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What it is about fiction that I find so fulfilling?
I have just finished a most enjoyable holiday novel, and have been pondering on what it is about reading a good fiction book that makes me sigh, want to read more and want to find someone to talk to about it.
This particular story, was made up, but was based on real life. It felt real to me. I was transported to a different time but I could relate to each of the characters. I could relate to the plot. I could relate to the place or setting.
In other words, I felt connected. And, I gained through reading it.
I was deeply absorbed by story and couldn’t put it down. I wanted to follow through after the book had finished to find out “what next?”
So; back to my original question: Why fiction?
Non fiction feeds my factual brain, my desire to know “what”. Fiction feeds by emotional brain, my desire to know why. The authorJulian Barnes wrote: “Books are where things are explained to you. Life is where things aren’t”. I have always been a person who wants to know why.
The books that I remember most vividly are those that have evoked an emotional response from me. This realisation makes me reflect on the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). Research indicates that our success in life is as much dependant on our EQ as it is on our IQ. Consequently it follows that anything that strengthens our emotional intelligence can enhance our capacity for success in life.
Well, reading fiction, stories about people, their interactions, their inner and outer lives, their adventures, fantasies and romances, their successes and failures must surely enhance my social awareness and my understanding of people. Surely this leads to enhanced social abilities and a more mature IQ?
I am reminded of the well publicised adage that “Kids who read succeed”. In particular, the New Zealand based research “Competent Children, Competent Learners” lead by Kath Wylie. This study reinforces that children who choose to read are more successful learners across all curriculum areas as well as being more socially integrated.
Surely this is what we want for all our students!
Why do I read fiction?
Well, there are the obvious reasons :
Also, based on my previous reasoning, I also read fiction to succeed.
All this leads me to ponder on yet another question. Do girls and women read more fiction than boys/men? And if so why, and what are the consequences? That is another discussion for another time.
…And the book that set me wondering about all this? I highly recommend “Ithaca” by Lynley Dear. This beautifully written novel, spans family generations in Scotland, London, New Zealand, Germany and modern Jerusalem. It was mostly the New Zealand connection that drew me in, especially since my holiday travels took me to many of the places mentioned in the book.
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