A late night discussion with my brother gave me some food for thought about the differences between Fiction and Non-Fiction books. Well it is just polite to cite them just as ‘differences’ because what they are are South Pole and North Pole where the distance between them is almost unnavigable, as believed by many.
I began as a hard-core Fiction reader (which I still am) but am slowly beginning to realise that non-fiction is not ‘uninteresting’, ‘boring’ or ‘unreadable’ – as is the myth. But what the avid fiction readers say about non-fiction is that it is ‘heavy’ on them but what they really mean is that is easier read when you know it’s not for real in contrast to when you know that some thing this bad can happen for real.
A non-fiction book I plan to read this summer is ‘The Discovery of India’. But I fail to overlook the irony in the title. What non-fiction readers many times boast is the fact that what they read is factual and entirely based on truth ‘as it is’ and not ‘tampered’ by the writing or perception of the writer. But books like ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ (fiction) have a deep relation with reality but are wrapped in a heartwarming story sadly true for most. Now, coming back to the title of ‘The Discovery of India’, Jawaharlal Nehru could have used any other title for this master piece that is woven in reality and hard-hitting facts but what he chose is a reflection to what he wants to convey to the readers. The book tells about a land and how it became India. Both these books, both an epitome of fiction and non-fiction invariably point out the issues (about women in Afghanistan) and reality (and history of India).
The fact of the matter is the destination of both fiction and non-fiction is an idea which is conveyed through two paths so different that they almost seem unrelated.
Therefore, from last night the line between ‘Reading fiction and non-fiction’ is getting blurred for me because I had a realisation that whether a book is a work of fiction or non-fiction, it should not keep me from reading it unless and until it conveys the idea and knowledge about things. The most Fictitious work like the Harry Potter series can sometimes teach a child better about friendship and virtues like courage than any real story ever. On similar lines, you might not feel motivational or positive as promised at the beginning of that self-help book.
Both fiction and non-fiction are part of a reality. I say so because they both are meant to convey a message or describe a phenomenon. Message about love, peace, discovery, science, history, politics, commerce, etc and description about a wizarding world, life in another planet, etc. Of all the things I mentioned I can think of at least one work of fiction and non-fiction on each one of them. Everybody wants a bit of luck in their life, a bit of magic;luck for their favourite sports teams and players and magic to find love for themselves. If their team wins it becomes a fact. But when a person’s dream of becoming a writer is shattered long before it is realised and written about in a novel, it might be fiction to the rest of the world but very much a reality for that person.
So not all is fiction to everyone, but some things are fantasy to all. What is important is not whether one reads fiction or not but does it affect you at all? What is supreme is an idea gained and how we chose to develop it, nurture it for the better, for the best.