Why should we read Fiction?

Why should we read fiction? 

This is a question that I’ve been asked many times in life, usually by friends who don’t enjoy reading. However, this time an interviewer asked me to submit an essay on why everyone should read fiction. Just felt like it would make an interesting blog post.

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Perhaps by fate or coincidence, this is very similar to the question I typed into Google just a few days ago. Having spent upwards of ten years in my twenty-three years on this planet reading books, I get this question a lot. My pride and vanity force me to say I read all types of books and enjoy them equally, though the truth is that fiction is the love of my life. The more fictional, the better in my opinion. I could live for days in the realms of fantasy but a few minutes with my textbooks had tired me out.

 

‘Why so? What could you possibly gain from fiction? At least, reading non-fiction has some merit. You learn something from nonfiction’ people ask. I cannot speak for all, of course, but I read novels because they have taught me so much more than classes and textbooks ever did. As much as I loved my school life, education these days have become more about memorizing than learning. It is more about scores than merit or character. Therefore, just like a child learns morals and virtues through folklore and fairy tales, an adult learns empathy and compassion through fiction. It is the closest means of climbing into another person’s shoes, without literally wearing someone else’s footwear. For example, through Harry from The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling taught readers that friendship, loyalty, and bravery were more important than books and cleverness. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games taught people never to judge an individual based just on appearance. Along with Charlie from The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, I learned the importance of participating in life instead of standing by and watching everyone else live theirs. These are hard concepts to learn just by reading textbooks and sticking to facts.

 

Fiction also makes learning fun. It takes the tedious task of education and turns it into entertainment. Books like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has helped millions around the world understand the horror and the despair of the people during the World War 2 much better than history textbooks which focused on dates and statistics. Through The Martian by Andy Weir, people have a better understanding of space and astrophysics.

 

‘Movies do that too!’ some exclaim. I agree; they do provide a window into a person’s life. However, in films, we see the story happen to someone else. We are detached from the characters. They do not allow us to climb into the protagonist’s head. Readers get inside the character’s head. Sometimes, if it is a well-written book, they become the characters themselves. This is a power that fiction novels alone possess.

 


Let me know if any of you enjoy reading. What genres do you typically read and why? I’m actually curious to find out.

An open letter to Tamil Cinema.

Dear movie-makers of Kollywood,

This might come as a shock, but your audiences aren’t as dumb as you seem to think. You try to fool us with scene and plots almost completely ripped from Hollywood. Do not forget, most of us have watched those films before. Anyways, why copy Hollywood when there is no dearth of great stories amidst us.

Also, at least make an effort in not being sexist. Again this may be shocking and controversial, but women also are sexual beings and that isn’t a crime. We too can be attracted to a male (or female in some cases). Falling in love isn’t a guy’s prerogative and neither is expressing it. Stop portraying that only timid women are worthy of love and women who openly accept their attraction to a male deserve to be scorned. The right to love and be loved is universal isn’t it?

Make an effort in not being racist too. Dusky completion is also beautiful. Do you realize how many women suffer from insecurity because of this ‘fair and lovely’ attitude? Dark is also lovely and it’s high time we accept that considering most women in India are dark skinned. But if you are going to continue with skinny white girls, I’d also want to see the same treatment dished out to men too. There can only fair complexioned fella’s as the lead henceforth.

Next comes a few things about women. I think you should know that women are more likely to report the guys who follow them around everywhere, than fall in love with them. Stalkers are not attractive. Neither is blackmailing women with suicide threats. Men who do that need serious medical treatments. Women certainly do not exchange phone numbers at the first meeting. (Priya Anand, I’m looking at you). Even if some of us do believe in love at first sight, we’d do our background check on the guy before accepting a proposal. Also, sometimes it’s the guy’s fault for a breakup, not always, but sometimes. It is also not the girls fault for having a boyfriend when the hero decides to fall in love with the heroine. Stop whining! (Can’t you seriously find some single women? It’s a huge world after all) Most importantly, it’s not okay to hit a woman just because she doesn’t confer to the hero’s wishes no matter how angry he gets. Nor is it okay for the women to remain silent after being hit. We have enough cases of domestic violence without movies making such propaganda implying such behaviors are acceptable, in anger or otherwise.

Finally, true love can happen more than once. Yes that’s right! You can fall completely head over heels over a person more than once in your lifetime. Incredible isn’t it! (Thank you Director Atlee, for finally showing that in ‘Raja Rani’)

That’s the end of my rant for now.

Yours sincerely,
A proud yet slightly disgruntled Tamilian.

What feminism is NOT about!

Feminist. This had become a sort of taboo word in my head ‘cause of the stigma that comes with it. At one point feminist meant fighters for equality, today they are seen as ugly, angry, man-haters, out just to prove a point. And that just bugs me! So here I am, finally acknowledging my feminist side and attempting to clear up what feminism does not mean.

  1. It does not mean I hate men. No, I don’t discriminate like that. I hate men and women equally.
  2. It does not mean I’m gonna to try and remove the colour hot pink or blonde from my world.
  3. It does not mean I’m a lesbian. I drool over Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman as much as any other girl, if not more. (Although, I do think life would be easier if I could be one. My bestie and I could live happily ever after. Less drama that way.)
  4. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I will eat up any bullshit thrown at me as long as it’s a woman throwing. This girl is allergic to that stuff and can have severe reactions to it.
  5. I’m not feminist because I’m ‘fashionably-challenged’. I’m a clothes slut when I need to be, but how can I help it if my PJ’ or jeans look more appealing than that little black dress most of the days?
  6. Lastly, I’m not always angry. Just can’t stand stupidity. If I get angry with you, you probably were being an enormous pain in my ass.

These are just the accusations I’ve personally seen feminists face. There seem to be endless stereotypes, but that is a discussion for another day. Toodles! :*

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