We are in the midst of one of the busiest book-buying and -giving times of the year. I want to offer why I prefer to read, give and recommend fiction to readers. Creative non-fiction is now one of the hottest genres in the entire book publishing industry, but I think my thoughts will reinforce why it is marketed as ‘creative’ and aspires to some of fiction’s best qualities.
1. Writers can be at their creative best when they write fiction while still working within the broader guidelines of believability and credibility. Great fiction can take you to places and spaces that non-fiction never can.
2. When someone asks for my favourite 10 books that I have ever read (yes, actually read and not recommend simply on reputation) the overwhelming majority of them are novels. Fiction, its characters, its narratives, and its landscapes stick with me longer than anything else.
3. Fiction always gives me more license to be creative as a reader. I have never felt as directed as I do when reading non-fiction. That is liberating and enjoyable.
4. The discussion stimulated by fiction has always been greatest for me. While book clubs and seminars often embrace non-fiction – as they should – nothing for me has ever matched the conversations surrounding a great novel.
5. Reading fiction has made me a better person. It has made me more empathatic, caring and gentle. Of course I have been affected by non-fiction at myriad turns, but not to the same degree nor for the same duration.