‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Johen ‘The man who never reads lives only one’ ~ Gearge R.R. Martin (2011, P. 526).
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RXWV5X8 Want to win £75 worth of book vouchers for a short survey?
I have been a young Roman Legate with a ferocious older Centurion as my best friend…
I have defeated the worlds biggest creatures at the peril of my swords edge…
I was an Italian mobster rising through the family ranks to take revenge…
I have traveled many worlds and seen indescribable beauty and danger…
And I have also been a Police investigator witnessing the most horrific of human nature…
These and many other lives, have I lived. At the ripe old age of 21 years old, in my real world state. How you ask?…Fiction.
I was writing the literature review for my dissertation (which is all about the consumption of fiction) when I found I wanted to write this article. Within my study, I am asking my participants how and why they read fiction literature, which I now realise, is an incredibly difficult thing to answer. There are so many reasons for each individual to read fiction. These can sometimes range from the artistic and philosophical: ‘It transports me to another world’ reasons to simple: ‘I just need something to do on the train, which requires no electric’ reasons.
It is to me, a fascinating topic and is the very question that my entire third year at university is based upon : Why and How People Consume Fiction Literature? I hope to write a series of self reflections to this question in the coming months, which will help me answer my very own question. Starting with #1 Looking through the protagonists eyes.
Becoming the Protagonist
As I said in the opening statements, fiction has allowed me to experience things that are so unnatural, not of this world and let me live experiences forgotten to history; the Roman invasion of Britain for example. When I read a book (at least a good book) I get fully immersed in its content, in its world and in its characters. The characters usually being the primary vessel to which you experience the fictions life. I read the book and all else around me is ignored. I read on the train into London, at home, in stores and whenever I can, but wherever it is, I am absorbed.
When I do this, a part of me believes (or wants to believe) that I become the character I am seeing the fiction through. I am slowly looking through the protagonists’ eyes. I start to feel what they feel, smell what they smell, touch what they touch and become fully one with the pages. I begin to agree with their emotions and fight their battles with them. I fully possess the role the author wishes me to experience. Which in itself is pretty artistic I know, but I cannot deny what happens.
Writing this, for me is very surprising, as I am a very logical person in real life. Yet I still am becoming the fictional being I am reading. In real life, I will never be an Italian mobster or an 8ft war chief with a 5ft battleaxe, but within the realms of the book, I am. I am the solider and I feel their pain. I am the wizard and I feel their power. I am the king and I feel the love for my people. Fiction books truly have the ability to transport.
The point I am trying to make is that, within fiction you become someone else or something else. It a form of transportation to others worlds and places that you would not normally be able to explore.
This is just one of many reasons that I have found why I read fiction. But there are many more, and more reasons why others read fiction. From escapism theory to being part of a community. All of which I would like to explore and write about. I am hoping that my dissertation gives me some new insight into why people read fiction and I will be happy to share the results.
Thank you very much for reading everyone!
PS. If you would like to take part in my dissertation study (Titled: How and Why People Consume Fiction Literature) then please do get in touch. You have the chance to win £50 worth of vouchers from Waterstones/ Foyles (or Barnes and Noble, if you are based in the USA). It is a 15 minute survey on how and why you read fiction.
Martin, R,R,G.(2011) A Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust. United States: Harper Voyager.