Growing up, my peers would ask me fairly frequently why I chose to read fiction so much, or I guess more accurately “What are you reading, nerd*?” The teachers never asked me, I assume because they were happy I was the-student-reading-something, instead of the-student-who-asked-difficult-questions or, on the other extreme, the-student-setting-things-on-fire. Those seem to be the only options we were given before high school, where most of us were given the opportunity to become productive members of society**.
I think I became interested in fiction because I like the idea of story. I say the idea of story because the narrative structure, which contains plot and character development and which ties up the loose ends, doesn’t exactly hold true when you get down to it yourself.
Stories were created not just to catalogue history, but to because they were appealing. Stories are a good way to divulge and digest life lessons. Stories give us a format for how life should work out, which is obviously not the case with our own lives, which aren’t so clean. Hence the appeal of fiction, which in my opinion is the best kind of story.
So here I am: an adult who still reads about everything from knights to space-battles. I read them because I like telling them as well. Stories contain some aspects of culture that are universal, and some that are unique to their society, all of which is right up my alley. Plus, let’s be honest, morals and values are much more fun when accompanied by magic and swordfights.
*= This is definitely what happened, only in my head. Most likely they asked “Hey, what are you reading?” and then I would tell them, and they would say “oh,” followed occasionally by “weird.”
**= Others were given the opportunity to become convicts. It wasn’t a perfect system.