

5. Identifying world views

Every (good) fiction author has some sort of agenda–reader beware! But it’s interesting to see the worldviews authors integrate into their stories through commentary on characters actions, reactions to intense situations, and the major and minor themes throughout books. My favorite game to play is guessing if a popular author is a Christian (I see you, Veronica Roth.)

6. Better than TV

Most people relax by watching TV. I definitely indulge in a more than respectable amount of TV watching, but I can almost feel the edges of my brain softening in the blue glow of the LCD. It’s easier for me to fall asleep after reading than watching TV or reading tweets, and I know it’s better for my brain.

My Favorite Fiction Serials

What would a post about the sweetness of fiction be without a few recommendations? The following are all trilogies, save Narnia, so you’ll have plenty of time to get lost in these worlds.

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

Clive tells stories in 150 pages that it takes less pithy authors twice the word count to write. His imagery is rich. You’ll be checking all your wardrobes for entries into Narnia after this series.

The Mark of the Lion – Francine Rivers

Talk about historical accuracy. Wowzers. Francine has won awards for the realism in her books, and this series is captivating, and will make you want to read the Bible. Hadassah’s story of faith in the midst of persecution in Rome is inspiring in every sense.

The Ashtown Burials – N.D. Wilson

N.D. Wilson is one of my new favorite authors. This current trilogy (my bet is it’ll be expanded well beyond that) is entertaining and captivating. The way he weaves his faith throughout the books is akin to Lewis. Dive into the story of Cyrus and Antigone Smith as their exposed to a whole new world of exploration and battling a host of transmortals and evil scientists.

The Hunger Games – Susan Collins

I’m a sucker for dystopian meltdowns. Humanity’s fallen condition rings loudly throughout the series where kids are forced to battle other kids to the death.

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Lots of Christian undertones throughout this series that is just as good as the Hunger Games. Tris’s struggle with identity, family vs. faction and her bravery in the midst of fear in a world that says you are most defined by a single trait is fascinating. Sacrifice, purpose of life, reconciliation, battling ethnocentrism–a whole lot of messages cloaked in teen fiction.

Question: Do you read fiction? Why? What are your favorite fiction books?

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Jordan Shirkman

Exploring the intersection of theology, technology and methodology as a disciple of Jesus and lover of learning.

2 thoughts on “Why I Read Fiction

  1. I recently found the same truth- reading fiction is not a total waste of time! Like you, I had believed that only non-fiction leadership or christian books were worth reading. I seriously hadn’t read a fiction book in probably 10 years.

    But a few months ago my wife imposed a new “no electronics after 9pm” law and my daughters have been begging me to read Harry Potter for years so I very reluctantly starting reading HP. And I’ve loved it.

    So much more relaxing than checking twitter for an hour.

    Divergent and Hunger Games are next on my list (from aforementioned daughters/wife’s heavy prodding).

    1. Wow! That’s pretty crazy it had been so long for you, Tim.

      I really like the no electronics after 9pm. I was a HUGE HP fan. I haven’t read them in a while, but it’s an easy series to get hooked on.

      I love Twitter, but it’s far from relaxing. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on Divergent and Hunger Games. They are both pretty intense.

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