There have been countless studies conducted as to why we humans read fiction. I am not going to talk to you about any of those. I could quote stats to you all day long, I am a librarian. Librarians love statistics. I am, against my nature, not going to quote any reading stats.
If you are not a fiction reader this article is not for you, however, if you have a significant other or another loved one who is a fiction reader, you may want to keep reading. I want to tell you that if you do not like reading fiction you just haven’t found your favorite book yet. Keep trying.
If you are an avid reader of fiction, I want you to take a few minutes and consider why you read fiction. What makes it allowable for you to give up your time for reading a fiction novel? Time is a valuable commodity. Once a moment has passed you can get it back. Why then fill it with reading fiction? (or Medium articles too for that matter, but I digress)
Fiction gives us an escape. Novels tell us that there is still magic in the world. They give us hope that there really is love out there somewhere. They tell us that evil exists too. We read fiction as a reflection of a reality that is just fantastic enough to be real but safe for us to experience. No one died as a result of reading a book about a serial killer.
We can experience the heat of passion when we are alone. We can climb the mountain without the danger of falling. We can fight orcs, battle dragons, and swim with sharks from the safety of our easy chairs.
What happens to your soul when you read?
We have all experienced that dropping out of time that occurs when we get absorbed in a good book. Humans who are reading can be in a crowd and not hear a sound. Reading is the one thing, other than mind-altering sex, that you can do that will envelop you in such a way that your other senses shut off sometimes almost completely. It is on that other plane of existence that your soul is happiest. Reading is addictive for that same reason. Soul bliss comes from reading. Think about it the next time you sit down and realize soon after that you have been reading for longer than you thought.
That soul freeing feeling is why I do not waste my time on bad writing. If I can’t lose myself in a book in a couple of pages, I flip to the middle pages, pick up anywhere and see if it hooks me. If not, I toss it. I may pick it up again at a later date. There is something to be said about reading the right book in the right frame of mind and at the right time in your life, but I will say to in another article.
I encourage you to read for that mind altered, sublime experience. Don’t let your brain take your soul to a place of mediocre stories. It is different for all of us, but the reason is the same. We all have our favorite books for the same reason, we fell in love with the characters or the story or both. We read what we read to satisfy a longing that is deep within our being.
Believe in the mind-altering soul transcending power of stories.