Why Do We Read Books? | Discussion Thursday

Why Do We Read Books? | Discussion Thursday

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Hello bookworms and welcome back! Today is Thursday, which means it’s time for another instalment of my very own weekly meme, Discussion Thursday, where I discuss with you my bookish thoughts and musings on a specific topic. This week I’m going to address why we read books. With what purpose do we read books? Specifically, fiction books. For entertainment? To delve deeper into the issues that surround us in our world today? Fiction books, in my opinion are a work of art, that, for as amazing as they are at addressing real world issues and ideas and opening our eyes to issues, deserve to be valued as a work of art above all else and deserved to be enjoyed as one as well. 

Let’s discuss.


Fiction books come in all forms of genre and style and explore different ideas. Contemporaries tend to focus a lot around coming-of-age stories and issues that arise in teenage lives, such as romance, mental health, family and so on. You are all wonderfully committed bookworms, so you are probably nodding your heads rigorously at what I’m saying. And then we have fantasy and sci-fi – which are personally my favourite – that explore a wider variety of different things. 

But my view is that I see books, most importantly, as artwork that deserves to be enjoyed for what they are. Recently, I’ve been reading reviews – as I always do – and I’ve been noticing small comments within these reviews that have begun to get on my nerves, which is actually very surprising. And it’s when people say that the things that authors construct within the stories of their books, such as relationships, insta-love, love triangles (or love A’s if you’re familiar with Joey @ thoughts and afterthoughts), and many other things are unrealistic. Seriously?

Books were not written to be a reflection of the lives we live. I didn’t pick up a fiction novel like Throne of Glass, or Isla and the Happily Ever After, expecting to read about a girl who lives the same life as I do. No. I picked it up to escape from the life I live. To experience something that I could probably never experience and most likely might not never happen in the life I currently live in. 

Why do you read books? Because, if you’re being honest with yourself, I’m sure you would all agree with me, wouldn’t you bookworms? Honestly, I don’t know why comments such as “the insta-love in this book is so ridiculous and unrealistic” have started to bother me. Of course, it’s not about the insta-love. In many cases, insta-love is done in the most excruciatingly, cringe-worthy ways possible. And… another thought: is insta-love really unrealistic? Don’t we all catch a glimpse of someone and immediately become attracted to them? Of course, I know, the insta-love you are most likely complaining about is, meet one day, and the next day they are telling each other they can’t live without one another. I know, I get it. Back to the topic at hand. . . 

Over anything else, over the issues and ideas of life that books explore, which many explore so extremely well and get us to think so deeply about the world around us, the stories within books should not be critically assessed as being unrealistic. After all, why do we read books? Certainly not to get a biography of our lives, I’ll tell you that! Here’s why I read books:

– I read books to experience the kind of life that I could only ever dream about
– I read books to do things I’d never do in my real life (even if I’m only reading about the things characters do)
– I read books to get lost in worlds that are not my own
– I read to swoon over deeply complex bad boys and almost perfect male characters (this is such a vain point, but I will NOT deny it)
– I read to ship relationships despite how insta-lovey they are
– I read books BECAUSE they are so totally unrealistic and could never happen in real life

– I read because it’s an amazing source of entertainment that I would not give up, even for a lifetime of Netflix

I think one of the most important things to know, however, is that even though we read for entertainment and the unrealistic-ness that can most of the time come along with the stories, it doesn’t take away from the things we can learn from books. And even if we can’t learn from it, we are all, in the end, reading because it so extremely fun, am I right?! Sure, there are moments when certain books can totally kill things, such as insta–love. We all know how bad that can get. And yes, sometimes books can really butcher a plot line or do a horrible job at character development. Sure, criticise that. But commenting on a book saying it’s totally ridiculous and unrealistic? Books are meant to be unrealistic. They’re meant to be over the top with imagination. It’s why we love them so much! 


Why do YOU read books?

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38 responses to “Why Do We Read Books? | Discussion Thursday”

