Now I'm not knocking nonfiction. Nonfiction is important and gives us valuable information from history to gardening.
But that's not the nonfiction that these men try pushing on me. After I'm given advice on marketing a book these men tell me that they learned this all from _____(insert pop-self help book here)_____. There's always one making the rounds. Basically look up anything by Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, or a Navy SEAL. These are all aimed at making you better. And yet, they don't.
Stories are scientifically important.
Primarily literary fiction ("Literary fiction is more character-driven and less concerned with a fast-paced plot than genre fiction") helps us feel more human. The Great Gatsby, Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird are the blaring examples of literary fiction.
We can look at TV for examples.
The Brave is the fast paced action show that has us follow a team of elite super special operators on their super secret world saving missions.
This is us is the drama about two parents that had three kids and the lives of the kids as adults.
Okay, lets be honest. Which one sounds more interesting? Explosions and bullets, or regular people? Especially to me, someone that most people think is an emotional void?
And yet, I believe that This Is Us is the best TV show in a long time. And The Brave is, meh, I'll catch up on it when I can.
So what's the difference? The brave has decent characters. A mother struggling with the loss of her son. A woman in an all male profession. A man seemingly fighting against his own people.
The characters in This Is Us make us feel human. When Jack and Rebecca have a melt-down no holds barred screaming match, we can relate. But when Captain Dalton hears his female operator get captured by Iranians we go, that sucks. And move on.
And that is the power of literary fiction.
Gatsby can't move on from his dream of repeating the past. I don't think there is a single person on earth that hasn't wished for a repeat or a do over.
But when Harry Potter discovers his parents left him millions of gold coins locked in a magic vault opened by a key guarded by a magic hairy guy?
This can't happen. I'm not saying that it doesn't whisk us away from our reality. I'm not saying that it isn't important to ignite our imagination. But it doesn't link us with our emotions like literary fiction.
I think more men would benefit from more literature and less motivational garbage. Finding the ability to unlock empathy is more important than searching for that one or seven not so secret steps to success.
Thanks for reading. Check out a literary masterpiece below. Okay, maybe not, but check it out no matter what.