Where "work of fiction" means "fictional story" or "fictional narrative", not strictly "written work of fiction".

Consider a work of fiction, x. I am looking for a single verb, y, such that:

  • If x is a novel, then "I y x" means "I read x."
  • If x is a movie, then "I y x" means "I watch x."
  • If x is a song, then "I y x means "I listen to x."
  • If x is a game, then "I y x means "I play x."

(This is not an exhaustive list.)

How do I say something like

"Keep an open mind when you _____ a work of fiction"

instead of

"Keep an open mind when you read a book, watch a movie or TV show, listen to a song, play a game, etc."

Or how do I say

"I like to _____ fantasy."

instead of

"I like to read fantasy novels, watch fantasy movies and TV shows, listen to songs that tell fantastic stories, play fantasy games, etc."

These sentences are contrived examples; I am not asking for ways to rephrase them. I am asking for a verb that goes in the blank.

Likewise, is there an umbrella noun that refers to the one who _____s a work of fiction -- the reader of a book, the viewer of a movie, the listener of a song, the player of a game, etc.? (A noun that strictly refers to a single person, not a mass noun like "audience".)

  • 2
    What's wrong with read? I am currently reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird. That is a work of fiction. – WS2 Aug 1 '15 at 22:36
  • 1
    @WS2 You do not read a movie. I am looking for a single verb such that "I am _____ing Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird" means "I am reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird" and "I have _____ed the movie" means "I have seen the movie". – Jordan Aug 1 '15 at 22:40
  • In that case your question needs to be rephrased. At the moment it is not clear that you are referring to a work of moving images. The term work of fiction could equally, and does apply to a book with printed words. – WS2 Aug 1 '15 at 23:06
  • 2
    If you are looking for a word that covers all the different ways of experiencing a work of fiction, the short answer is probably that there isn't one. Or at least not an obvious one. I suppose you could say experiencing, or receiving, or enjoying, or some such thing. – WS2 Aug 1 '15 at 23:17
  • 3
    You might just drop the verb altogether: "I enjoys works of fictions". "I like fantasy" "Keep an open mind with works of fictions" – Jim Aug 1 '15 at 23:55

12 Answers 12


While I cannot think of a word specific to fiction, the word consume comes to mind. One can consume a work of fiction, or of media in general.

The answer to your second question follows naturally from this: the noun form would be consumer.


I think of people indulging in fantasies, so indulge:

1. allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of.


  • That's true but to indulge in a fantasy could mean to act it out rather than to watch or read about someone else. – chasly from UK Aug 1 '15 at 22:47
  • @chaslyfromUK Indeed but the verb is presumably to be for an action distinct from reading and watching and you can indulge in your mind. – Avon Aug 1 '15 at 22:49
  • @chasly. Ooooh, you're thinking of "Fifty Shades of Grey" here, aren't you? – Joost Kiefte Aug 1 '15 at 23:00

The word that comes to mind is appreciate, it does however have a positive connotation. If you are looking for a neutral verb the others previously suggested are also great; I particularly appreciate Consume, Devour, and Enjoy.

  1. Well, if you're a critic (not an "observer"), working on a review of someone else's (work of) fiction, then you may say:

"Keep an open mind when you review a work of fiction."
"Keep an open mind when you critique a work of fiction."

"observe" isn't right here in your context, I'm afraid. For a quick reference, here's a link: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/observe?s=t

  1. As for your second request, you might find indulge appropriate, if you'd like to allow yourself to enjoy the pleasure of fantasy.

"I like to indulge in fantasy."


I'd keep it simple:

When you consider a work of fiction.

Writing on my phone, will add definition and link later ...

  • But it only works for that example, I think indulge works better for the 'I like to ___' case – Lamar Latrell Aug 2 '15 at 0:48
  • This is not the verb I am looking for because "I considered Frankenstein" is not interchangeable with "I read Frankenstein", "I considered Die Hard" is not interchangeable with "I saw Die Hard", etc. – Jordan Aug 2 '15 at 0:48

I experience a work of fiction. I am the experiencer.

