What if you could experience being a completely different person? And then come back to being yourself again.
Would that be a worthwhile learning experience?
I bet it would.
You would have a chance to see things from a completely different perspective. Which is maybe one of the best ways to expand your thinking. And to improve your empathy.
Not to mention that you would likely need to face a whole set of challenges that you have never faced before. Maybe things you never even contemplated facing. Probably things that you are completely unprepared to face.
Another great learning opportunity, right?
Now, imagine that you can actually have these experiences. Because you can. Anyone can do these thought experiments. Easily.
That’s what fiction reading is for.
Just like the immersive experience of a good movie, you can get lost in fiction. Mentally, you become the main character. Viscerally, you experience what they experience. Many studies have verified this to be true. And you know it intuitively.
That’s what draws us to these experiences. For entertainment. But also for real learning.
We are built to learn. Particularly through story. Sitting around the campfire and swapping tales, for sure.
But also through imagining we are part of those tales. It helps us to think about and prepare for similar challenges. We can’t help but think about what we would do in the situation. How would we handle it.
We think about this deeply and automatically. That’s why you feel fear, anxiety, relief, joy, and all of the emotions that play out as a friend shares their story with us. Or as we watch it play out on the screen. Or as we quietly enjoy a good book.
Last week, I recommended some summer reading in the nonfiction category. Reading nonfiction is a great way to learn new knowledge. It’s cheap, easy, and effective.
But you gotta read fiction too. Sure, it has entertainment value. But it also has tremendous learning value, for all the reasons above.
More and different. That’s what learning is about. Doing more stuff. Doing different stuff. And going as far afield as you can. Bringing that experience back home.
With reading, you can go to Mars and back. You can travel through time. You can live in an alternate universe. You can see things through the eyes of someone else.
Reading fiction is a great thought experiment. And a great use of imagination as well as visceral experience.
It’s a great way to boost creativity thinking. And analytical thinking. And more.
So this week, I’d love to hear what is on your fiction summer reading list?
Here are a few books from my stack (Amazon affiliate links). Again, I’m sharing from the unread stack to show you what I have on deck so far this summer. Two are recommendations and one simply jumped off the shelf at me.
What are you reading or planning to read this summer? Please let me know!