  1. Hmm I definitely agree that I read to experience things you simply can’t in real life, but unnatural interaction between characters does tend to throw me off. I think very authentic sounding interactions are possible in any setting, but I agree that some people who say things like ‘Oh that couldn’t happen in real life, they wouldn’t have been there at the same time’ etc. Really need to learn what reading is about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great topic, Josie! ❤ I totally agree on all accounts; books are our form of escape, and they are not meant to be realistic or copies of a boring life, especially in the case of fantasies, sci-fi's and dystopias. Of course, for contemporaries I would say it's necessary for people to be able to relate to at least some things, and it should be at least a bit realistic because, well, it's a contemporary, and usually I'd like, in a contemporary, to be able to relate with the story. Of course, why we read are also focused on the genres as well. We read romance to be immersed in a world like ours, with swoon-worthy guys that will cause us to smile and squeal endlessly. We read fantasties to be swept away in a world of imagination and creativity. You get my drift? 🙂 But at the core of it all, we read for entertainment, and unrealistic is kind of part of it all.
    As for insta-love (sorry for the dragged-on comment!) and book tropes, I think I personally enjoy most book tropes, unless they're done poorly or were unnecessary to the plot. I mean, no one likes a failed attempt at a love triangle, it messes up the whole story. Insta-love itself, I guess when you think about it, isn't that unrealistic as people make it seem, however I think in most cases, people are mistaking love for lust, which are both quite different things, and really common in books, I find. I mean, true love is quite hard to find even after a lot of time, and finding it immediately, so quickly? Instantly? I can definitely understand what people mean by unrealistic. But I guess that's the point of reading books, isn't it? I mean, I still enjoyed lots of books with insta-love, and sure, maybe it's a little unrealistic, but I still liked it! There's nothing wrong with a little unrealistic, and definitely not in books.
    Whoa, I just realized I'm getting way too carried away. This was such a thinking topic, Josie! Awesome job on this. 🙂 Hope you don't mind my huge comment! Lol, and I wasn't even finished… this comment could be one whole blog post! XD Anyway, have a great weekend! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh, don’t apologise for responding with such a long comment! I love it when I can generate discussion like this! It actually makes me really happy that you responded this way.
      I’m glad you understand and agree with my points! And yes, true, contemporaries need to sway a little closer to the realistic side, because contemporaries are meant to be written in our modern world. Situations in contemporaries should be at least something we can imagine happening to someone around the world. So I suppose with contemporaries, that should be the case, but any subtleties that may seem unrealistic in a way, don’t bother me. I like reading about extreme situations that I would never get into.
      And yes, even I mistake insta-love for insta-lust sometimes, and I have to give myself a little slap in the face! Hehe.
      And I do also enjoy most book tropes in books that are done well. It kills the mood entirely when they are not executed properly indeed.

      THANK YOU so much for this comment! And please feel free to write a blog post in response to this topic! I would love to see it. xoxo

      Like

  3. I think one of the most extraordinary things about books is that they- like dreams- can leave you with a feeling you’ve never had before and didn’t even know existed. Books may have nothing to do with me or my life, but I find they’re a great way for me to discover myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I might have to draw the line at giving up a lifetime subscription of Netflix…I love my television too much.

    In terms of realism, it really depends on the story itself. I don’t think the overarching conflict is something that most people question; it’s the subtleties that can be the problem. I wave the unrealistic banner not because I don’t think it’s something I’d see myself (or others) acting out on but rather given the reigns of the story, their actions aren’t reflective of what’s in their characters or the coincidences/consequences that they bear.

    Like, I’m sorry but when there’s a holistic teaching moment to be kind and demonstrate that “knight and shining armor; save the day” mentality when you’re a teenager–the development has has to be there to support it, otherwise, I’d just think this kid is a fool for risking his own life for another. Then, it’s considered “unrealistic” in terms of the flaws with young-adult invincibility complex. The worst offenders are characters who don’t experience cuts and bruises on their journey. That’s an issue of realism for me.

    But in terms of why read, I don’t often question the artistic value or what-have-you unless I’m ranting about it. It just sort of is–an experience that just happens–like television, like music, like most things. A medium to pass time (it sounds worse than it is).

    Long rants are long.

    Cheers,
    Joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

    Like

    • Thank you very much for discussing with the topic, even if it is a little long 😂
      Ah, yes I didnt think you would agree with the Netflix thing.
      I see what you mean, with the little things. I agree with that.
      The knight in shining armour idea and the “invincible protagonist” are things that do actually bother me in books. I would call these over the top unrealistic, and those are exceptions in terms of my discussion here.
      Yep, exactly. Its an experience, most definitely.
      Thank you for stopping by! 😁

      Like

  5. I loveto read to feel the emotions and the feeling sof the characters. Also to learn about history that happened in other times.Reading is fun and can be educational too.
    Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never really minded insta-love as long as they were done well. I mean, Jack and Rose from Titanic fell in love within the span of three days but I love their love! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This post is awesome!!!! And I totally agree with you about the insta-love thing, I know people complain all the time if people see each other in books and immediately have a crush on each other or something, but I don’t find that unrealistic at all, I’ve seen that happen all the time in real life. Honestly, there aren’t any forms of love that a unrealistic, it can at any time, any way. Though, if two people have known each other for a day and then commit suicide over their failed relationship (*cough* Shakespeare *cough*) that totally is unrealistic.
    I LOVED ALL OF THIS POST!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!!!
      I’m glad you agree with what I said. Insta-love has never bothered me extremely but yes, when characters go to extremes such as suicide, I can’t handle that! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I intend to do a discussion post in response to some of the things you’ve said here because you’ve really got me thinking, especially about the comments about how “unrealistic” something is. I did want to drop a couple of points here, though.

