Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Pan Macmillan

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

‘Fiction is like exercise for the mind’ – Alex van Tonder

This One TimeAlex van Tonder, a South African celebrity blogger and advertising creative whose debut novel This One Time was released last year, has written a piece around the question, “Why Read Fiction?”

Van Tonder says the phrase, “Yeah, I don’t really read much fiction” is something she hears a lot, and admits it is not a surprising statement these days, when checking Facebook and Instagram are easier options.

But, she insists, there are “a few good reasons to make a point of reading fiction”.

Read the article:

“But I’m too busy. I have too much real-world stuff to deal with.”

This is usually the excuse for not reading fiction. It’s a similar excuse many make not to exercise. And there are parallels. Fiction is like exercise for the mind: it poses hypothetical situations and – without telling you how to think – allows you to grow intellectually and emotionally, because you draw your own conclusions about right and wrong. It helps you develop empathy and imagination, by helping you understand different points of view. Through empathy it challenges ideas you may have had about the status quo, and it broadens your mind. It allows you to understand people and places that aren’t familiar to you. It also helps you realise that whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone in the world. And most importantly, it encourages dreaming. In a world where everything seems to be going wrong, stories, dreaming and empathy seem more important now than ever before. We need to cultivate a spiritual and empathetic fitness if we are – all fifteen billion of us – going to figure out a way to live in relative peace together on this planet.

Book details


Please register or log in to comment