Once upon a time, back in my junior year of high school, we played ‘two truths one lie’ in my creative writing class. (If you don’t know the game, you make 3 claims and everyone else guesses which one isn’t true). So anyway, it was my turn to say my three things and I felt so clever thinking no one’s going to get it bwahaha! My oh so clever claim was that I had never finished a book for a class, and everyone called it a lie. To be honest, I don’t know if I remember what the actual lie was. I think it was that I had broken my arm or something… But totally not the point. The point is, when everyone was wrong and I was the class’s best liar, I looked at my teacher and she was incredulous. What? Spark Notes was doing a stellar job!
Don’t do this, kids. Read the goddamn books.
Okay. I’m not proud of this story. But you get the point—I hated reading. And I mean, I really did despise it. My crazy mother constantly reminded me (and still does) that I started reading when I was like three and I should love books (or something like that, obviously she doesn’t say it enough… Hi Mom!). In addition to this, she read more books than there are words in the dictionary. Seriously, I’d hear her laughing in her bedroom at 4 in the morning and the next day when I asked her, she told me her book was funny. I think her pining for me to read so bad made me reluctant to do so.
So there I was, several years later, in a room when someone else was asked if they really didn’t read books. They were asked if they had never been moved, or felt anything from reading a book. When they said no, my jaw literally dropped to my feet.
Funny how things change, huh?
I won’t go into it now, but in my mind, I thought if I’m going to write books, I should probably read them. And thus started my bookworminess.
To the POINT, Song.
Yes yes, I read a lot. Mostly young adult, but I read just about everything—from mystery and romance to sci-fi and fantasy. Why young adult? Firstly, I think it’s because the book that plunged me into the literary world was a young adult (Paper Towns by John Green, to be exact). Secondly, because they’re so goddamn relatable. Characters in their teens have more intense emotions, and the stakes always feel like it could be the end of the world, even if it’s not. And before you think you’re ‘too old’ to be reading young adult, a well written book isn’t condescending towards its characters, and you’ll be able to let go of the fact that they’re younger.
So with further a do, these are some of the reasons I read fiction and how it helps.
It makes me a better writer.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m sure pretty much every author will tell you that the number one best way to improve your writing is to read read read. I can’t tell you how much it helps. Your vocabulary will naturally expand (mine used to suck; and it’s still not that great) and you’ll pocket more ways to say ‘she was sad.’ If you decide to read as a writer, you’ll identify better ways to improve your own ‘voice’ and use of punctuation. Not everything is restricted to the grammar you learned in school.
It boosts my creativity.em>
Whenever I hit a wall (aka writer’s block…it’s real), I pick up a good book. Reading isn’t always a down time activity for me; I like to think of it as part of my creative productivity. It does help me destress when I’m feeling frustrated, but it also gives me so many ideas and excites me to go back to whatever I was working on and sometimes triggers thoughts for a new project. Without it, I probably would still be on the first pages of my novel (and you can definitely see the influence of what I read in my writing).
It gives me perspective.em>
You can make the argument that fiction is just that—fiction. And even though the characters and stories are made up, they’re usually very very real. Getting inside the heads of characters that are nothing like you is very refreshing. It gives me a better understanding of people unlike me, or just people in general, and maybe even get insight to why they do the things they do. Apart from the mindfulness, many books deal with real life issues, such as racism, depression, poverty, and so on, which can offer a more empathetic view rather than a newspaper article.
It makes me feel like I’m not alone.
I think just about everyone goes through a phase in their life where they feel like they’re the only one feeling a certain way, or like no one else gets it. It just so happens that I feel like this a lot. There are tons and tons of characters that everyone can empathize with that are probably going through something similar to you. And before you go saying they’re fake, the people that write them are real.
Really, I just love a good story. There’s nothing better than diving head first into a novel and getting lost in the process. I’m addicted to meeting people and falling for them time and time again; experiencing worlds I never will and being purely moved with emotion. I love a book that will make me laugh and book that will make my sob in bed at 4 in the morning because I can’t put it down, and I love finishing a story that will be swimming in my thoughts for weeks. Heck, I’ve had dreams about characters I’ve read about. And the best part of it all, is that the book you read will be different from the same book someone else reads.
If you want to see some of the books I’ve read recently, you can go check out my Goodreads.
A well written book is a well written book, but sometimes I wonder if a book is only as good as you allow it to be.
What’s your favorite book?