“Expand your mind by reading non-fiction books.”
This is advice I’ve heard several times from a popular radio personality. Sounds great, except he goes on to qualify it by insisting fiction book-reading isn’t edifying. It’s “only for fun.”
Yes, fiction books can be fun. (And he and I both agree there’s nothing wrong with that) But they can also be devastating.
And a great fiction or narrative nonfiction book ALWAYS expands my mind.
Good stories, well told. They influence decisions and view points without effort. Without being didactic. And a story doesn’t have to be “real” to be true. Eleanor Estes’s, The Hundred Dresses, Margery William’s The Velveteen Rabbit, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. These stories shaped the lens through which I view the world.
Yes, you should stay well-informed. You should know what’s going on in your world. Facts are important. But facts tend to fray if they’re not sewn together by a story.
“Top Ten Ways To…” and “self-help” books have value (though in the interest of transparency, I’m usually not drawn to them). But if a reader is really looking to expand their mind, they should reach for a story.
Tips are forgotten. Facts misplaced. Names spend a lifetime wondering around on the tips of our tongues. But stories, stories are remembered.
I am not a prolific author. I am not a world-renown anything. But I’m still betting on my side. Because I work for stories.