    No, not everyone has seen a person and been immediately attracted to them. People who are asexual or demisexual by definition (generally, as I’m sure there are exceptions) do not experience that. Just a small note. That tends to be why insta-love bugs me, personally. I’m fine with insta-lust–I don’t get it, but I know it’s a thing. Insta-love, however, emphasis on the love part, is something I have a very hard time believing.

    I read books because I adore language, and I like seeing real people on the pages emerging from someone’s imagination. I like imagining worlds with magic, or without it but still somehow different from our own. I read because it plays with my emotions in a way other things don’t, or don’t do safely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Please do a discussion, I’d love to hear your thoughts in response to this and I am so happy that it got you thinking!
      Ah yes, I see what you mean with the insta-love. And thank you for that little note! You learn something every day, it seems.
      Yeah, I understand that insta-LOVE is difficult. It does irritate me at times too, and I suppose, in some instances, people mistake insta-love for insta-lust. I probably should have mentioned that somewhere in this post.

      And the reasons for why you read? Those are also reasons I read. Words have always spoken to me on deeper levels. They more than any other type of entertainment, pull at my emotions the most and stir up my imagination extremely. I also do love seeing an author’s world and characters come to life. It’s an amazing experience, reading.
      Thank you so much for your response! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What an interesting post! I think that all books are unrealistic in some way, but whether or not they are believable doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of reading! You can still learn and take things away from books whatever their genre! Personally I’m not keen on romancey novels so I can’t really comment in the believability of them. When it comes to science fiction though, it may be easier to relate the story if there is something believable or recognisable for the reader but surely part of reading is to explore imagined worlds and places?
    Great post! 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m glad you agree with me. Believability I think shouldn’t be so heavily criticised in books, because, after all they were not made to be totally realistic. And when something ina story is out of the ordinary, sometimes it can really help to push further any concepts that the author is trying to portray!
      Yes, I agree with what you think of science fiction too! But exploring new worlds is totally the best thing ever, in my opinion. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I read books to grow as a person. I read to escape from mundane life activities. I read to live life of other people. I read to go to places which are beyond my reach in reality. I love fantasy lands where everything is magical.
    And I totally relate to every word you said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! Those are incredible reasons which I can totally agree with too. Books can really help us grow as individuals. And fantasy lands are just the best, honestly.
      I’m glad you could relate! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a brilliant discussion! As well as for you, for me books are an escape. But not only that, what I mainly expect of a book is that it takes somewhere better. So, pretty much I love (and mostly read) stories that I know they are gonna provide me some time of “happily ever after”. I might be naive by doing that, but I just don’t like plain drama, or those books that you finish with a “I despise the world” feeling. And of course, same applies to movies (so, yes, you guess well if you think I mainly watch Disney and rom-com). That’s just my perspective, there’s enough drama in the world and our lives are not always easy, so what’s better than escape from that and go somewhere better for some hours? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion! It’s been playing on my mind for the past two days, so I thought it was perfect to talk about it this Thursday.
      I don’t think it’s naive at all, I agree with you completely. I love going into books that take me not only to a place of escape, but one that is better than our own (even if they are dystopian books, which have pretty bleak worlds). I ADORE happily ever afters, and the feelins when you end a book on that kind of note makes me swoon and feel so incredibly good. And I agree, with all types of entertainment, movies, TV shows, that’s what I like too.
      Yes! There is way too much drama in our world. Of course, I love myself a good light-hearted drama, such as the kind of drama in Gossip Girl, but a good old adventure never gets old for me.
      Thank you for stopping by. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great topic Josie! I read books so I can escape to a world where anything is possible.Like you I mostly prefer to read fantasy cause they are so wonderful and amazing to explore.I’ve seen so many people hating Triangles in a plot but I think they are the reason which makes it a lot more interesting if it is executed in the right way. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you agree! And fantasy is a genre I could never get sick of. If I had to read any genre for the rest of my life, just give me all the fantasy books, I’ll survive with that.
      And definitely, I think love triangles really bring tension and excitement to a book. Of course, some books have some really unnecessary love triangles. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great topic.

    I have to admit that when I’m reading contemporany, the unrealistic characteristics sometimes give me pause. I’m fine with whatever thing a fantasy novel throws at me. But if I’m reading a book about a 17 yo in highschool and her family/boy drama, I want to be able to believe it and relate at least in some part with it.

    I read to get lost in the words, because our world is crazy enough as it is.

    i don’t mind most troops of YA cont. books, but they have to be well done. I never mind insta-love (or attraction), but for instance, in Girl Online I thought it was very poorly done, so I had a problem with it…. for all the problems that Twilight had, I had no problem with that part 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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