I like to read stories more than I like to read any other form of writing. I just can’t seem to get into non-fiction. History, self help, how-to just doesn’t grab me. I’ve got a particularly intense allergy to business books of which my aversion is so strong I would rather pulp a “helpful” book than crack it open.
Some of this may be because of how I perceive rest. If I have any indication that something is bettering me in any capacity it’s just not relaxing. Deliberate learning reads too much as work. It’s not that I mind edifying content, not at all, it’s that if it’s meant as some kind of life and skill improving text I’m indignant that I didn’t spend the time doing something restorative.
I happen to think that this preferences for fiction has actually made me a better thinker. Stories and hypotheticals force us to expand our mental models. If I’m being instructed in a useful topic like venture deals or better management I am learning something specific with a perspective on how things should be done. If I’m reading a story about anti-memetic weapons I’m being forced to consider entirely alien ways the world might work. There is no expectation that I find utility in the thing or that I put into practice what I’ve learned. It’s purely an expansion of my reality.
Not being pressured to accept something makes it’s eventually welcoming all the more pleasurable. You’ve simply lived your way into this new mode of being. It’s a little bit like forcing an orgasm, sure we can all do it, but is it really necessary? And yes I just compared sex to reading but that probably tells you a lot about me.
Everytime I try to integrate more utility driven books into my routine I reject the habit. I make time in the day to sit up and do the edifying books. And then I put it off for other activities. But I never put aside fiction. Every night I read for an hour before I sleep. It’s a habit so engrained it’s more necessary to my day than brushing my teeth or my morning coffee.
And so I stay with stories. I look for the most strange and different works I can find. I preference science fiction as it tends to meet that criteria but in truth I will read all genres and types. I’ve loved tight family dramas as much as a thriller. As long as something about it alters my mind even just a little I’m game. Remaking the metaphors I use is ironically the best use of both my leisure and work time. Creativity comes from the hard work of changing who you are to ever truer and more honest forms.