I’ve always been a reader. From the time my father would bring me beautiful picture books that played out the too-perfect fairy tales to asking my mother to buy me Noddy books during every store trip; and from borrowing dystopian books at my school library to my cousin recommending me The Vegetarian by Han Kang —the book that made me want to become a reviewer four years ago. Clearly, there is something about reading I love so much that it has become more than just a hobby, more than just a habit I wish to commit to. This post attempts to breakdown what makes reading such an intricate part of my life: ten reasons why I love reading fiction.
This post is written as part of a bookish meme called Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader, where new prompts are provided every week and the topic for this post aligns with this week’s suggested theme.
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Escaping the uncontrollable reality.
Isn’t this the foremost reason for every reader? While the world crumbles around us, books serve as the magical portal we all want to escape into fictional realms through. There’s only so much we can control in the real world but if a book isn’t giving you exactly what you need in the moment, you can simply keep it aside and pick up a new story. Even in the midst of daily mundane tasks, audiobooks allow me to enjoy the things I simply need to do. If there’s one way to situate myself out of the commitments this adult life asks for, it’s reading.
Growing empathy and recognising privilege.
While escaping from reality is quite fun, sometimes we need to —and should— reconnect with those who have lived or are living different episodes from us in this very same world. The struggles of a system, the pain of past, and the bitterness of present for some might be vastly divergent from my actuality, and reading works written by and through these perspectives can help me be more empathetic. Sometimes it also forces me to acknowledge the irrefutable privilege I hold in contrast to the unfair experiences others have been subjected to.
Learning made more interesting.
As someone who has always been enthusiastic about learning the world history, there’s no surprise that historical fantasy easily became one of my absolute favorite sub-genres. Whether it’s the 1937 Second Sino-Japanese War that The Poppy War takes inspiration from or the 1992 Rodney King Riots that The Black Kids is set during, the fictional stories surely propelled me to read more about the real occurrences they highlight. Reading not only allows me to wonder about the past but also ponder over the present: from systemic inequalities to religious prejudices that still exist in the society today, stories encourage me to keep educating myself.
Experiencing the impossibilities.
In the most fun way, reading allows me to live through some scenarios that would never play out in my world. Yes, I say this while focusing on romance tropes. Everyone loves enemies-to-lovers but come on, would that even happen? As someone who immediately cuts off anyone who doesn’t score well on my vibe test and would definitely not converse with anyone who clearly doesn’t like me, there’s no way —in any of the infinite parallel dimensions mentioned in Dark Matter —that I would fall in love with that person. But this trope does hold so much power. Reading is all about that! From marriage of convenience to childhood friends to lovers, you’ll find me cheering for love in fictional stories while running far away from it in real life.
Seeing my ethnicity or culture represented.
Like many readers of my age, I’ve grown up with white stories. Every tale had white heroes and Aladdin singularly became the story for brown kids —not to mention how this fact perpetuated the incorrect idea of using South Asian and Middle Eastern culture interchangeably. Sadly, it wasn’t until I stepped into book blogging that I came across, and purposefully searched for, stories that unabashedly highlighted the culture I grew up in. From desi food references to seeing Hindi or Urdu words added for readers like me, not for the white gaze, I began to fall in love with reading all over again for the comfort of similarity it now provided me.
Gives me a reason to continue blogging.
Speaking of book blogging, reading has certainly been the most important driving force for this passion project of mine. Of course, it’s all in the name: I basically blog about books because I love reading. But what could’ve met the fate of my other hobbies —cooking, sewing, and sketching— as they became more and more difficult to continuously persevere through, blogging hasn’t faced the same end-result yet. Despite the very many reading lists that often make me proud, sometimes it’s the book reviews that really help reignite my love for this blog.
Easier to start or continue conversations.
Like many other readers, I’m an introvert on most days. But on the rare days I do crave stepping into a public gathering or a social circle, reading does help me start a dialogue with friends even if I soon go on a rant about my most disliked books or appreciate my favourite books a little too much. My love for reading has also given me a reason to make some great online friends; from direct messages that began with discussing some great new releases to buddy reads that made every reading experience more fun, regardless of how the book turned out to be.
Transcends and transpires emotions.
It’s difficult to keep a track of every instance when a book has pulled me anywhere along an emotional spectrum: from giddy happiness to teary sadness. Reading has always given what I sentimentally sought. Whether it’s the need to reciprocate fun through a summer romance or the need to feel the chills through a winter thriller, books have allowed me to absorb what they intensely wished to deliver. Bad days have turned around after a sweet contemporary and good days have been bettered with diverse SFF.
A reason to survive in this materialistic world.
Why am I supposed to abide by all these societal commitments? Work through the week for some paper notes and digital balance? What is stopping me from giving up all the worldly responsibilities and walk up the Himalayas into seclusion? Of course, books. The beautiful covers, the very many authors I want to keep supporting, the gorgeous stories are all a good enough reason for me to keep surviving in this consumerist society.
Inspires me to write my own stories.
I’m one of those writers who fell in love with reading and gradually grew the need to tell some of my own tales. Pretty sure every writer starts that way. Interacting with what I read makes me appreciate it even more, and that in turn sparks more ideas to my writer brain. Discussing stories with other readers and ultimately taking inspiration from the crafting techniques —which subsequently helps me create my own style— is another reason why I love reading.
why do you love reading? comment below! 💛