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Is Reading Fiction a Waste of Time?

June 5, 2021
(image via wikimedia)

When I was a teenager with a book collection, I had several friends who didn’t read. They claimed that I was wasting my time reading stories when I could be doing things like playing sports, getting drunk, and chasing women with no morals. I told them they were wasting their time playing sports, getting drunk, and chasing loose women when they could be reading.

Now I think those friends of mine kind of had a point. I’m 55, and I’m starting to believe that I’ve wasted a lot of my time reading junk. There are a lot of important skills that I could have learned but didn’t because I was reading fiction.

I’m reading a lot of nonfiction now (and watching instructional videos). I’m beginning to learn skills that I can use around the house, stuff that I should have learned as a kid but didn’t (both parents worked, and I was usually alone in the house when I returned home from school).

I’ve always known just enough to be dangerous, as some people say. I could probably electrocute myself without trying. I can hit my head on a garbage disposal while underneath the sink. I can spark up my drained car battery even when I set up the booster cables correctly. My goal now is to be competent without getting myself killed.

Except with electricity. I’m not going to mess with electricity.

I don’t think all my fiction reading has been a waste of time. Reading is a great way to wind down after a day of working hard. It’s better than watching most television shows. There’s a chance, however, that I could have used some of that reading time more wisely.

Reading fiction supposedly builds up your empathy. Empathy is okay, but it doesn’t fix your car or keep the electricity running. And it does nothing for indoor plumbing. Man, I really like indoor plumbing.

I don’t regret reading so much fiction during my life. I just don’t think I’m going to read much more fiction anymore. There’s too much real stuff that I don’t know about.


Enough about me! What do you think? Is it possible to read too much fiction in one’s lifetime?

  1. So where do I fit in? I like reading fiction AND getting drunk, and chasing women with no morals.

  2. Gotta disagree with you on the fiction. It is the only thing that keeps things level. It is good to be practical and educate one’s self but you need a little non reality to detract from what’s going on out there. Just saying.

  3. I don’t recall when I stopped reading fiction. It wasn’t a choice I made, it just kind of happened. I don’t regret even one moment of my time spent reading fiction. When I was into it, I loved every minute of it. I think growth might mean leaving certain things behind, even things you loved. You have to move on eventually, at some point.

    • I agree with that. Plus, I kept on reading the same books but with different titles, and these new same books with different titles weren’t as good as the originals.

  4. Hey I think its a wonderful way to imagine and learn creativity. And since fiction also comes out of a thought, its an interesting way to delve in to potential of human mins. But yes do fix the bulb and the leaking tap too.

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