21 August 2011

Food for Thought

My friend Sue posted this on facebook a few weeks ago. (maybe months - can't remember) I've been holding on to it because it presents an interesting point for discussion.
We need an antidote to the "alpha male involved with spirited blonde heroine" story. It's like eating junk food in almost every sense of the word. Why eat crap of a vending machine when there are tiny chocolate cakes and strawberry flans and fresh cherries and warm honey-dip donuts in the world? I guess a lot of people just don't care what they put in their mouths. – Sue E.
What do you think? Is there a place for 'junk food' in reading or are we just filling our minds with 'empty calories'? I have another friend who believes that these books are to blame for a lot of stalker situations. She thinks they teach that a woman may say no but if the guy keeps at her she'll change her mind. Does she have a point? Maybe.

My in-laws refuse to read fiction unless it is based in fact. Their stance is that all fiction is 'empty calories' for the brain and that any book worth reading must teach the reader something of 'the real world'. If I talk about a great book I've read and they find out it is fiction they just refuse to listen any more - not interested. They read a LOT of non-fiction. Do they have a point? Are we wasting our time with fiction?

I have always believed that all books have value. We learn to write by reading which helps with school and work. Our vocabulary increases. Our imagination is challenged and we develop the ability to think outside the box. And of course we de-stress.

I'd love to hear your opinion on these things. Comment?


  1. I think most of what people say is nonsense. I sure can keep reality and fiction separate. if a guy acts like so many alpha jerks in books I would kick him in the nuts.

    And we need fiction because in our stressful world we need to escape or we will just burn out

  2. I have asked myself this question many times, particularly after I read a really badly written book. But then I think about all the other great books I have read. Appreciating good fiction is like appreciating good art, right?

  3. I would hope it is possible to de-stress while at the same time pushing our boundaries a little bit. (After all, a change is as good as a rest, as my grandma always used to say). I stopped reading "women's" magazines along time ago as well as most books written by men - couldn't stand that even good ideas and wonderful writing STILL had cookie-cutter female characters, all melon-breasted, tiny-waisted, white chicks while the male characters got to look like...real people. I love fiction, it's what I read most. I want to read something more interesting than endless retellings of Beauty and the Beast, however.

  4. In addition to the points you've made in support of reading I think that books of a variety of genres and calibers are valuable in that some make us think, some expand our horizons, some make us recognize ourselves in the characters and see our own problems from a different perspective and of course some just take our minds off the daily grind and provide an escape. If a book is well-written it doesn't matter to me if it's something high-brow or pulp, they both have their value. As far as fiction vs. non-fiction is concerned: I prefer fiction because oftentimes a story that's fictional is more honest that an admittedly non-fictional account of the events. It's more liberating to not have real people looking over your shoulder, making you worry about all those who are going to be after you if you tell the real truth.
    My father is one of those who prefer non-fiction to fiction. Or used to be, should I say. He's been gradually dipping into fiction as of late and seems to be enjoying it tremendously. He even texted me after finishing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to tell me how much he loved it. I think your in-laws just may not have found "their" fiction yet and think that it's all just fluff.

  5. I agree with you that all books have value - some just value them more than others - but there is some pretty badly written fiction out there, and when it comes to love stories, I do think there are way to many "alpha male involved with spirited blonde heroine" and there needs to be more unconventional heroines, people like you and me. I would love to see a short, mousy-brown-haired, grumpy tom-boy who can drink these so-called "alpha males" under the table be the heroine for once. In saying that though, if it's written brilliantly like Paullina Simons' The Bronze Horseman trilogy - which features a fragile blonde beauty as the heroine and a handsomely arrogant alpha male who never gives up until he gets what e wants.

  6. Just like junk food I think nonsense fiction is fine once and awhile. When I say nonsense fiction I mean silly light fluffy reads. Most fiction does not fall in that category. There is almost always something to take away from fiction. Lessons to learn. Laughter and stress relief to be had. I feel bad for strict non-fiction readers. But that's OK, I'm sure they feel bad for me for being a fiction reader. ;)

  7. Great discussion. I am loving reading your responses.

  8. I try not to eat too many empty calories when it comes to my food so I feel free to have it in my books. I will read what I want (I do what I want). Essentially I read because I want to be happy so I will read what will make me happy. I understand other people stances but it just isn't me.

    As for the stalker stuff... Usually those books are target toward males. They are targeted to women. Therefore I don't think it gives men the wrong message. I also think this could be said about all of the gory movies out there.

  9. Fiction is very often set in the 'real world' even if the characters aren't quite real themselves. That is not to say that dystopian or paranormal fantasies are worthless.I believe that you can take away something from every book you read. I entirely agree with you there.


Here's your chance to voice your opinion. We all have them. I'd love to hear yours. I try to respond to all comments so please check back if you are interested in that.