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Why I read fiction

Recently, one of my friends told me he was surprised that I spend so much time reading fiction (I read more than 20 books of fiction last year) when I could be using that time more productively. And his surprise came from the fact that I'm a big advocate of the productivity culture.

I have had other people before tell me that they considered reading fiction a waste of time as it doesn't add any value to them and is merely entertainment.

Firstly, entertainment is an essential part of our lives. And although I do read fiction for entertainment, it is never just that. Sure, reading murder mysteries are skewed heavily towards being merely for entertainment, but a lot of fiction is very inspiring.

Most of the people I really look up to and aspire to be like are fictional characters. They can instill a sense of awe in us that real people with their baggage cannot. Because real people cannot be perfect.

This was the reason Bruce Wayne chose to fight crime as Batman - a symbol of the highest values, someone who is incorruptible. As Bruce Wayne, he can be maligned, ignored and destroyed. But as Batman, he would be a symbol that everyone can rally around.

Batman and Captain America are two of the most inspiring super-heroes for me, simply because they set the standards for values so high that they inspire me to set similarly high standards for myself. I fall short quite often, but they act as inspiration to be better and do better.

Fiction definitely entertains. But beyond that, it also inspires. And that is the reason I read fiction (and watch fiction).

Having more time to do productive things is meaningless if we aren't inspired to do the right things in the first place. 

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