As readers, most of us have been asked questions about the reasons we read what we read. Usually, we have a stock reply and we move on with our lives.
"It was a pretty cover."
"I like the author."
"I find the story inspirational."
Which ever was you answer, the questions are normally harmless and we move on with our lives. However, sometimes these questions make us consider things a little bit more.
Why do you like fantasy and paranormal stuff so much?
I was asked this the other night and frankly, it made me mad. It was asked in the tone that implied that all books about magic were silly and I guess it is what spurred this whole post. The question can apply to any genre really and I hate this idea of people being critical of entire categories of literature, as if one is so much more valid than another.
The majority of what I read is called paranormal, fantasy or urban fantasy. The reason I invest so much of my time and energy into the magical genres is because it usually provides a battle to be won. Evil is present and it can be touched and seen. Evil is experienced in the flesh instead of it being a concept that is hard to pin down. The bad guys in these books tend to be really bad. Not only can they kill your entire family like a normal villain can but they can also make you watch as your soul is sucked out by a dementor.
Another aspect of fantasy/paranormal stuff that is so appealing to me is the fact that there is always hope. I have read some of the more contemporary novels and I am somewhat disturbed by an emerging trend. I am all for realistic writing. I think that is important in many ways. I don't, however, seek out the books that are sad just to be sad. You know the ones. They end with something along the lines of "and everybody died and that is good because that's life. Suck it up." I can see how those books can be inspiring for some and necessary for others but for me, they are too difficult to read. I can read about death and destruction as long as there is some light at the end of the tunnel saying it is all worth it.
Fantasy/Paranormal books can also take the most mundane (haha...mundane) characters and give them power and strength. It gives everybody potential to defeat the giant and I think that is incredibly important. I don't want to be told that cancer or a car wreck or whatever may kill me someday. That's too grim and if that is what I was reading, I would probably be constantly paranoid and be a hypochondriac.
I want to be told that I can have the power to bring down walls. These books are inspiring and hopeful while often having true joy in them. The really really good balances with the really really bad and it all works. The battles between good and evil are epic in proportion and somehow validate to me that everything in the real world isn't as bad as it seems sometimes.
By the way Hogwarts, I'm still waiting for my letter. It's over 12 years late now.
So what do y'all think? Why do you read the books that you do, be it fantasy, YA or whatever?