What's the point of fiction?

By Stephen Pollard
July 25, 2008

There's a slightly odd feature in the Guardian about 'reader's block'. I can't say I understand what they're on about. I read books, and have never wanted not to.

But I did like the response of Germaine Greer in the accompanying feature. I never thought I'd write this, but: I feel exactly the same as Germaine Greer.

Have you experienced reader's block?
It's just a different world. I read all the time; I can't stop reading. It might apply to my assistant, but she is on holiday, so she is probably reading like mad.

Could you recommend a book to get people reading again?
Oh God, I don't read novels! Why do people think that reading a book means reading a fucking novel? You finish reading the book and you think "Well, that's over. There's four hours down the drain." At least in non-fiction you might pick up some information you can trust. My whole world is built out of books, but they aren't Booker prize-winners, which I frankly always think are overrated.

I don't read novels either. (Well, maybe one or two a year, usually for research into something.) I've never seen the point of them.

Yes, I know it's me who's losing out from some of the planet's greatest literature, and I would never dream of urging others not to read them if they enjoy them. It's just that I have no desire to read fiction, so I don't. And, like Germaine Greer. when I do, at the end I always think I've wasted my time.

We all have blind spots. What's yours?


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