Let’s circle back to a subject I touched on last week – folks who consider reading fiction to be a waste of time.

Although the person to whom I alluded in last week’s post is fictional, actual human beings share his opinion.

That perplexes me.

To be clear, people can read – or not read – whatever they want. Indeed, one of my besties isn’t a reader. Another bestie wants to read more for pleasure, but the volume she has to read for continuing education prevents her from doing so. Another friend says nonfiction bores her.

As for me, I enjoy fiction and nonfiction. But whilst there is no right or wrong genre or subject to read, I needed to know more about these people who consider fiction a waste of time. For example, do they watch scripted TV and movies or do they stick with documentaries and educational programs? Because if a novel is a waste, then wouldn’t a scripted film or TV show also be a waste?

And what about serious literature like the classics? Are they a waste of time?

It turns out that there are essays, blog posts, and discussion board threads devoted to this subject.

This could have been true only for the sites I stumbled across, but I detected a theme among the fiction-is-a-time-waster folks. Although they read other types of books, they claim reading fiction is just too much of an investment of their time.

I asked myself, “Self, how long does it take these slowpokes to read a book?” Afterall, I can legit zip through a book in four or five hours. But more than one of them admitted that when they read fiction, it’s fantasy epics.

I’ve identified their problem.

Well, one of them. Anyway, perhaps they should branch out and explore books that could not be used as weapons.

The fiction haters I encountered also tout self-help books.

Oh, expletive no.

I want to make two things clear. I have learned more about myself and grown more as a person through some works of fiction and non-fiction than I could have from any self-help book. In fact, the general criticism against fiction is that it doesn’t teach the reader anything. It just entertains us. Firstly, what’s wrong with being entertained? Secondly, this reader learns from fiction all the time.

Also, if you ever recommend that I read a self-help book, just know that I will only do so if you give me the book free of charge and pay me more than minimum wage to read it. Except for one time, I have only read self-help books when required for work. The exception occurred when I started a book without realizing it was self-help. As soon as I realized my mistake, I downloaded another book.

One that didn’t waste my time.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.