We read fiction books like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and To Kill a Mockingbird to escape from our problems or kill the “drag” of our life. This is what we do with most of our books. I’m reviewing Shakespeare right now for a professional exam, and although he brings us comical and tragic characters, and makes us laugh with their mistaken identities — only scholars today read Shakespeare for fun. Today we read Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, and Harper Lee. Many people say we don’t read Shakespeare for enjoyment because of the archaic or difficult to understand language. I disagree. I think it has a lot to do with technology today. Most of Shakespeare’s plot situations are not probable to happen today and are not relatable. Take mistaken identity for example, in The Comedy of Errors (1595). The characters are family and make a mistake identifying each other. Today most of us check Facebook or Tinder if we’re meeting someone new — so we have an idea of what they look like. Today comedy needs to be a little more creative.
Today we love Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments, and even tattoo quotes and symbols on our bodies. Fiction is fun to read, and, as you can see, it does have a big influence on us. It makes us want to go out and get bookish tattoos. I’m an English teacher, and as much time as I spend reading English literature, novels, and short stories — I spend a lot of time reading books that are NOT fiction — one is The Quran — the holy book of the Muslims. I read 6 pages every morning, and at least 1 page at every prayer, and I recite a supplication before meals, before stepping into the bathroom, before washing up before prayer, and wishing my family, friends, and students well. A total of about 8 pages of the Quran a day.
Stories may entertain us, and make us feel at home, but they also influence the way we think and see the world. If we spent all our free time reading fiction — at the end of the day, it would not bring us peace nor solace — it defies the principles of the human experience and human wonder. We were not born to just be entertained. The biggest question we ask ourselves is WHY ARE WE HERE? The Hunger Games will tell you – to destroy the capitol. Percy Jackson will tell you to be a hero in your own life. Harry Potter will tell you to love. To Kill a Mockingbird will tell you to not be a racist. Of course, I’m being extremely simplistic right now. As far as the message of the books go, that can be debated, but this is sufficient for the purposes of this blog post.
After we read these books, we’re left wondering: But how do we become heroes? Who should we love and how? How do we stop racism?
I mean, even before our mind begs these questions — I feel like we read to know who we are and why we’re here. Fiction books will entertain us, but they don’t ever tell us why we’re here. We can imply the meaning, but an author’s job is write a story to entertain us, not to explain the meaning of life. One of the earliest English novels, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) by John Bunyun, an allegory for the life of a Christian started as a religious book which portrayed man who had to fight goblins, walked through the valley of the shadow of death to make it to the beautiful Celestial City. Today almost all fiction books are secular — at least the ones that sell. However, rarely, there are religious elements in the books, like in Harry Potter. I’ve started a discussion about that on my other blog. You can check that out if that floats your boat.
But The Quran explains why we’re here, and gives peace when life gets you down. You don’t merely feel happy or smile after a long hard day, you learn that the day was worth it, there are good things to come, and God always rewards his servants. There is no promise of winning the Hunger Games destroying them, or finding all the Horcuxes, but there’s the promise you will get to where you’ve always wanted to go — here on Earth and in the Hereafter. You don’t just get a paycheck, you get a sense of serenity that you’re toil is not fruitless. You feel closer to your family, your Creator, and you feel better as you. You get more than a range of emotions you get from a 1000 page book or trilogy in a mere 604 pages.
So that’s all that I have for now! I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts! This post does not mean that I will stop writing about fiction, just some thoughts I’ve been having I thought I would share with you. I will be back this weekend for more A to Z challenge posts. Feel free to mention some nonfiction books that have had a personal impact on you down below. Take care and have a great Thursday!