Why We Read Fiction

fireside marshmallowsI recently wrote a scene between a main character and an alien, explaining why people would want to read something they know isn’t true aka stories. It was an interesting scene for me to write, putting down why I love reading something I know didn’t happened and is unlikely to happen. Quite often, the reason it hasn’t happened is part of the charm.

I know some people only read non-fiction or biographies, so obviously not everyone gets the allure of fiction. However, I know studies have shown people who read fiction are more empathetic, and happier. I think most fiction-readers would already know that from personal experience.

I think reading fiction allows the reader to explore all manner of circumstances and scenarios in a safe environment. Because we identify with the characters, we experience what they are going through almost as if we’re going through it ourselves (scientists call what happens in our brains to make this so mirror neurons). But over and above that, which I think is mostly sub-conscious anyway (I doubt many people sit down and think, oh, I think I’d like to find out what it’s like to experience a hostage situation, or what to do when on the run from gun-wielding madmen), I know I read for fun. It’s just plain fun.

There’s another side-benefit, and that is sharing stories connects you to others. It used to be, stories were told around a fireside and enjoyed and discussed by the audience. Now, the internet and blogs like this one, and other book-related blogs, have become our fireside. So . . . why do you love reading fiction, and . . . please pass the mashmallows πŸ™‚

photo credit: Pipistrula via photopin cc

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. To find out more about her and her novels, you can visit her website.
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8 Responses to Why We Read Fiction

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Great blog! I know I do love reading for the emotions I feel, which is why I don’t care to read stories with endings that are unsatisfactory for the main characters. As a reader, that leaves me unsatisfied, too. I’m not talking about sex, just that their lives haven’t changed or have gotten worse. Unless it’s a sequel and I think that it will get better. Usually I want to finish the book and feel that it was the perfect ending for the characters.

  2. Mary Hughes says:

    Thought-provoking topic! I think I read non fiction to learn something intellectual and fiction to learn something emotional. πŸ˜€

  3. I read for fun too. I read enough literary fiction in college to last a lifetime. It was rare that I read something in college that a happy, or at least hopeful, ending. I like my happy endings. 😎
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Black Widow audiobook up for pre-order …

    • LOL, Jennifer, I read a lot of literary fiction at university, too. A LOT. Some of it I loved, and I’ve continued to read those authors ever since, but the less cohesive the plot, or the less sense the story makes, the less interested I am when it comes to recent literary fiction.
      Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Winter Booklovers Contest

  4. I read for enjoyment too. I read for happily ever afters. And I read because I love to be someplace else for a little while.
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Help! I need a saying!

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