Have you ever stopped to wonder why so many people read books? With the advent of e-readers to supplement print books, a phenomenal number of novels are being read each year and the number of readers seems to be growing. So why is this? Here’s what I think.
In recent years, and especially since the global recession, life has become much harder for all but the very rich. We all have less money to spend on entertainment and going out, so we lose that outlet for dealing with the stresses of everyday life. What do we have left which is affordable and helps us to achieve the desired effect?
Regardless of which genre you like to read, books are pure escapism. In the dictionary, escapism is defined as “something such as fantasy or entertainment that makes it possible to forget about the ordinary or unpleasant realities of life for a while” and “the act of indulging in daydreams or fantasies to escape from everyday reality”. What better way is there to relax, unwind and take your mind off your troubles after a hellish week at work, or trying to job hunt, or dealing will illness (either your own or a family member’s)?
Reading has been a very important part of my life since I was a child. And yes, I’ll be the first to admit it has helped me through some tough times in the past. When I have things on my mind, I sometimes find that my subconscious will work its way through my worries while I escape into the wonderful worlds of my latest read. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t use reading as a crutch, I genuinely love it!
My definition of a good book is one I can lose myself in. I want to be able to connect with the characters on an emotional level, feel like I can get to know them. Learning about their hopes, dreams, faults, what makes them laugh or cry and their morality (or lack of) is a huge factor in my enjoyment of a story.
Even if a novel is character-driven, it still needs to have a good plot to define why the characters act and react like they do. It drives the tale along, giving it direction and purpose. I love wrapping my head around a good plot and trying to work out how things are going to pan out before I’ve reached the end. A really good storyline is one which will keep me guessing, isn’t predictable &/or has a really unexpected twist at the end.
The escapism books provide is a special time for the reader. They entertain, allow you to dream, fire your imagination and offer a coping mechanism to deal with the less pleasant aspects of life.
Carlie M A Cullen is the author of newly released novel Heart Search, blogger extraordinaire and loyal friend to many -both human and mythical.