I've started reading science fiction again lately. I used to read tons of the stuff, all through high school and well into my thirties. About ten years ago I kind of lost interest and haven't read much of it since. But the other day I was in the Iliad used book store in North Hollywood and they had a couple hundred of the kinds of titles I used to devour all for about $2 a piece. So I bought some and took 'em home and started reading. I'd forgotten how fun some of that hogwash can be.
Which brings me to a couple questions that I get asked from time to time. Every so often a writer with aspirations to Buddhist practice will write and ask me if I think it's OK that he (it's always been guys so far) writes fiction. I don't know why they think they need my approval. But I always say it's fine with me. The word "fiction" doesn't mean lying (although I think Robert A. Heinlein in Stranger In A Strange Land has a Martian character who believes that). There are areas of the human condition that are very hard to describe in any other way than in a work of fiction. A work of fiction can often be far more truthful than a work of non-fiction. Shee-oot. I was in a Buddhist book shop the other day and I'd say at least 90% of the books in there weren't just fiction or even science fiction. They were works of pure unadulterated fantasy being pawned off as "spirituality." I'd much rather see truthful fiction than that kind of codswallop.
The other question I get, semi-related to this, is whether I, as a writer, think it's OK to take books out from the library rather than buying them. I take books out of the library all the time myself so I often ponder this one. Yeah, as a writer I'd rather you buy my books. But I know not everyone can afford to buy books and lots of people are far more voracious readers than their wallets could handle if they had to buy everything they wanted to read. Some people, like me, will take books out of the library and, if they like them, buy them even though they've already read them, just to support the writers. So libraries are OK by me. Anyway, libraries buy the books too.
When I lived in Japan libraries weren't really an option. In fact one of the main reasons I learned to read Japanese was because I wanted to stop spending so much money ordering books from Amazon. If I could check the Japanese editions out of the library it'd be so much cheaper.
It's a good thing to support writers you like by buying their books. It's also good to support book stores you like by buying those books from the shops even if it means paying a little more. You're paying that little bit extra to keep that book store open in your community. I don't have anything against Amazon. I like them a lot, in fact. But book stores have it tough these days. I always try and support them when I can.
So write fiction and buy fiction (or non-fiction, or pop-up books, or whatever).