Confirmed readers almost always have some comfort books to which they return. Sometimes we reread them, at other times, simply remembering the book or books provides a sense of consolation or contentment. How many bloggers have mentioned their love of Anne of Green Gables (my personal favorite was Anne of Windy Poplars) or Alcott's Little Women (my favorite was actually Little Men)? Not great literature, but amazingly influential and unforgettable.
Now an entire generation has been influenced by Harry Potter. Young people who became readers because of the imaginative impact of one book; who have grown up with the adventures of Harry and friends, even as the characters grew up and the plots grew up as well.
And sometimes we have comfort genres: mystery, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy. We read them because they are entertaining, not because they are going to win prizes (although the best often do). Books that allow us to have adventures and experiences we would never have otherwise, to examine human motivation, to realize that the problems of human beings are essentially the same in different cultures and different time periods--that the human condition involves the same flaws and strengths, the same desires and goals, the same problems with relationships, the same fears of power and corruption.
Fiction doesn't have to be good literature to be good entertainment, or to be educational, or to broaden horizons.
Many studies have been done and articles written about the benefits of reading fiction--not necessarily good literature, but good stories. The Surprising Benefits of Reading Fiction lists 9 important benefits of reading fiction with which I'm sure all of you would agree.
The one thing the above article does not mention, but which applies to many of us is that reading fiction also encourages curiosity about facts. I frequently go off on tangents relating to something I've read-- do a little Google research, follow up on bibliographical info, read nonfiction associated with some topic mentioned in a novel, check out allusions to music, pop culture, literature, or historical events the author might include in the story.
Several years ago, I read The Terror by Dan Simmons, a fictional account of the Franklin Expedition after reading Stefanie's review on So Many Books . After finishing the novel, I found myself reading more about the expedition (the search for the Northwest Passage and the search for Franklin and The Terror after the ship went missing) in nonfiction and some tangential fictional accounts as well. In September of this year, The Terror was found in about 80 feet of water--so well preserved that experts said it could probably float.
The original theory that lead poisoning from improperly sealed canned food resulted in the death of many of the crew members has been thrown out in just the last few days. The analysis of a fingernail sliver from John Harknell's body reveals that a prolonged zinc deficiency resulted in Hartnell's death and would almost certainly have been the case for other crew members.
So...reading a highly imaginative fictional account of the Franklin Expedition led to reading a number of nonfiction accounts and an interest in that 168-year-old mystery that continues to fascinate me as new discoveries are made.
I love Sandy Mastrioni's dolls, pillows, and plates.
All of her creations are odd, whimsical, and amusing!
Book lovers can appreciate this one.
|Sandy's Etsy Shop|
This is so true, Jenclair. I can't tell you the number of times reading fiction has inspired me to research the background and facts. Whether it be to read nonfiction on the subject or just look up everything I can find online. I love how reading inspires the researcher in me.ReplyDelete
Reading does inspire the researcher in many of us! One of the lovely things about online sources--immediacy!Delete
That's a great post, Jenclair, and I totally agree with all the things mentioned here. Fiction not only offers entertainment, escapism (and even inspiration) but also allow us to find out more based on the subjects. It's great to learn some new things through researching the facts, and yes even some words which I'm not familiar with (Go! Dictionary.com) :)ReplyDelete
When something in a novel catches our attention or evokes our curiosity, we are continuing our learning as well as our enjoyment. :) Reading for both youngsters and adults is the most painless way to increase vocabulary!Delete
Isn't it great where our reading and curiosity take us? I hadn't heard about the zinc discovery. So interesting!ReplyDelete
Curiosity and fiction can result in some strange digressions. Evidently malnourishment and zinc deficiency can lead to some of the same behaviors as lead poisoning. The fingernail sliver results were made public last week. Weird science!Delete
Love what you wrote...and I completely agree! And that's such a great quote you chose. Awesome post!ReplyDelete
The "Bookworm" title can be a good thing, right?!Delete
Absolutely! Bookworms unite. :DDelete
What a great post, and how true! Many times I read something that is fiction but then start doing research to find out more information. This happens a lot when I read a story written or set in another country. Thanks for the tip about that book The Terror, sound intense!ReplyDelete
Yes, books set in other countries often make me curious, too. I read The Birdwatcher by William Shaw recently and had to Google Dungeness, the headland in Kent, to have a look at the salt marshes the author was describing. :) I also learned the area is both the site of nuclear facilities and a wildlife sanctuary. Mysteries can be educational!Delete