I’ve seen some questions lately about reading in the current climate. How can we focus on books right now? How can we talk about reading at a time like this? And the answer for me is simple- how can you not? When times are uncertain, when we’re facing hardship and when the future is uncertain, there’s nothing better than to get lost in books.
Books can take us far away from reality. They are like shining unicorns, carrying us off into new worlds and different experiences. Reading, for me, has always been a great escape. Beyond understanding the world a bit better and making sense of ourselves, it is also an opportunity to switch off.
That doesn’t mean turning a blind eye or doing nothing- I’m not saying that at all. Just that sometimes life is out of our control, sometimes you can’t mend what’s broken and sometimes we have to make the best of bad circumstances. Sometimes all we can do is take the foot off the accelerator and slow down. And I don’t know about you, but for me that can be a relief.
As important as it is to face up to reality or our emotions, it’s not always the best idea to overwhelm our nervous systems (ie until we become a nervous wreck). We can take limited doses of chaos before we need a little order. That’s why escapism can prove so medicinal. It can help keep our lives in orbit when the planets of fortune don’t align. It can be a healthy coping mechanism. It is an oasis, a calm in the storm, a place to go to recharge. It frees the mind and helps us breathe easier.
More than that: it makes us stronger (as Sorcery of Thorns beautifully illustrated for me recently). Through books, we trek off into fantasy lands and learn how to defeat dragons in our own lives. From quests, we come to realise how to navigate the wilds so we too can be heroes. Then we take those treasures back to our own world. It’s only after acquiring this knowledge that we can be ready to face whatever life throws at us next.
So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What’s your view on reading as escapism? Is it valuable or a waste of time? Let me know in the comments!