Why Should We Read More of Literary Fiction — Part 1
On the pleasure of reading
One of the main reasons we read, in my opinion, is because we want to understand ourselves.
There are of course more facile reasons like entertainment, the need to escape the present world, and in some cases, a morbid need to excel at something (like reading).
But the most important and perhaps the only one of essence is that reading helps us make sense of who we are. We read because in a book full of words we can imagine a whole world for ourselves.
Imagine sitting in a coffee shop with a book, or in your bedroom, or in an aeroplane; it does not matter where you are. Imagine you are reading a book and the author has taken time to create a world for you, which can either be made of scenes or ideas — doesn’t matter.
- When you go through a short story by Ruskin Bond, you get transported to the mountains where a little girl is running after a blue umbrella.
- When you read Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy, you get lost in the intricacies of words and images, a dense filmy cornucopia of images keeps bombarding your mind as your eyes run over the pages.
- When you read Kafka, you become aware of the absurdity of everything around you as you find yourself running through halls and corridors of law offices which are found at the most unexpected of places, like fate.
- When you read Dostoevsky, you start discussing with yourself your deep-rooted beliefs about religion and the nature of existence. When you read Woolf, you become acutely aware of your own thoughts as you dip into the minds of the characters which continue to tick for pages.
The list is not endless.
In simplistic terms, literature creates a new world for you. A world that’s full of mirrors. A fictional text is like a mirror, but with a unique characteristic that it makes you “more aware” of your reality by giving you a distorted picture of what reality is for you.