Is there a certain "level of how literate" you are and what's the point of reading fiction?

As much as I like reading I’ve realized that I’ve actually read very little throughout my whole life.This doesn’t count stuff that’s obligatory for school b/c they always give out enough work as it is and then some -_-.Most of my knowledge on literature and pop culture comes from word of mouth and in the past half decade explanations from sties like wikipedia,tvtropes and others.

As a matter of fact in Canada there is a literacy test that every high schooler in grade 10 has to pass in order to graduate.You need to get 300/400 to pass and if they fail once they get a retry and if they fail that they’ve got to take a literacy course.I failed a literacy test my first time around and even though this was in part due to being distracted by a girl who at the time I had a crush on and it was coincidentally her birthday.Due to that I didn’t have enough time to finish an essay question at the back which had I finished it would have probably meant I’d pass the first time around.By regardless of getting sidetracked by that I still feel ashamed in how I should have been able to pass even with a distraction.What complicates this even more is how recently about a year ago I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome that I’ve apparently had my whole life.All this considered could I still make it as a technical writer or a fiction writer even?.

However since I mentioned the topic of fictional prose it makes feel like asking what exactly is the point of reading fiction?.Am I always suppose to a/o is it “better” if you intrepret the sub-text in fictional stories regardless of what it is? (like if it’s just a run of the mill Del Rey published paperback sci-fi or fantasy novel).How is it different from reading non fiction that isn’t really based on facts? (ex.philosophy).

Could reading more like visual forms of fiction (ex.comics books and manga) ever be as intellectually adequete as reading a novel?.If it is,it’s not like I’ll do that more (I kind of do it enough and gotta supplement myself with fiction prose IMO) but if it’s not,why and how so?.By the way if reading graphic novels is not as good as reading novels then I’m guilty of that:D.I’ve got novels in mind to read and I dont mind reading novels but haven’t gotten around it mainly because of how comic books and manga appeal to me for sentimental reasons that can be traced back to my toddler-hood.Just to say for most of my life I’ve been more inclined to non-fiction and also IMO writing on forums like these have definately helped my writing skills at least:p.

Becoming culturally literate in today’s world includes knowledge of graphic novels (especially the works of Art Spiegelman (Maus) and Frank Miller (Sin City, The 300, Batman, etc.) but not all graphic novels rise to the level of literature, and the old standbys (Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Grimm’s Faery Tales, and all of the Penguin Classics, which are too numerous to list) are still essential.

In addition to reading the classics, travel to Europe, and become fluent in at least one second language. (French is a good choice for Canadians, of course!) The contrast between our culture and another culture will bring clarity and cause the unique features of our culture to stand out. :slight_smile:


When I watch who wants to be a millionaire, I can answer the questions before the options, even up to the most difficult ones.


If there is a very easy question about a soap or a singer or an actor, I have a tiny chance of answering it.

I think it just matters what areas you are good at.

I practically left school at 12 but I read many books before then.

… what exactly is the point of reading fiction?.Am I always suppose to a/o is it “better” if you intrepret the sub-text in fictional stories regardless of what it is? (like if it’s just a run of the mill Del Rey published paperback sci-fi or fantasy novel).How is it different from reading non fiction that isn’t really based on facts? (ex.philosophy).

Wow, you don’t ask for much, do you? :slight_smile:

If you enjoy comics, you already know the point of fiction: Fiction is a story that is not factually true, presented for entertainment and not as a lie. Fiction allows us to explore human nature, amazing adventures, possible and impossible worlds, and so on.

You probably know some of the reasons you study fiction in school, if you think about it: to understand the conventions, to become familiar with certain works and writers that are important to our civilization, and to widen your knowledge of human nature a bit. (And of course every subject you study in school or out of it stimulates your brain and increases its number of neural connections. There’s really no useless subject.)

Re: subtext, theme, and other story construction tools, it’s nice to know a few of the writer’s tricks of the trade, just as it’s nice to know about shading and color blending and composition if you’re learning about art.

Re: being able to “close read” enough to detect said tricks is another thing. Even and especially if you read nonfiction, you need to be able to detect writer bias and the nonfiction tricks of the trade, so that you’ll notice if the writer is being very clever and beautiful in his writing, or trying to trick you (or himself) by covering up muddy thinking. Close reading is also very useful for a deeper understanding of the Bible; in fact, close reading is what many centuries of Bible commentaries have used as a primary tool for understanding God’s Word.

“Subtext” that allegedly about the writer’s attractions to either sex, political views, etc. is a various dubious thing to discover in a work, however. Sometimes it’s really there, and sometimes it’s just the reader making stuff up to amuse himself. Regard such pronouncements by a teacher or professor with skepticism.

My advice to you is to read whatever you like for pleasure, but include some of the pleasures of exploring what is new to you. And since fiction is largely new to you, you have a great deal open to explore. Don’t worry too much about what fiction is “good” for you; figure out what’s out there first.

Expect your tastes to change somewhat as you get older. For example, when I was in high school and college, I thought Austen was a very austere writer. As I grew older, I began to see that she was writing very funny, very pointed books, and I just hadn’t been ready for them yet. Some fiction you will never like, even if all your friends love it; some fiction you will love right away and forever, no matter what other people think of it. It’s just the way things go.

If you mention which comics you like, we might be able to recommend some novels or short stories for you.

Being in the military service and serving in other countries, such as Morocco and Viet Nam, was a real eye-opener as far as seeing other cultures and bringing out the unique features of our American culture, at least as it was 40 years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t become fluent in any other language other than my own midwestern English:shrug:

I can imagine. :slight_smile:

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