Books · Random

I feel guilty while reading fiction?

Hey, y’all. I hope you’re having a wonderful day. I admit I’ve been MIA, and the reason for my absence this time is the fact that I got sick and I was in the hospital, and I got diagnosed with endometriosis (the stage is still unknown and I might have to get surgery soon…which is bad news ’cause I just had another surgery last year so I’m so not in mood for another one!!!!). I also haven’t been able to accept/wrap my head around my diagnosis yet. It’s gonna be a hell lot of work.

The last few days have been very, extremely overwhelming — I’m sorry about disappearing every time. I feel guilty for posting 4 times a month and liking posts three or four times and then just dropping off the face of the earth. I’ll reply to the comments soon. I’m so behind on reading blog posts and books and doing tags. Thank you for reading my posts. Thank you for following my blog. Thank you for liking and commenting — I’ll get back to you and you folks make my day! ❤

Anyway, so before I got this diagnosis I was pretty sick, so I decided to pick up a book and read. I picked up my favorite books — I haven’t talked about my new favorites here but I absolutely adored Tweet Cute and I’ll post the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag soon where you can find what I liked and what I didn’t like this year — and decided to read them. And I couldn’t. It made me realize that my relationship with books and reading has changed. In fact, it has been constantly evolving.

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One of the things that I’ve noticed this year is that I have read 7 non-fiction books so far in 2020, and I’m going to read more of them! I didn’t read non-fiction before, then what changed in 2020 that I picked up 7 of them so far?

I think I do have an answer to this question, and that is the guilt associated with reading stories that are not real.

→ I’m not saying that reading fiction is bad. In fact, I believe reading fiction in the last two years has made me better, more empathetic, and kinder. I have come to understand people’s stories in a way I didn’t before. I can put myself in their shoes now, which I don’t think I did before. I perhaps didn’t even believe those stories before as I do now, because I hadn’t witnessed them with my own eyes. Now that I’ve read their stories (that’s why stories by ownvoices authors are so important), I know that they’re valid and are just as unique as mine. ❤

→ Reading fiction hasn’t just helped me understand those stories, it has also given me my self-esteem. I’m somebody who didn’t have a lot of good role models growing up. But reading fiction gave me the role models who I believe are right. They’re not just those authors but fictional characters. As a teenager, I struggled with my body image and self-confidence. I was an excellent student in school, but that’s the only thing I was confident about. I used to think I was “ugly” because I was estimating my worth by society’s scale. I used to feel it was wrong, but I did not know I had the voice to say that and I know it now. And that’s why I’m grateful to those people who have made me feel confident in my skin and who have made me develop a voice. And a lot of those people are fictional characters — like Charlie and Mara from Girl Made of Stars, and Xiomara from The Poet X.

However, despite learning so much from the books and finding role models in these fictional characters, I find it difficult to just pick up a book if I’m not learning something from it these days. I feel guilty. I feel like I could be doing so much work that’s productive instead of reading, because reading is just entertainment???. I know that’s not true, but I kinda feel like this and I end up scrolling through Instagram and watching the same old food videos instead of picking up a book and exercising my brain or just picking up a book and enjoying the story and having fun.

I know that some of it has been Twitter’s doing. Of course I’m not blaming the whole Twitter application for something I feel lol. Don’t come at me for saying this… I used to spend some time on Twitter before, and y’know what, it is a toxic platform. I still loved it though, because my fellow book bloggers were super supportive there, and always had my back. It was nice to be a part of Book Twitter, and I might go back — it also takes hell loads of time and college doesn’t let me give it what it demands — but there were always tweets in my feed that seemed super… unhealthy?? Like, people tweeting about how we should stop reading young adult fiction just because we’re adults. Ha-ha. Joke’s on them cos I’m still a teenager in my brain. And even on Reddit, sometimes people would just say that if you’re reading 50 fictional stories in 6 months, you’re not being productive, ’cause you need to read non-fiction to be productive and to learn. (Maybe my definition of productive doesn’t need to agree with theirs!)

Honestly, I dislike this idea personally: Non-fiction is not something I would read for fun. Of course I know some people learn facts for fun, but I would rather read a funny story about mice for leisure. But I think I kind of internalized those things and… read non-fiction? Because I feel guilty reading a book that’s just a love story? Because that has no value other than entertainment?

But I know that fiction has taught me more than non-fiction (I know that textbooks have taught me stuff, but if I’m given a choice to read a book about the war of 1812, and a love story around that time that also talks about the war, I would pick up the love story and not read the textbook at all, and if I wouldn’t read it, I wouldn’t know the war of 1812 at all — you get it, right? I know it wasn’t a good example, but it’s my example nonetheless ha-ha).