  • You may say, "I experience the fantasies / thrills / suspense of a work of fiction." Can you experience fiction? – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:01
  • @Sankarane Your question raises a good point, because "to experience" a work of fiction implies something deeper than just (reading the novel / watching the movie / _____ing the _____). It communicates a sense of feeling like the story is brought to life and being immersed in the story, and I am looking for a verb that is agnostic to the person's feelings toward the story. Maybe "experience" is not the verb I am looking for. – Jordan Aug 2 '15 at 0:06
  • "... agnostic to the person's feelings toward the story." Can you throw some light on that? – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:16
  • @Sankarane When I say "I read a novel", I am saying nothing about whether or not I enjoy it, whether I vividly "experience" it or just understand the narrative, whether I find it fantastic/thrilling/suspenseful or bland, etc. Same if I say "I watch a movie." I am looking for a verb that can stand in for "read" or "watch" (or "listen to" [a song], or "play" [a game], or whatever other verb you can think of) without referring to the subject of the sentence's feelings toward the direct object of the sentence. – Jordan Aug 2 '15 at 0:20
  • 1
    Oh, I get it. You don't identify with anything or anybody in the fiction, but you read it with a feeling of indifference, correct? The verb "experience" means the contrary. – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:37

inhabit (verb):

  1. to live or dwell in (a place), as people or animals

'Small animals inhabited the woods.'

  1. to exist or be situated within; dwell in

'Weird notions inhabit his mind.'

Source: Dictionary.com

  • "Keep an open mind when you inhabit a work of fiction"?!? I don't think this answer makes sense. – Jim Aug 1 '15 at 23:53
  • @jim fiction gives us the opportunity to enter into other worlds. We don't have to lose our sense of self, whilst doing so. – Julie Carter Aug 2 '15 at 0:02
  • OP says, "I'm looking for a single verb y" such that it means for novels, movies songs and games respectively- *read, watch, listen to, and play" – Jim Aug 2 '15 at 0:27

I behold a work of fiction. I am the beholder.

This came to mind when I was thinking of the expression "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

  • 1
    Behold: See or observe (someone or something, especially of remarkable or impressive nature). The only way to enjoy a work of fiction is by reading it, not by observing, watching, beholding, etc. – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:02
  • @Sankarene if the work of fiction is a movie, then you can enjoy it by watching it, not by reading it. – Jordan Aug 2 '15 at 0:07
  • Fiction is a genre, that refers to writing. – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:13
  • @Sankarane that is not how I am using the term "fiction". (Refer to the first line in the question.) – Jordan Aug 2 '15 at 0:21
  • Oh, okay. But can you use it in a way other than how it's usually understood by readers? The dictionary says it's "the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form." – Sankarane Aug 2 '15 at 0:33

Peruse I think works best here

  • Welcome to EL&U. As answers on StackExchange are expected to be definitive, your answer would be improved with an explanation of why you believe peruse is suitable, with dictionary definitions, examples in the wild, and other references as may be appropriate. Please take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. – choster Aug 25 '15 at 3:02

I agree with "appreciate" and "consider" (perhaps also "engage") as suitable possibilities.

But I also agree that you may be looking for a catch-all verb where none exists, as you are spreading your 'umbrella' so widely.


I observe a work of fiction. I am the observer.

(This is the verb that I, the asker of the question, have been using so far. I asked the question because that word choice does not feel right. But I am putting it in an answer so it can be commented on and voted on. Maybe my word choice was right all along.)

  • 1
    This is definitely mistaken, as observation is entirely different to experience. The problem may be more with your (unspecified) definition of work of fiction, which is normally restricted to written works. – Tim Lymington Aug 1 '15 at 22:48
  • A work of fiction, say a novel, can be read. How do I "observe" it? Can you elaborate on how you do this? – Sankarane Aug 1 '15 at 22:53
  • You can watch it from afar, seeing if it leads a life of its own.... – Joost Kiefte Aug 1 '15 at 22:55

Devour, digest, peruse, burn, despise, drink in, and skim over might all be suggestions, helpful or otherwise.

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