why read? why fiction?

Lately, as I’ve had endless amounts of time to read, I’ve been coming upon books that I just can’t not share with others. I’m way into fiction, so hopefully I don’t sound too biased. As I share with others or when the topic comes up, it astonishes me how many people A) do not like to read, and B) do not like to read fiction. First let me say that I love all genres. Let me also point out that, as of last year, I would not have known this. I’ve read fiction all my life and love it with a passion, but it wasn’t until I entered one of my education classes that I realized that I never branched out of that genre. If asked, I would say that I don’t like nonfiction, horror, realistic fiction, etc. But how would I know? I’ve never given it an honest try! There are even some elements of fiction books that I had not given a try and would say that I didn’t like. I put myself in a bubble of books and did not leave my comfort zone. During my class, I was forced  encouraged to read other genres. And I’m so glad I did. I realized that there are so many genres of books out there and different types of books that I had never even opened my eyes to. I told myself that I didn’t like these types of books, but I actually love them! IMG_5895

So, why fiction? Obviously I just made my point as to why I think you branch out of your comfort zone and try new styles of books. And I don’t feel like a hypocrite saying this because I’ve done it myself. When I think of why I love fiction so much, I’m consumed by emotion. I don’t know where I’d be without all the books I’ve been exposed to. There have been so many books that just open my eyes to see things differently. I get caught up in a world that’s not my own. To be able to BE the character you’re reading about – to feel what they feel, to go through what they go through,

I think sometimes we get stuck in our own world and forget about how others’ lives are. Of course, fictional books are fake stories, but they do have real aspects. Real people. Real feelings. Real situations. To read a book is to open the pages to a person’s world you have never heard. And even if we don’t forget others’ lives, reading helps you to understand more about them. To hear what goes on in someone’s head as their world is crashing down. To relate to a character. To open your eyes to a character’s personality that you thought you could never like – and then suddenly it all makes sense. Suddenly you understand that person better. You see that people are not just black and white, which I think we sometimes do. There’s been characters in books that I just absolutely do not like. And rightfully so!!! Take Peter in Divergent, for example. He was rude, mean. Come on, he stabbed someone in the freaking eye just to make sure he could get ahead in a competition!!! You instantly don’t like him because, well… he does nothing worth liking. The book isn’t in his POV though, so how can we know what he’s really thinking or who he really is? Which is true of real life too. Our life is in our POV and we don’t get to see inside someone else’s world, not completely. But anyway, Peter keeps being Peter and he keeps doing things that make you dislike him even more. But then, Tris (main character) comes to a realization in the second book when Peter had just helped rescue her from her death that I think he helped orchestrate (which I think is kind of hilarious) that we get a glimpse into who Peter really is. Peter has saved her and says something about how they are even now and he doesn’t owe her anymore favors. Tris is caught off guard at this and realizes that there is so much more to Peter than she sees. He is the way he is because of something in his life that has happened. Maybe he’s never had one single person love him. Maybe he’s spent his whole life with his family living in a way that is like a competition – keeping score on “who owes who”. It makes you really think about who this character is because all of a sudden your assumptions about him have completely changed and you really have no idea who he is.

Another example is Dimitri in The Bronze Horseman. I do not like him. I do not like him at all. He is a conniving, unlikable character that only thinks of himself. But then there was one part in this book where the characters were hanging out and Dimitri asked everyone to share “What love meant to them”. Although he was still not likable in this part, everyone shared their thoughts. Then they left, and as they were leaving, the main character thought “It wasn’t until we had left that I realized that no one asked Dimitri what love meant to him” (that is not the exact quote). It makes you stop and think. If I were him, I would have shared out my thoughts and opinions without being asked, and I know he would have too because he has a strong personality. So why didn’t he? Obviously there is something more to his story. His story. You mean, he’s not just evil and self-absorbed? Obviously not. There’s more to his character than we think. What’s he hiding behind the brick walls that he has built so thick and so high that no one has taken notice of?  You see how this can give you a new outlook on the world around you? When I read this, I had to take a break because I was so overcome with emotion. I was so judgmental about him and if I was that judgmental about a person in a book, who was I being judgmental to in real life?

Moving beyond characters, there are just so many thoughts that I’ve never even contemplated before.

“We are synonyms but not the same.
Synonyms know each other like old colleagues, like a set of friends who’ve seen the world together. They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other. Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because the way they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me

WOAH. Maybe I’m weird and that isn’t interesting at all, but to me.. it’s so interesting and thought-provoking!! I’m always coming across things like this. I come across characters who I completely connect with as if I were that character. Reading and reading fiction is just so mind opening. I don’t believe every book can give you this sort of reaction. There are some books for me that I just don’t find enjoyable or connect to. It’s all about finding the right book. Finding the book that mesmerizes you in a coffee shop, so much that you jump when you hear a sound because you think the mafia is coming for you or something because that’s what’s going on in the book. Or when you go through each chapter saying “this next one for sure and I’m calling it a night” but many chapters later you realize you’ve finished the book and it’s four in the morning…. These are the books that captivate me and make me love reading! It’s all about finding the right book!

Now onto the next question: Why read at all?

If what I’ve said hasn’t already convinced you to read, then I’m not sure anything else I say can. Reading opens your imagination, gives you new insight, gives you more knowledge on things, and it’s just fun! All of this, though, can seem a bit far-fetched if you don’t like reading. So find a book that’s just right for you, and start reading! Let the words speak to you and see what happens!!



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