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Your views on reading fiction

reading fiction

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#1 Alizee

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:08 AM


I am debating to myself if spending a lot of time reading fictional books would help improve my thinking skills, grammar/vocab, speaking skills, ideas, and just overall make me into a better person, or it's mostly just a waste of time.

The books I choose to read have to be relevant to my ultimate career; physician, or it has some relevance to life-extension (throwing out a weak recommendation to Rollback by Sawyer). Or it has to be a classic, read before you die, type book. It has to be a challenging book.

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Do you think reading fiction is a wise investment of your time??

#2 lemonhead

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 12:13 PM

If you have free time, then yes. If the dishes need doing, then do them and then read. Reading will expand your vocabulary (especially if you keep a list of unfamiliar words) and improve your scores on standardized tests.

I recommend mixing things up with some non-fiction.

You are old enough that I think reading fiction would be overwhelmingly positive. My offspring reads too much I think, takes after me. The problem as I see it is that novels for kids/young adults usually have happy endings (unless it is the second in a trilogy) and 'good always triumphs over evil' messages. This can set one up for unrealistic expectations of the world and overly 'good' behavior detrimental to one's own self interest.

As for specific recommendations for fiction, I posted a list to the 'List your 10 favorite books of all time' to the Bookclub section (unfortunatley I did not know about the Amazon links progam to support Longecity when I posted). These were books that came to mind given the context of this forum, so they are mostly science fiction and most have existential themes.

Your local public librarian can be of assistance when choosing books to read; you may need to ask a few before you find a librarian who is on the same wavelength as you, though.

Edited by lemonhead, 16 September 2013 - 12:38 PM.

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#3 nowayout

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 12:39 PM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.
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#4 lemonhead

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 01:14 PM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.


Sometimes it is worth a bit of a slog. I think I was around 12 when I first read Dune; I almost gave up on it but I kept going because people said it was so good. I got into it after about 75 pages.

On the other hand, I've never been able to finish anything by James Joyce.

#5 nowayout

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 03:15 PM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.


Sometimes it is worth a bit of a slog. I think I was around 12 when I first read Dune; I almost gave up on it but I kept going because people said it was so good. I got into it after about 75 pages.

On the other hand, I've never been able to finish anything by James Joyce.

True. Sometimes it is worth the slog and sometimes I think it is okay to give up. I gave up on Neal Stephenson's Anathem after a couple of hundred pages. If an author cannot captivate you after, say, a fifth of the book, I don't think he deserves to be read. And I personally think Joyce is bullshit, as is all art that concentrates on technique to the detriment of content.
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#6 Alizee

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 06:38 AM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.


I understand reading for your enjoyment, but I am not trying to read for entertainment (life is short if I don't protect it with my life), but hope that it helps me in some way in my personal life; offer insight, new ways of thinking, philosophy. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those books that forever change my life. Gone with the Wind, great novel, but the movie pretty much capture Scarlet O'Hara perfectly.

I wouldn't read a book like Twilight, unless I am going with a mindset that this is just pure entertainment that offers little intellectual stimulation. Nor Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings (great novel, but it's not going to really help me all that much in the real world).

I read non-fiction often as well, and biographies are great for that. A few biographies I read help me in my life time over time.
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I don't have a lot of time to spend on casual reading, so I am selective about it.

Edited by Alizee, 17 September 2013 - 06:46 AM.


#7 nowayout

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 01:48 PM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.


I understand reading for your enjoyment, but I am not trying to read for entertainment (life is short if I don't protect it with my life), but hope that it helps me in some way in my personal life; offer insight, new ways of thinking, philosophy. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those books that forever change my life. Gone with the Wind, great novel, but the movie pretty much capture Scarlet O'Hara perfectly.


By enjoyment I meant also intellectual enjoyment. What I meant is don't read stuff you find a painful slog just because people tell you it is "culture" or "required" (like Joyce's bullshit, or perhaps Jane Austen's silly preoccupations with who's rich and marriageable, or maybe the endless repetitive boringness of Homer's Iliad, unless of course you are really into it.)

#8 machete234

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 11:07 AM

Read what you enjoy. Don't worry about reading "relevant", "recommended", or "classic" books, unless that really is what you enjoy. Life is too short.


Sometimes it is worth a bit of a slog. I think I was around 12 when I first read Dune; I almost gave up on it but I kept going because people said it was so good. I got into it after about 75 pages.

On the other hand, I've never been able to finish anything by James Joyce.

James Joyce seems like troll nowadays writing endlessly describing the scenery and what not and thats 75 pages in the book. By then the 3 characters have smeared butter on their bread or something like that.

I wouldnt have enjoyed dune that much if I hadnt seen parts of the movie allready and so I knew how to imagine some things.
I have all dune novels but I read only the first one.
To me they dont seem to be so brilliantly written and by that I mean the style is often not so visual that I can imagine everything.
PKD is like that and also Stanislav Lem, I cant imagine them to be people who think very visually.

Anyways I think reading fiction is really important because you can pick up information effortlessly and it probably makes your imagination better.
This is why you should learn this as a child, so that you can learn how to see images and scenery in front of you while reading.
Im not sure if somebody gets this who starts reading a lot of fiction in their adult life.

I wouldn't read a book like Twilight, unless I am going with a mindset that this is just pure entertainment that offers little intellectual stimulation. Nor Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings (great novel, but it's not going to really help me all that much in the real world).


Nope life is too short for such a bullshit, if you want to read a few pages please pirate the ebook or something and dont spend much time and money on it.
Enjoying trash because its so trashy is funny for about 10 minutes in my case.

Edited by machete234, 20 September 2013 - 11:13 AM.


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#9 nowayout

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 12:33 PM

... (great novel, but it's not going to really help me all that much in the real world).

Now that's where I don't agree with you. Reading only whatever you think will help you get ahead is a very cynical approach to literature and life in general - it is an attitude that will suck the life and humanity right out of you very quickly. By the way, reading novels are good for your brain - language, concentration skills, visualization and imagination - all skills that will help you get ahead in life, but still, that is not why you should read.

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