I know a lot of people have a set preference as to what they will read when it comes to fiction and non-fiction. Many people say they only read fiction, others say they only read non-fiction for school or work, others still say they only see the point in reading something they gain knowledge from.
Personally, I think there is wisdom to be found in everything that has been and is yet to be written. Whether it is pure, straight facts, or what you can interpret from fiction, there is always something that can be taken from all collections of words. Maybe that sounds a bit daft, but I really think it’s true. You might learn something as simple as a new word, or an author’s standing on key issues which leads you to consider your own opinion. You might find the answer to a question you’ve wondered for a long time, or a short time, that nevertheless gets answered. You might find humour in something you’ve struggled with. The possibilities are truly endless.
I’ve always read a mixture of the two, but this year I’ve surprised myself by just how much non-fiction I’ve read, and the variety of it. Normally my book selection involves several history books, and whilst that’s been true this year as well, I’ve been made to push myself out of my comfort zone by the reading challenges I’ve written about here. Trying to cover the alphabet has meant that what I’ve ended up reading hasn’t necessarily been what I intended to, which is a great thing.
Beyond that, I don’t see the benefits of limiting yourself in such a way that you cross off half of the books written. When it comes to food, if you don’t like, for example, prawns, then you can stop eating prawns, and it doesn’t impact on your eating habits overall, because there are so many other foods you can eat instead. Even within seafood, there are endless options. Translating that to books, and if you have tried a particular book or author, then really just discarding those as options rather than writing off the whole of “fiction” or “non-fiction” makes much more sense.
There are so many options out there when it comes to books, whatever you want to read about, however you want to read it, and keeping those horizons expanded is so beneficial. Of course we all know what we like to read as an automatic “reach for” book, but by trying something new, there is the chance of discovering a whole new world (did you sing that in your head? I bet you are now.) of literature that may have never entered our lives if we didn’t take the chance.
Live boldly, even when it comes to books. Only by breaking out of our comfort zone can we be totally sure what we love. Read everything you can get your hands on, and take from it knowledge of every form.