Face it. You can’t live with your head in the clouds forever. Fiction whisks you out of the real world and builds unrealistic expectations. Readers of fiction can become discontent with the lives they are leading. The lesson? Don’t waste your time on fiction–instead, determine to choose books that inspire.
A Bookworm Reacts to Fiction Bashing
Every time I read a blog post that bashes fiction or hear someone boasting that they only read non-fiction, I cringe. I grew up with my nose in a book. When I read A Little Princess for the first time, I immediately identified with Sara when her father said,
She is always sitting with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn’t read them, Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always starving for new books to gobble.
So, what do I mean when I repeat the naysayers’ mantra of, “Don’t waste time on fiction”? Obviously I’m not telling you to throw out every novel in your house and feed yourself an exclusive diet of non-fiction. You wouldn’t listen to me anyway. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it is entirely possible to waste time on fiction and be negatively impacted by it.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. –Philippians 4:5
The Good and the Bad
Dear reader, don’t abuse fiction. Don’t neglect necessary and needful things like reading the Bible, doing school, working diligently, serving others, and spending time with God in order to read “one more chapter.” Don’t choose books that fill your mind with unholy thoughts.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –Philippians 4:8
When people turn their backs on fiction, they’ve often been exposed predominately to books that don’t turn their thoughts to things that are true, lovely, pure, and of good report. That’s a tragedy. There are many stories that can help you do exactly what Philippians 4:9 directs. That’s why I love fiction so much.
Fiction and Me
Novels have had a huge impact on my life. I can point to particular books that have shaped and grown me to the person I am today. The Hundred Dresses taught me to care about people who are different, left out, or made fun of. As a very young reader, I remember finishing this book with a determination to befriend anyone who didn’t fit in–a determination that led me to make a point of greeting each newcomer at homeschool group and church. When I was twelve, A Family Apart renewed my interest in orphan care, a passion that is a huge part of who I am today. At sixteen, Safely Home pulled me into the life of a Chinese Christian and suddenly made the persecution I had learned about my whole life real. Without Alcorn’s novel, I might never have written Counted Worthy.
These books are a tiny sampling of the timeline of fiction that positively impacted my life. These are the books that make me want to cry out in protest when people dismiss fiction as being less worthy that non-fiction.
Non-fiction can teach the mind, but fiction inspires the heart. [Tweet This]
Don’t Waste. Spend Wisely.
Don’t waste your time on trifling fiction. Spend it wisely on stories that teach your heart to care about the things God cares about.
Yes, stories have a tendency to change our expectations and cause us to look at the world with different eyes. This can be destructive, but it isn’t always.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2
Don’t choose novels that pull your mind away from what matters. Instead, find stories that cause you to–in the words of Do Hard Things–rebel against low expectations. Don’t choose novels that fill you with selfish discontent. Instead, find books that make you want to shed mediocrity and seek God’s best.
Don’t waste your time on books that shrink your world to yourself (and maybe an imaginary, perfect significant other that doesn’t exist). Read fiction–and yes, non-fiction too–that inspires bigger living.
What books have inspired you to care about things that matter? What makes you love fiction?