Even though I kind of internalized the feeling that reading fiction is not valuable –I’m working on getting rid of it but I’m glad I’m reading non-fic too–, I believe we should not shame people for what they read, because as I already said, fiction teaches us empathy, kindness, and gives us an understanding of other people’s lives. It gives us perspectives that are different from ours. And even if it doesn’t do that, it makes us feel happy. It gives us joy. It probably is the reason for some of us to get up from the bed in the morning. And even if you’re just reading to kill time, you don’t deserve to be told to read something else because fiction doesn’t have “value” and is “not productive”. Even if you don’t learn anything all the time — it’s impossible, I believe– and read it just for the sake of reading it, just do it.

Anyway, that’s something I’ve been grappling with in the last few days. I would like to hear from you guys about the same thing.

Have you felt guilty about reading fiction? What are your thoughts about it?

PS: I was also looking for books with characters who have endometriosis… And is it just me or is there actually a striking absence of it in English language literature??? I only found non-fiction related to it? Do you know books that have characters with endometriosis?

35 thoughts on “I feel guilty while reading fiction?

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Nikita. I hope the surgery goes well 🙂

    This is a great discussion. I used to read a lot of non-fiction as a child, but fiction has certainly taken over now and I just love discovering stories. Also I agree, own voices novels are so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Stephen! I’m hoping that too. 🧡

      I love discovering stories as well, and I believe they teach me more (and are more entertaining ofc) than non-fiction.
      YES! They’re SO VERY important!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. so sorry to hear about your diagnosis! I hope surgery goes well and you feel better soon. I don’t read many non-fictions and I don’t regret reading fictions only. I know they are not real story but one cannot say they are entirely unrealistic. There are things some layers that are taken from real life, that we see happening to somebody not in exact way but somewhat similar and they give better perspective and we learn so many things from fictions. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Yesha! 🧡 I don’t read a lot of non-fic either but the guilt I felt while reading fiction was unbearable and I had to write this post. I totally agree with you — fiction is not entirely unrealistic and we learn a lot from it. In fact, I’ve learned more from fiction than from non-fiction (as I barely ever read it before lol). And fiction gives me comfort as well.

      Thank you. 🧡🧡

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear about your health problem and don’t put pressure on yourself trying to keep up with other people’s blog posts – dip in and out when you feel like it! As for reading fiction or non-fiction, I reckon you should pick up whatever book takes your fancy at the time – sometimes I think it’s too easy to forget that reading is an enjoyable hobby for our spare time. Not everything has to be educational or worthy… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! You’re kind. 🧡 I agree with you — sometimes we forget that we read just because we love to read. Even though I’m struggling with it, I’m trying to pick up some of my favorite books because they give me joy and comfort. I will read non-fiction, but I can’t live without fiction lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis!
    I feel you about Twitter and the shaming… just shaming about everything. I don’t understand the point of it. People will read what they want to read… why should be people tell others that what they’re reading isn’t for them, how do you know? I’ve honestly been thinking of taking a Twitter break to just decompress from it all.
    I hope you’re doing alright! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that’s exactly why I decided to take a break from Twitter. I might go back because sometimes it feels weird not being in the loop lol, but I’m so glad I’m not there because of shaming and judgments. I agree with you — we don’t have the right to tell other people what they should read and what they shouldn’t.

      I’m doing better. I hope you’re having a beautiful day. 🧡

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right?! The FOMO is real haha! It’s also where I hear about everything so it makes it so hard to step away from it.
        I know; it’s like the fact that you say you like something on Twitter and the world wants to just hate on it all. 😩
        That’s good to hear! Thank you, I hope you are too! 💞

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Living with a chronic health issue is difficult and means ups and downs. I know from my own experience with 3 chronic illnesses. Please give yourself some grace. Take care of yourself. Blog when you can and don’t worry about the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying this! It means a lot to me. I agree — it does have its ups and downs, and even though the last few days have been hard, I’m trying to bounce back.🧡 I hope you’re doing well and having a beautiful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope the surgery and treatment go well, hun! Sending you all my positive thoughts. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I wish you to stay strong and hopefully supported by the people closest to you (and of course by this community) ❤

    That is such an interesting discussion! I just read #GIRLBOSS this weekend and had the same thought. I've been reading so much fiction is the past couple of years, only picking up nonfic here and there (more this year due to bar exams, but I don't really count law books as nonfic 😀 ).

