From novels to video games, fiction is indispensable to children and adults alike.
Reading Time: 13 minutes
By Linh Nguyen
When I was five, my father read me fairy tales as he put me to bed. I fell asleep enchanted by the magic of Cinderella and the adventures of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. As I grew older, my love of stories did not fade, but my father’s encouragement did. Reading fiction, particularly children’s fantasy, was downgraded to a guilty pleasure, incompatible with the reality of working towards a well-paying career.
A case for escapism
It is likely that one of the main reasons that people enjoy playing video games is the chance to escape. “Personally, I’ve always seen it on the one hand as a nice way to tune the world out for a little bit and escape into another world and engage in a story,” Johnstone says.
Why do we care?Though some may argue against investing in art without tangible results, our desire for it has always been apparent. “In the very early stages of any society, the primary needs are food and shelter, but they still made art. You go in the caves, and they’ve got stuff scratched on the walls… The evidence is already in that art does matter. Even if we can’t say why, or how it matters, it clearly does matter,” Mount says.As academics and general readers suggest, art’s impact includes offering comfort, providing pleasure, escape, igniting political or cultural movements, and much more — all of which are equally valid and equally possible across genres and forms. Students and professors alike emphasize that good readers know to seek a range of literature for a range of purposes.Sharratt, when asked why we should choose to engage with fictions, says simply, “Do you enjoy the book? Read it. Does it give you some sense of nostalgia? Read it. Did you set it down 10 years ago and never pick it back up? Read it.” We should not, according to Sharratt, have to justify what we want to read; the desire alone is reason enough.Whether we believe in stories because they’re fun, educational, or anything in between, their impact on us has always been felt. Avid readers often claim that the effect alone makes fiction valid, significant, and worth being seriously considered. “If the books move you,” says Mount, “what does it matter whether they’re real?”