There was a time, and not so long ago that some old fashioned and narrowly religious people who actually condemned novel reading as wrong. They argued that novels were made-up stories, and so reading them was reading lies! But I don’t think that there are any of these queer folks left now. So, we don’t need to bother about their opinions. But there are not a few who condemn novel reading on the ground that it is a waste of time which would be better used in reading serious books.
Why is novel reading good?
Of course, there are novels and novels. There is a huge demand for fiction nowadays that some writers are writing and publishing plenty of trashy novels, and read by the half-educated. A trashy novel is one that is badly written, badly constructed, and untrue to life. The reading of such poor stuff must certainly be condemned. It is more than a waste of time; for it has positively harmful effects upon the readers in vitiating their taste, making them unable to appreciate really good work.
There is no need to waste one’s time on reading the second best when there is so much of the best available. If you read novels on a regular basis, then try to choose out the best you can find; novels written by masters of the art of storytelling. Great novelists are first, masters of style, they know how to construct a plot that will hold the interest to the end. Thirdly, they have a keen knowledge of human nature. And they possess the creative power of making natural and living characters that seem like real people.
Lastly, they have a knowledge of life that enables them to make a fictional story true to the life we know. In fact, I would say that a decent novel is a picture of some part of our life; and the reading of high-class fiction enlarges our knowledge of human life and human nature. Novel reading, therefore, provided that really good novels are read, is part of one’s education.
Novel reading should, however, be kept in its place. After all, it is only a form of recreation and amusement. To read nothing but novels would be a great mistake. Time should be found for reading serious books as well. Too much novel reading can incapacitate one from reading anything more solid. It may become like drug-taking; the more you take the more you want, and the less you want wholesome food.