“…novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings..Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined” — Annie Murphy Paul
Even if you’re not lonely or isolated, books can add so much to life. I’m a big fan of all sorts of nonfiction, and I love the practical information of home and garden references, or the fascinating insight into history that biographies and memoirs offer. But fiction can be even more true to life than nonfiction.
Whether the story is written in first or third person, the characters in a good novel will come to life for us even if they exist in a distant place or time, with a much different story than ours. In fact, novels that introduce us to new worlds and different ways of thinking are often the most spellbinding. Lisa See, Junot Diaz, Maeve Binchy, Jhumpa Lahiri and Orhan Pamuk have seemingly nothing in common, except their ability to take readers where many of us have not gone before, and show us familiar or exotic things as seen through someone else’s eyes. And if you’ve read Alexander McCall Smith’s wonderful series about Mma. Ramotswe (seventeen books and counting so far) you may feel almost as if you have relatives in Botswana.
Have novels taken you to any faraway destinations lately? Do you have fictional acquaintances who seem almost as real to you as people you have known face-to-face? Do you know any books that are a great place to go when feeling sad, disappointed or afraid? Share your fictional friends with us– we may like them as much as you do!