3 Quotes in 3 Days Challenge: Day 3
“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” — Tom Wolfe
My first reaction to this quote is to disagree with it. Because if I started reading a nonfiction book on self-publishing (for example), and I found the author’s introduction — and the stated or implied promises within — to be implausible, I probably wouldn’t keep reading it.
Or I might keep reading, but with doubt lingering in my mind, waiting for a line that would finally convince me that the author must be delusional or lying.
Can you think of a nonfiction book you’ve read that promised or related something that you considered implausible?
In some cases, what you read in a particular non-fiction book may sound implausible but may still be true.
The example that come to my mind immediately is the Bible. Someone approaching the Bible with nothing more than curiosity may well find plenty between its covers implausible. I know that I’ve read it at times with a confrontational mindset, questioning everything that sounded implausible to me.
I now try to remember to ask the book’s author — the Holy Spirit — to help me as I read His book, to gently illuminate my mind, and to remind me that I can’t hope to understand His words if I read through the lens of pride and of over-dependence on my own intellect.
God gave us minds to think, but they work so much better when aligned with His.
When we’re reading an argument written by someone else, we understand it better when we bother to see the argument from the other person’s perspective. We allow ourselves to see it through the other person’s lens, which involves risk.
It doesn’t mean we have to agree with the other person’s argument, but it helps us to avoid countering it in a way that fails to address its essential points.
(Which leaves them pulling their hair out and saying, “That’s not what I was saying at all! You’re not paying attention!”)
Does any of this sound familiar?
Now, back to non-fiction books, most of which are written by people you don’t know, can you think of one you bought that made you think, “Oh, I doubt that”?
The last time you had to choose between two or more nonfiction books, did you pick one that said something implausible, or did you choose one that made claims you found more plausible?
Are books that say implausible things more tantalizing to you — or in general — than those that don’t?
Are we conditioned to want to take risks that will expose our own doubts as unrealistic or limiting?