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Benefits of Reading Fiction

Benefits of Reading Fiction

According to Wikipedia, “Fiction” is any creative work, chiefly any narrative work, portraying people, events, or places in imaginary ways that are not strictly based on history or fact. More broadly, fiction has come to encompass imaginary narratives expressed in any medium, including not just writings, but also live theatrical performances, films, television programs, radio dramas, comics, role-playing games, and video games. But usually, by fiction, we mean novels, novellas and short stories.

A fictional work is created within the imagination of its author. The web dictionary defines “Imagination” as 'The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects, which aren't present to the senses.’ I put it this way, imagination is the power to create a mental image of something that may not exist. The author imagines the story and creates the characters, the plot or storyline, the dialogue, and sometimes even the setting. A work of fiction may be purely imaginary or inspired by a real event. Fiction does not have the pretension of telling a true story. Instead, it gives us experiences that we may never have in real life, introduces us to the types of people we may never otherwise meet, and takes us to places we may never visit in any other way. 

Fiction can inspire, intrigue, frighten and lead us to fresh ideas. It can help us to see ourselves and our world from a new and interesting point of view. More than that, it's often simply fun! We understand that children love to hear stories. They like animal histories, fairy tales and comics the most. When they hear stories, their powers of imagination grow. We can return to our early days and find our natural taste in fiction. Imagination creates fiction and reading fiction augments imagination. By telling fictional stories to children, are we preparing them for an imaginary world? No, we're getting them ready to make the world a better place. Our progress depends on our imagination. All inventions and creations are first created in our minds as imagination. Nothing is possible without imagination.

Furthermore, reading fiction has proven to give the following benefits to readers.

1. Empathy: Imagination creates understanding. When one reads fiction, one encounters the various characters and one reads their ideas. We can see things from a different point of view. This expands our perspectives and improves our understanding.

2. Reading is a nice stress reliever. Our minds cannot work 24 hours a day in the same way. We all need time off from work. The more occupied, the person is, the more he needs a break and a diversion. Reading fiction is said to be one of the best stress busters. Reading Fiction can rejuvenate us and we can work with cool energy after the pause.

3. Regular readers get more sleep. Reading fiction disengages you from your routine work. It can therefore be a good filter to stop the stress of work and relax. Relaxation makes for better sleep.

4. Improved relationships as we read fiction, we learn to view a problem from different angles. When we can appreciate the views of others as well, then naturally our relationships will be better for us.

5. Readers have a better memory in later life; when something is told as a story, we remember it better. We can find teachers often back up their points with anecdotes, which help people understand them and memorize them well. Now there is also evidence that readers experience slower memory diminished later in life compared to non-respondents. Especially, readers later in life have a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline than their peers who don’t read.

6. Fictional readers build a strong vocabulary. We all want the kind of vocabulary that can help us speak and connect. Fiction can help you do that.

7. Enjoyment: Reading makes you happier. You can ask someone, who reads fiction or experience yourself if you haven't, the pleasure of fiction. It's just that reading makes you happier. It will also be useful to have an idea about fiction genres.

Genre is a style or category of fiction. It describes the style and focus of the novel/ story you are going to read. Genres give you blueprints for different types of stories.

Why Does Genre Matter?

Genres are great because they fulfil readers' expectations. We buy certain books because we have previously enjoyed similar stories. Reading these books gives us a sense of belonging, of sitting down with an old friend and knowing we're on familiar ground. There is also the camaraderie between readers who follow the same genres. There are often sub-genres within genres, for example, a fantasy story with sinister, frightening elements would belong to the dark fantasy sub-genre. The following are some of the popular genres, for example; Romance, Action-Adventure, Science fiction, Horror, Suspense-thriller, young adults. We can select a book of a particular genre according to our liking and mood. Happy reading.

About the Author

Ravi Ranjan Goswami is a native of Jhansi (UP). He is an IRS officer, a poet and writer.  His published titles include Palayan, Asht Yogis and The Seven Shades. Presently he is working as Assistant Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) Cochin, Kerala.