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Why do people read novels?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Eureka!, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    I will only read a novel if it is witty. Plot has no interest for me. Nor do obscure messages. If I want to read messages, I would like them clearly and explicitly expressed.
  2. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    No idea!

    I'm always reminding my class to try different authors and genres so I publicly vowed that I would read some 'classics' during the summer hols. I have now found that Northanger Abbey irritates the heck out of me (long sentences and manners... and s*d all else). And Mrs Dalloway just left me bemused.
  3. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    Perhaps the pleasure of image-ing the words?
  4. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    A more interesting question is why do people write novels?

    Best steer clear of poetry then. What's that all about?
  5. jacob

    jacob Lead commenter

    I read them for entertainment and imagination. I think people who do not are deficient in both. While I think classics and English literature are way overblown and far too much importance is put on them, and far too much time wasted on them (I mean in schools, you can read 'em all you want outside), there is a huge need for reading material at all ages. Unless of course you are a "m" word. Children delight in stories. It is probably imagination that makes us human.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Why? WHY?

    For escapism. For enrichment. For vicarious experience.

    I haven't much troubled the world of international espionage. But I imagine it might be quite exciting and like to suppose myself the sort of person who'd be capable of a bit of skulduggery.

    I was born 54 years after the death of Queen Victoria and detest London but it doesn't stop me wondering what life was like. And, by reading Dickens, I give myself to believe that I gain an insight into such lives.

    Neither do I much frequent the courtrooms of the United States but I'm not averse to a bit of Grisham.

    In short, it's a window into other worlds. Even if utterly spurious.
  7. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    It's all about plot for me

    and avoiding the housework
  8. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    GDW has expressed it well. I rarely read anything other than a novel. A recent study showed that fiction readers have enhanced empathy. You spend so much time considering the motivation of characters in a wide range of situations. It is my favourite forum of escapism. I don't understand why people watch sport.
  9. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    GDW is right. Escaping into another world, vicarious experiences, just sheer enjoyment. I like my novels to be straightforward with a proper beginning, middle and end. I like a bit of a twist now and then. I like happy endings!

    I read contemporary fiction now and probably should re read the classics, but there are sooo many new ones to go for.

    I can lose myself when I read- be anyone I want to be and anywhere I want. It's the pictures in your head, the way your imagination works with the story. I can do the same with audio books but TV takes away your imagination - it's there in front of you.
  10. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I don't read a lot of fiction but when I do it is for exactly those reasons. I like 'counterfactual' novels, based of how people would have coped and interacted with each other in worlds that might have been.
  11. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    For enjoyment. For seeing the world in a different way. To be moved. To escape from reality. To be surprised. To change my current mood.

    Pretty much what GDW says.

    There are novels I have read that have affected me on so many different levels. The effects of a good story can linger for months.

    Saying that, I also enjoy factual books. Currently re-reading "London: A Biography", by Peter Aykroyd. It's fascinating.
  12. cosmosinfrance

    cosmosinfrance Star commenter

    All those reasons
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes, losing yourself.

    Getting a glimpse of an alternate reality.

    That could be what life was like in the past.

    Or life in contemporary Britain but in another stratum of society. Or life somewhere else on this planet.

    Or what the future might look like.

    And avoiding the housework!

    Speculation. Wonder.

    Why DON'T people read fiction?? What's WRONG with them? Didn't Winnie the Pooh mean anything to them? Did no childhood tales stir you? Have you no soul?
  14. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter


    Eureka, I'm surprised you need to ask "why". Even if you can't bear fiction yourself. I mean, I can understand why some people love watching golf on tv, or reading about Napolean's tactical military genius. It's not for me, but hey. I GET it.

    Nevertheless, thank you for starting an enjoyable thread. :)
  15. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    Apart from a way of experiencing vicariously another world (historical, geographical, cultural etc) it's a way experiencing the world through another's eyes and understanding the way they think if not agreeing with it. I do believe that people who don't read fiction have less empathy and I include my husband in that. He sees issues in a very black and white way whereas I can see how a person might come to believe something even if I think they are wrong - maybe that's a chicken and egg thing - I enjoy fiction because I can do that.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    We're all right and Eury is just wrong/imaginatively-challenged. It's a disability, innit? I don't think there's treatment. You have my sympathy, Eury.

    To be honest I do actually feel sorry for people who don't enjoy novels. Do they also not enjoy films or music? They are missing SO much!
  17. cosmosinfrance

    cosmosinfrance Star commenter

    No, Eury said he does read novels but they have to be witty with no hidden messages!
  18. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Do novels need to be read? How about listening to them via audio books? Do you find the experience the same, enhanced or not so good?
  19. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    I prefer to have the narrative inside my head. At a push, say if I was painting or driving and needed my hands, I would consider an audio book (although music would be my choice for that sort of thing usually)
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    No, no, no.

    The reader of an audio-book detracts enormously from the pleasure. They can have the finest voice and be the most accomplished actor but the speed is too slow and the intonation is never just right.

    It's mostly a question of reading-rate for me, I think. But it's MY world. I don't want anyone else to intrude into it. I mould it.

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