Fiction vs non-fiction (the battle of the century) (also a minor announcement)

My dad and I have had this thing going on forever, where he'd say something about how he loves non-fiction and how stupid fiction is, then I would reply with something along the lines of you're wrong fight me. (Which, in all honestly, would not end well for me because while I do jiu jitsu, I'm not very good at it and he does crossfit. And he could probably just sit on me and that'd be the end for me.)

So which one is better? Voilà! I have a list (or two) for you. 

-You can escape from reality
-You can explore themes and issues that you couldn't in real life (like the power of words in The Book Thief)
-You can explore historical events and what it would have actually been like to live there/then
-You can make an emotional connection with the story
-Can inspire you to take charge of your own life or build certain positive characteristics 

-It's not real
-Can distract you from real life
-It may change the way you think about life, especially if you only read one type of genre (such as historical romance)

-Helps you learn about people, places, events, our world
-Informs you about various worldview and ideas
-Helps you understand your world and your place in it

-May leave you with little imagination

Ok, admittedly there aren't many cons to reading non-fiction. (And I don't have any problem with reading non-fiction. I actually love non-fiction.) Our never-ending argument mostly revolves around the fact that he won't read any fiction at all, and my point is that dude (yes, I've called my dad "dude" before), fiction has so much to offer too. 

How many times have I read Artemis Fowl and resolved to stick to my friends more in the future? How many times have I read The Penderwicks and realised that yeah, sometimes you may want to murder your siblings in a violent fashion but you also really love them. (I also may or may not want to become Captain America/Spider-Man/The Doctor.) Reading fiction has made me a better person. I live in a world that isn't always the best role model, and to have these fictional people who always strive to become better reminds me that I don't have to follow the pain and hurt and sin in this world. 

Again, I'm not against non-fiction. I've read lots of amazing biographies and I adore documentaries and I've learned so much about other countries through non-fiction books. But we need a balance. (Also, I'm declaring myself the winner of this particular argument.)

*drops mike* 

(Also, minor announcement. I'm going to Canada! YAY!!! It's my grandparents' 50th anniversary and my dad, brother and I are going for about three weeks during August. That means I have guest posting opportunities available if anyone's interested. (Contact me at if you are.) Other than that, we're going to have a great time and I'M SO EXCITED!!) 

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? 


  1. Love this post! I've actually been considering writing a post on why fiction is important (my mom is always like, "It's not real!!" although she does at least read fiction for pleasure sometimes.) I agree non-fiction is good. I personally have a hard time reading more than ten pages at a time. BUT there is nothing wrong with nonfiction, obviously. It's real. But I like what you say about fiction. It does have a lot to offer too.

    Okay, question though. You put the point that fiction could change the way we think about the world as a con. Which in the sense that I think you were going for (as in historical romance which can raise a lot of unrealistic expectations) it can be a con. But sometimes fiction can change the way we look at the world for the better too. Sometimes it opens our eyes to something we've never thought of or seen before. It also allows us to look through a different perspective than our own, which by definition would change the way we see the world. And that's not necessarily a bad because it helps us learn to empathize with other people who aren't like us. We realize that not everyone functions the same way.

    Ahem. Just had to say. . .

    Hurray! A trip to Canada! So since you're visiting your grandparents does that mean you'll get to visit some of your friends from Canada too? I hope you have a great time!

    1. Too true, too true. I did mean in a negative way, but it totally can be in a positive way. It'd be great to change your perspective if you were a white guy and reading about the struggles of a female POC, so yeah, I should probably change that. Thinking about it now, that's probably one of the biggest pros of fiction. Thanks for pointing that out!

      Yeah, my grandparents live like twenty minutes out of my hometown, so I'll be staying in town and we'll drive out and whatever. I'M JUST SO EXCITED!


  3. Have fun in Canada!

    Personally, I've found that a healthy balance of both fiction and nonfiction are integral to my reading life. On the one hand, I do admit that nonfiction is important: it is how I get perspectives on the world I'm living in. I would maybe disagree with you about stifling creativity, though. I think the creativity present in nonfiction is simply directed towards real-world goals! And that's no bad thing. However, that isn't to say that nonfiction doesn't have its limitations—as it is often constrained by real-world boundaries, it can keep us thinking inside a box and even do a disservice to us mentally if we train our brains to think that way exclusively.

    Fiction does have its uses, too. I mean, I wouldn't say that it's only fiction that is emotionally engaging or inspires you to change your life or explores historical life. I'm not challenging your experience with that, it of course isn't exclusive. But I did actually write a term paper on why reading fiction at a university level for non-humanities majors was important, and to sum up the ten pages I wrote on it:

    *fiction acts as a simulator for things we are going to experience in real life
    *fiction encourages abstract thought
    *fiction can criticize and create aspirations for the real world in a unique way
    *fiction can cross boundaries and reach out to different audiences in meaningful ways

    So, clearly, we can't dismiss fiction either. I agree with you there. (And if you ever want a really long paper to throw at your dad about it, you have my email. ;) )

    Also, have fun in Canada! Can't wait to hear from you when you return!

    1. Thanks! I'm sure I will! :D

      Those are very true points. *nods wisely* Nonfiction can definitely help you with real world creative thinking, but in terms of abstract thinking I personally find it a little stifling. I've found (and this is just from my own personal experience) that if I read more than one non-fiction book in a row, then my creative writing suffers for it and I have to read fiction again to recharge. It'd be different for different people, of course, and not everyone writes fiction.

      That is once again true. (Remind me to never argue with an English major :)) But once again, I've found in my experience that I'm more motivated and inspired by fiction over nonfiction. It could just be the books I read, possibly. I'd have to talk to more people about their experiences, but I'm the only person I know in real life who reads both fiction and non-fiction. (It's pathetic, really. (Hence this post.))

      I like those points! I read them out to my dad and he just kind of wandered away, so I don't know how much he took in. I tried, at least.

      Thank you so much! And thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment!

  4. "(such as historical romance)" -- this sassy parenthesis made me snort! You know my feelings on that genre ........

    Definitely fiction, though I'm not sure I read enough non-fiction. I should definitely read more Christian books. This year I'm looking forward to reading a biography of Ted Hughes ... Also, one of my fave books is Wild Swans by Jung Chang, have you read? But overall I much prefer fiction. It can get inside a character's head the way a biography, say, cannot. And also there may be dragons.

    Speaking of, I just thought I'd let you know that I've had a mad busy week so not much time for Formulas, but I AM working on it! (And enjoying it!) My book is with a beta at the moment and I know very well the horrible fear of WHAT IF SHE HATES IT, WHY IS SHE NOT CONTACTING ME, so I thought I'd give you an update. I'm going away on camp on Sat for two weeks, sans laptop, so I won't have it back to till August -- I'm really sorry about that! But I am looking forward to reading more of it :)

    That's exciting about Canada!


      I agree with you there, and I'll have to check out your recs. I should read more non-fiction... but dragons!

      Thank you so much for the update! I too have that fear of THE WORLD IS ENDING HELP! Don't be sorry, enjoy camp!

  5. Fiction, obviously.

    Wow, I'm late.

    1. *high fives* Obviously.

      (And I'm late answering, so there's that.)


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