For those who read for pleasure, finding time to engage with a book can be difficult to fit into a day filled with endless tasks: Work, exercise, kids’ activities and chores take up most of our time; fitting in one good book can mean sacrificing another.
Fiction offers the option of escape, but for many people, particularly those who read this site, there’s also a sense that what you read should help make you a better person — it should give you a productivity tip or two, impart new knowledge or tell you how to maximise your time. There are just a lot of good books out there.
How can you balance the two? I like this suggestion from Reese Witherspoon’s recent By the Book interview in The New York Times:
I like to read nonfiction, or “ideas” books in the morning — Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit,” things like that. At night, I read fiction to calm down my brain and to expand my sense of what’s possible. What I look for most are elegantly composed sentences that pull me into a different world.
This isn’t, of course, to suggest that you don’t learn anything from fiction, but if you commute via bus or train, reading nonfiction books can help you get into the right headspace for your workday.
At night, when you’ve completed what you needed to for the day, you can relax with a good novel or fiction book and transport yourself to another world, which seems like a rather nice way to drift off to sleep.