    I wonder how much more I could have learned in my area of work or even blog related if I picked up more nonfic. I don't think I'll ever give up on fiction though, as we do learn quite a lot from the stories we read, and I just can't picture my life without fantasy books. But I definitely want to make a goal (and stick with it for once) to read at least one nonfic book per month, to keep learning and growing, even when I'm no longer studying to exams. Probably that's why I'm already searching for another course to take ones my exams are over 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Alex! 🧡 It really means a lot to me, and the book blogging community has always been super supportive of everything I’ve shared here! 💜

      Ah, honestly I think about the same thing sometimes and that’s what led to me writing this post lol (obviously). I didn’t read a lot of non-fiction (other than my history books and they don’t count lol, just like your law books). And that’s exactly what I was wondering about.

      I wouldn’t give up on fiction either — it’s fun. It’s exciting. And it has taught me way too many things even though I thought I wasn’t learning anything. And YES, life without those books is unimaginable for me as well. But I do wanna read more non-fic just like you, to make myself a more knowledgeable person.

      Good luck with your exams btw! 💙🧡

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope the surgery goes well, and I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis.
    It’s really to see how your reading has changed, with non-fiction and just overall.
    Although, I’d say read whatever makes you happy! Not everything has to be educational. Reading is fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Aria! 🧡 Yes, I’d been thinking about it a lot and I had to talk about it here. I agree with you! Reading can be just for fun without any judgments and shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Nikita.. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope the surgery goes well. I did miss you here and now I know the reason for your absence. Take care and don’t let the internet take your peace and recovery time away☺️🤗 Sending you a big virtual get well soon hug!

    I’m glad you wrote this post and I’m glad I’m not on Twitter. Last month I even deactivated my Facebook account because yes, the internet judgement from strangers was getting a little overwhelming. But one can’t escape judgments apparently because just a month back, my husband chided me saying yeah you read 5 books a month, but that’s not reading really, since it’s all fantasy and YA🙄 He realised his blunder the minute those words slipped out of his mouth but it was done and I know a lot of people who feel that way. Funny thing is, I do read non fiction and classics or literary fiction from time to time as well. At least two books in a quarter. It just doesn’t form the majority of my reading.

    I do feel it’s the age old debate between heart and mind. Fiction to me is the heart and non fiction, the mind. Sometimes even fiction is written over real facts and I absolutely love those because I truly feel I’ve learned more about WW2, the Holocaust, the issues and struggles arising from slavery, racism, class and society/caste based discrimination in my own country, discrimination based on religion, the problems women face in the middle eastern countries , reading fiction instead of the news. 🙂
    So I thought to myself a long time back, I’ll read what I want and feed my brain and heart accordingly to make myself a well rounded person instead of a robot or just a mushy puppy☺️ And I won’t let others decide my reading life

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Prachi. It means a lot to me. *hugs back* ❤
      I deleted my Facebook account too and I stopped using Twitter and almost every social networking site just because of this. So I totally understand what you're saying and I agree with you.
      Oops, that's bad haha. I've been struggling with it a lot lately and that's the only reason I picked up non-fiction, which I've *almost* never read before. You summed it up really excellently… that's exactly what I feel — it really is an age-old debate between heart and mind. I agree — I've learned way too many things from fiction, so I believe it's important to keep reading it while reading/even if you're reading non-fiction from time to time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis, Nikita! I hope the surgery will be smooth if you really need it and you’ll be all right soon ❤

    I feel guilty about reading fiction, too. Especially romance! As you said, I still learn a lot but then I read about a character that read the whole library worth of book on astrophysics for example and I'm like 'what am I even doing with my life??' But then I remember that so many non-fiction books are written in jargon and it always takes me AGES to get through them or when I find the easy ones it's what I already know and I just give up… I wish I had some mentor who would give me the non-fiction books that interest me and are written in an approachable way AND tell me that those 20 romcoms I've read are valid as well lmao.

    Take care & get well soon!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, E. 🧡🧡 Ah, I feel the same way about reading romance — I don’t read a lot of it and that’s the only reason, even though I know I love the genre?? And OMG what!!! Yeah, a lot of non-fiction is written in jargon and that is certainly a hindrance. The non-fic I’ve read so far are super easy lol, even though I bought a few on Kindle that will actually make me learn some cool stuff lol. And lemme tell you, all of the romcoms you read ARE VALID AF!!!!

      Ahh, thank you! I hope you’re having an awesome day! 🧡🧡

      Liked by 1 person

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