Many people—even those with a voracious reading habit—make a certain mistake: They hardly, if ever, read fiction, maybe even brag about it! They’re too busy. This was certainly me, and I used the excuse, “I don’t have time for it.”
But fiction, like all wonderful art, is filled with beautiful bits of insight about the human condition. It can change your life and teach you just as much as any non-fiction book. Actually, it may even teach you more! It can shine a light on universal truths that non-fiction, bounded by the facts and figures of its specific world, often cannot.
Since the shutdown in March, I decided that I could no longer use the excuse of “I don’t have time for it.” I began listening to fiction on audible. Surprisingly, it has provided me distance, comfort, and even guidance. I think we use stories, in part, as an escape of our current reality. Although I know it is not a permanent escape, it is a means to be engrossed in a different reality, and moments of peace or flashes of insight. We can then return to our current fight, wiser and calmer.
This week, I challenge you to choose a piece of fiction and commit to reading it over the next few weeks. Pick something that will remove you from the current moment. The point is to get some level of distance from the current day and its concerns of social distancing and mandatory mask laws, or the upcoming election. Instead of dwelling on the anxiety and fear that we may be feeling right now, draw inspiration from a fictional story, one where the characters’ motivations, flaws and virtues all stand apart from what we see on our news feeds, cable TV, or maybe everyday interactions. Read some fiction.