The cat bites the mailman. The soup boils over and leaves a burned mess on the stove. The kids' are quarreling. Your boss bellows at you to get in her office immediately. The computer crashes. The bill is a day late, resulting in a $35 late charge.
On days like this, it's obvious why we read: to escape.
And yet books don't hold the same merit that they used to in the lives of most Americans. Now, we're faced with many other ways to disconnect from the stress of real life. We can stream a favorite show, buzz around social media, watch a movie or see a concert or catch up on a favorite blog ... all from the comforts of our living room. In days past--say our grandparents or great-grandparents' generation--these things were unheard of. Books played a much more vital role in the lives of many.
For me though--and maybe for you, too?--there is nothing quite as relaxing as the promise of time spent with a good book. I love to curl up in the couch's corner and read with a cup of coffee in hand. Or to spend a few minutes before I fall asleep finishing "just one more chapter."
Reading is more than just the story (though that's obviously very important). It's about the ritual of reading. It's about sinking into a story that's partly creation of the author and partly your imagination. It's about enjoying your genre fully: whether that's romance or sci-fi or noir or suspense.
When you think about it, reading fiction is really a strange process. You and a friend can read the exact same book, yet will both come away with different takes on it, as well as a completely unique set of characters formed in your minds.
When you watch a movie with a friend, however, while your opinions may differ the experience of the movie is similar for you both. What you saw on the screen, after all, cannot be that different than the person sitting six inches away from you.
It's also a way to form a community. Book groups are more popular than movie groups, and recommendations from readers of books in your genre are likely to be taken to heart, whereas movie reviews aren't weighted as heavily. There are even websites dedicated to discussing books via online forums like Goodreads and LibraryThing.
Still, it piques my curiosity. Besides escape, what other reasons do you read fiction? Do you make reading fiction a high priority in your leisure time? Please chime in via the comments section below.
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