I guess this post can be a mash-up of today’s assignment and an assignment from a few weeks ago that I didn’t get to: Be Inspired by the Community.
Today’s Daily Prompt—The Great Divide: When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or nonfiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?—made me immediately think of a quote from a recent post over at The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh! The quote explains how a person’s personality influences her preference for either science fiction or fantasy:
“Fans of science fiction (and dystopia) want to explore ways to change our existing world. Fans of fantasy want to explore ways to escape the limitations of this world.”
I begin with this because when I read for fun, I always gravitate towards fiction and the type of fiction I tend to choose is fantasy. Even when I decide to take a break from fiction and choose a nonfiction book, I still tend to pick up compendiums of essays that discuss fiction or mythology.
The quote above helps to explain why these are my choices. I do seek ways to escape the limitations of this world, even in my simple everyday tasks. While walking down the road, I may see a structure or doorway that tickles my imagination into wondering if it’s a portal to a world that operates on a different time (faster or slower than ours), and that’s filled with magical creatures and odd experiences waiting to happen. Sometimes I walk through such imagined portals, excited at the prospect of what could happen to me: Would I immediately exit through the other side, or would I first live a separate life before exiting to continue my present one? Sometimes I think C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has left too strong an impression on my imagination. (My friends and family probably think this too.)
But I find it exhilarating to consider the possibilities beyond the limitations of this world, of this universe. My imagination carries me on wild rides that can brighten any boring day. And those rides are influenced by the types of books I read. What if there is magic in this world? Would that explain the existence and occurrence of things that we often chalk up to certain scientific theories? Was J.K. Rowling hinting at something with her wizarding world hidden from us muggles? I enjoy playing with the possibilities these questions provide and crafting stories to match them. I can get so engrossed in the fantastical stories floating in my mind sometimes that I appear to others as one with her head in the clouds. But this daydreaming does help me through a dull day.
I believe the first part of the quote is true as well. I tend to shy away from science fiction because I think it shows what our world could be and I find that scary. These thoughts are probably influenced by the dystopian novels I’ve read, which is about all the science fiction I’ve exposed myself to. But I do find it interesting how some things that authors imagined years ago are now being invented/used. This makes me think of an article by Ryan Britt over at Tor.com. It’s titled “The Future of the Book as Depicted in Science Fiction.” While reading it, I couldn’t help musing at how inklings at the e-reader and the Ipad can be found in stories written a few years ago. The description of the guide in H.G. Wells’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that Britt provides makes me think of the e-reader and he points out similarities between Star Trek’s PADD (Personal Access Display Device) and today’s iPad. (I had a similar conversation about this a few months ago with my friend. We were discussing comics and 3-D movies and he came up with some great examples of how certain inventions in comics are being created today but I can’t recall those examples unfortunately :(.)
Despite my misgivings towards science fiction, I would like to try a book or three. I definitely want to read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because I’ve heard of it many times and I enjoyed the movies based on it. I also find the steampunk sub-genre tempting and I can’t wait to jump into it. If you have any suggestions of great steampunk novels, please let me know. Science fiction may not be my fit, but I am willing to try it a bit to see if I may be wrong in semi-ignoring it.
As for nonfiction, I tend to hop to those books whenever I need a break…or a book cover catches my eye (thinking of you, Imagine). There are also times when it’s the book’s topic that propels me to read, as is the case with my current read, Dataclysm, Who We Are by Christian Rudder, which uses data to investigate human behavior. I just completed the first chapter and so far it’s great. Rudder’s prose is clear and engaging and the book’s subject is sure to keep you hooked…or make you paranoid about the internet. But with nonfiction it’s a free-for-all. I tend to lean more towards the social sciences and humanities but I don’t mind dabbling in other subjects as long as the material is interesting and the prose isn’t tedious.
But either way—fiction or nonfiction; fantasy or science fiction—I’m simply glad for the ability to read what I want whenever I want, and the experiences gained from the exercise, whether it’s discovering something new or visiting a different world.
- Hi! My name is… (zezeewithbooks.wordpress.com)