‘I don’t read fiction’
I was at a networking event recently, chatting as you do at these things and we got onto the subject of books. No big surprise there, but I was surprised to hear the lady I was talking to say that although she was a voracious reader, she didn’t read fiction. We discussed the books she did read and they were all self-help or ‘business’ books. I have to say I’m a great admirer of both genres (although some self-help authors could do with reading their own books), but to only read these does seem to me to be missing out on a whole world.
All work and no …
To me, that would be like only watching documentaries and to ignore tv shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Mad Men’. Or if you favour the radio to listen only to Woman’s Hour and not let Bernie Keith (a local favourite) or Steve Wright massage your ears. In other words, all work and no play makes Josephine a dull girl.
It’s story time
Human beings love stories. Think of the legends that have developed over the years and that we’ve grown up listening to: The Tales of Robin Hood, the Arthurian legends, Hansel and Gretl or the flight of Icarus. We learn our values from such tales: chivalry, manners, don’t talk to strangers and don’t be arrogant. In books, children devour Harry Potter and Jacqueline Wilson; we’ve had the Fifty Shades phenomenon and then there’s James Patterson, Lee Child and Daniel Baldacci filling the supermarket shelves.
Tell me again
If you can’t tell a good story, and that includes jokes and poems, people view you slightly differently. We want to be entertained and we want to hear a good tale. The crash that happened at 7.30am in Northampton because two muppets decided to race each other; what happened at school today, the origin story of your business or the moment that changed your life. People are hooked on a well-told tale. Non-fiction books are better because of good story-telling; people listen when you tell your story well and want to know more about you. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to read more fiction, develop your story-telling techniques and make yourself more compelling.
Fancy spending your whole adult life reading what amounts to school textbooks! There is no reason why non-fiction books should be dull. Think of ‘Diary of a Bookseller’, for example. There’s even a name for it: narrative non-fiction.