I won’t lie, I’ve read 2, maybe 3 times more non-fiction than fiction. This includes philosophy, technology, nature, business and the like. Unless of course, as Elon Musk thinks, we are living in our own computer game based simulation. But if you’re like me and prefer to not think about this, then we can continue to class them as non-fiction. When I talk of fiction however, I’m referring to the beautifully written novels, inspiring stories and fantasy tales. The Harry potters, the Lion kings, the alchemists, the scribbled words that get us imagining about life.
The reason I say that they are the best, is because we seem to learn more from them. Fiction books usually tell stories, or follow some sort of plot. We as readers like this. Our brains like this, it’s how they’re wired. A story allows us to put the messages contained in the book into context, it allows us to refer to them on a personal level. This is so powerful because the more personal something is to us, the more we remember. It’s almost as if we have a deep emotional attachment to these books, that can’t really be explained (or need not be, as it would spoil the beauty).
Take the lion king. Firstly, the lion king is a fascniating story that appeals both to kids and adults alike. It’s easy to follow and also at parts, deeply emtional. But it also contains alot potent wisdom and intelligence about life. The bravery of Simba, the Akuna Matada chant (Don’t worry), theevilness of Scarbeing overcome and defeated.
So, as I mentioned, memory retention goes through the roof with books that can easily be put into context. But as important as this is, there is something even more important, and that is the way fiction is written. Good fiction books contain so many little gems that say so much truth about life and us as people. Sometimes these are hidden, other times they are obvious. Take poetry for example. Sometimes poetry takes a long time to come through, to understand. But when it does, it all tends to make sense. The messages come through, the images, the sounds, the experience becomes alive. Learning rate is on an almost cosmic level.
One more thing I must mention, and that is memory retention. How many people put down a book and cannot remember much about it? How can one expect to learn if one does not remember? What has one gained from the book? The answer to this is to TAKE NOTES! I cannot stress the importance of underlining, highlighting and scribbled side notes. My physical books at home are covered in notes, and my kindle pages are have a striking resemblance to that of a rainbow. This helps me decipher the best things from the book when I want to skim-read or quickly refer to the book. If i don’t take notes, this process is 10x longer and a whole lot more miserable. It also seems to etch the message from the book into my brain a little deeper. Another great suggestion, and one which I do myself, is to do a short review or bullet-point about the book once you have read it. This doesn’t have to be long, but for the best books, I think of it as a necessity.
So many of the world’s top leaders, business men and women, and company bosses are big readers of fiction. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, loves a Disney book or two. Tim Ferriss is rekindling his love for fiction. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, said that he has learnt more from fiction in his life than from any other books. If the founder of Amazon reads fiction, you’d do well to follow his lead.
So remember, fiction is not just for kids, or for fairy tales. Fiction presents an opportunity for learning like no other.
So where to start? Two of my favourite books are The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (check out my review here), and The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. The prophet is an excellently written book that i heartily recommend to everyone who reads. It’s a very short story of a Prophet who is leaving his people and as he leaves, his people ask him to speak of life, and he does so in a beautiful style. It’s structure is that like poetry, only, it’s more powerful than poetry. Pick it up here for a couple of quid.
I would like to know what are your favourite fictional books or movies? Leave a comment below.