Why is fiction so important?

Let me begin being by saying the purpose of this particular blog is to share some ideas but also to receive some feedback via comments or trackbacks.

I always hated reading as many people do. Growing up I never read and I always associated reading with being a pain. Over the past couple of years I have become a pretty avid reader. A majority of it is web-based content but I have read quite a few books as well. The conclusion I came to as to why I and many other people associated reading as being a pain is because for so long we were force fed fiction.

Growing up in school year in and year out we had English/Language Arts classes and we were forced to read fiction books. Alot of the books, in particular the Shakespeare readings, were difficult to read and atleast in my case provoked very little thought. The three reasons I came up with why reading as a part of education is important are to create desire and means for obtaining knowledge, to spark thought and ideas, and to appreciate literature and writers.

For those of you who don't know me I pretty much only read non-fiction and the only two books I can remember reading precollege that I enjoyed were Michael Dell's Direct from Dell and Reggie Miller's I Love Being the Enemy and neither of those were for school. Why can't nonfiction be incorporated into education? It meets two of those three criteria and I'm not saying it needs to be all non-fiction so its not like the appreciation aspect would be eliminated. We aren't forced to appreciate art or music why are we forced to appreciate literature. This is a disservice that leads people to associate reading with pain.

I think the reason lies in one of two phrases that rub me the wrong way, "its always been that way" and "because I said so". The last fiction book I tried to read, granted I didn't know it was fiction when I picked it up, was the DaVinci code. I was interested because it seemed to be advertised as a book that was based on little known historical facts that provoked thought about religion. About ten pages in I went from interested to not interested after I realized it was a fiction book based on manipulating pseudo facts to tell a made up story. Needless to say I didn't get much past page ten.I am not saying we should go with fiction free education. I am just saying why can't nonfiction have a place so that people like me don't give up on reading all together. In same ways I think its just that I could be unique bc I don't like a lot of the fiction pop culture type books and movies. I am not a fan of DaVinvi Code, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or The Matrix. These just don't do it for me but that should be okay.

Alot of times fiction is valued because it is supposed to spark creativity and imagination. I think that is true to an extent but in many cases nonfiction can go beyond what fiction can. Like when I blogged about the story of the 2005 Texas Football team and that if the story had appeared in a book or movie it would have been written off as unrealistic. Fiction often has constraints that the oddities of reality can go beyond.

The bulk of the books I read today are biographies. I am a big believer in the thought that the path to success is through emulating successful people. Explain to me why the world of academia cannot come to grasps with this thought.
-hj

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