Reading has always been an integral part of my life. Besides reading non-fiction to learn about my interests, I have always loved reading fiction. One of my fondest childhood memories is the regular Friday afternoon visits to the library.
As an advanced reader, I soon got bored with children’s books. Thus, I’ve always quickly selected my books for the week from the children’s section before heading to the adult library – engrossing myself in more grown-up books. My parents knew to look for me in the adult section when it was time to leave.
“Reading for me is like breathing. If I cannot read, my soul will quietly rot away” – Unknown.
During a time of unemployment, I truly associated with the above quote and thus decided to make it the tagline of my book blog.
We all know reading has many benefits, but what makes reading fiction more beneficial? In this article, I will explore the following:
Firstly, let’s look at the benefits of reading fiction as a hobby.
What Makes Reading Fiction the Ultimate Hobby?
Scanning through vast amounts of information and short social media posts has changed how people read. Firstly, skimming and reading only short posts lead to a shortened concentration span. And since most information can be found online, it removed the incentive to remember information.
a) Reading increases your concentration span
The nature of reading forces you to concentrate for long periods. Chapters in a book form a natural whole and entice the reader to complete at least a chapter in one sitting. Some genres often have longer chapters broken into smaller sections.
Considering that fiction books can have anything from 300 pages, you can imagine the concentration it takes to read for an hour, an afternoon, or finish a complete book.
b) Reading improves memory
Writing a great story means an author must share many details about his characters and their environment. And then create the storyline through the actions of these characters. Readers need an excellent memory to keep track of all these details and follow the storyline as it develops.
c) You learn new words
A good reader’s main trait is looking up the meaning of new words they encounter. When reading fiction, you are exposed to new words introduced by authors from different places and cultures than us. Thus, fiction readers will have a more advanced and extensive vocabulary.
d) Reading is a healthy escape mechanism
Science has proved that you become part of the story when reading fiction. You associate with a specific character, and with the use of your imagination, you feel as if you are in their environment. Reality fades away, and for a while, you can escape from the realities of life.
e) It teaches empathy
One of the main reasons people read fiction is that they develop a kinship with the characters in the story. Most often because the characters are experiencing the same challenges they do. The character’s thoughts, actions, and input from other characters can help us to figure out solutions to our problems. But if the character overcomes the challenging situation, we can also apply their answer to our crisis. So, reading fiction makes us more resilient, as explained in the article 10 Ways to be resilient.
f) Reading fiction encourages empathy and acceptance
The various characters in novels expose us to people from different races, cultures, and religions, and with varying perspectives to ours. When we immerse ourselves in these diverse characters and see the world through their eyes, we develop empathy and better understand them. It eradicates ignorance and leads to greater acceptance of others.
g) Reading relaxes you and helps you sleep better
Many people struggling with meditation will be happy to know that reading puts your brain in the same state as during meditation. This state of deep relaxation and inner calm makes falling asleep easier and improves overall sleep quality.
h) Family time
Although you would think reading fiction is a solitary hobby, I remember our family reading time as our best bonding experience. Finding us together in the living room was customary – each engrossed in their book. The new TV was more for Dad to catch up with the news and got little attention from us.
What Different Formats Can You Use for Reading Fiction?
Technological advancements have created many different formats that we can use to read fiction.
a) Physical books
Many people still prefer to read the old-fashioned way. Nothing beats the sensory experience of reading a physical book. It involves more of the senses – like the smell of a new book, feeling the texture of the pages, and the sound of turning the pages as you progress through the novel. On the other hand, books are becoming increasingly expensive, require a lot of storage space, and are limited with the number of books you can carry at any time.
b) Smartphones or tablets
Reading novels on your phone or tablet has the advantage of always having your book with you and access to an almost unlimited number of books. But your phone’s battery dying on you can rob you of a reading opportunity, and the blue light emissions interfere with your sleep.
E-readers with white paper technology are a great option. They are small and light to carry with you, the e-ink technology is gentler on the eyes, and the ability to increase the font is excellent for older adults and those with sight impairments. It doesn’t affect your sleep, and the extensive battery life will keep you reading for days. You won’t run out of reading material if enough books are downloaded.
Many people now also like to listen to audiobooks instead of the traditional reading of books. It is helpful for people who lead busy lives because you can listen to a story while cooking, travelling, etc. But you might miss critical details because your attention is divided. And it is more challenging to go back to an audiobook than when reading.
Where Can You Find Fiction Books to Read
With the ever-increasing cost of books, buying is only sometimes an option.
If you prefer physical books, visiting second-hand bookshops is an excellent option. You can also borrow books for free from your local library, although you might lose out on newer titles due to budget constraints. Forming a book exchange with friends and family who reads the same genres you love is a great idea.
Digital books are available in online stores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Many people now also prefer listening to audiobooks from Audible, Google Play, and Spotify.
How to Find a Fiction Genre You Would Love
If life gets too busy and you want to get back into reading fiction, start with reading the genres you love. But feel free to try different genres as well.
If you are new to reading novels, think about the type of movies you like, and then try stories in those genres. Alternatively, browse through books in the store or the library, read some excerpts, and start with the book that resonates with you. Once completed, read a book in the same genre from the same author, or repeat the browsing exercise to find your next book.
Another great way to find good novels is to read book reviews. At Read or Rot, I review a variety of genres, so feel free to check them out!
How to Create Fiction Reading Habits
Find a good spot! Even though a reading corner sounds like the ultimate luxury, a comfy chair in a quiet corner is enough for a start!
Invariably, we all end up waiting in a queue. This is the perfect opportunity to continue your novel, especially since your progress syncs smoothly between your devices.
Many people even read while relaxing in a bubble bath; just be careful not to fall asleep and drop your book or e-reader in the tub!
The best way to form a new habit is to link it to a current one. And since you only need 6 minutes a day to reap the benefits of reading fiction, you can start by committing to read a chapter a day.
Instead of getting into bed and checking your phone, use that time to read a chapter. Or if you like relaxing with a cup of coffee after work, it is the perfect time to fit in a single chapter.
What to do next?
Finishing a novel, together with the other benefits of reading fiction, will help improve self-esteem. So, check your schedule and carve out some reading time today!
(2017, January 24). The Curative Powers of Reading. Daniel Boone Regional Library. Retrieved June 27, 2023, from https://www.dbrl.org/news/curative-powers-of-reading#:~:text= “Reading%20has%20been%20shown%20to,depression%20than%20non-readers.”
Jessica, E. (n.d.). 65 Interesting Statistics About Reading 2023 (Success & Benefits). Healthy, Happy, Impactful. Retrieved June 27, 2023, from https://healthyhappyimpactful.com/statistics-reading/
Van der Walt, S. A. (n.d.). Reading Fiction: Awesome Marketing Benefits Knowing Why People Love It. Read or Rot. Retrieved June 27, 2023, from https://readorrot.com/reading-fiction-the-awesome-marketing-benefits-of-knowing-why-people-love-it/articles/
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