Writing Wednesday: What is it about stories?

I was watching the World Book Night programmes on BBC2 the other night and I started thinking that our obsession with books and stories is a bit… odd. I mean, it’s wonderful, obviously, but isn’t it strange that so much time and money and passion and discussion is expended on stories made up in people’s heads?

It made me think about people I’ve known in the past who’ve only read non-fiction because they’re not interested in “made up stories”. And then it made me think about Harry who, when I tell him a story that he thinks is funny or interesting in some way, will ask me to tell him over and over again.

So I just wanted to ask a quick question: why do you read fiction? What’s the fascination with stories made up in strangers’ heads?!

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6 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: What is it about stories?

  1. I read it to escape into someone else’s life! That sounds like I have no life of my own, but it’s so busy that it’s noce not to think about my own life for a bit and to think about someone else’s!

  2. I think that we are hard-wired to see patterns of cause and effect in order to make sense of the world and that our love of stories is part of this. Stories help us make sense of our own experiences, but they also provide a comforting sense of order and resolution that isn’t always apparent in ‘real life’.

  3. I just think it is nice to be able to travel the world without moving from your chair. I am probably quite nosy and love being able to sit in on other people’s lifes and problems for awhile.

  4. I always think people who don’t read fiction as odd. I can’t imagine not reading. I love it when a book is good enough to make me think about the characters after I have finished the book.

    I think it is escapism and entertainment. It’s great when you quite literally can’t put a book down. I love being able to discuss books with friends. I am though surprised that reading a book is seen as a good thing but watching telly as bad. reading is still indulgent and stopping you from doing things like the housework.

  5. Well, of course the first requirement is that whatever story I read, goes without saying that it has to be well written. I agree with Vivienne that we’re all probably a bit nosy and want to know about other people’s lives. But then again, as we all know, many authors take their own life experiences and mix ’em up a bit so it’s not all made up stuff. I love a memoir or a biography as much as a novel but if any book is badly written then it doesn’t matter how much imagination an author may have, it’s wasted on me. I like the way that books encourage me to think and look at things from different perspectives – open my eyes to things I may not have previously known. People who don’t like to read fiction are missing so much. I love to read everything, everywhere. (And if it’s badly written, put it to one side…) Plus – some of the books I read aren’t written by strangers with good imaginations – pleased to say I know them! 😉 xx
    P.S. Love that picture.

  6. I’ve been thinking about this all day and I’m still not sure I have an answer. Escaping is definitely a big factor to me reading fiction, since I was a young child I’ve always turned to a book for solace.

    I think the fiction also offers the ability to experience something you wouldn’t necessarily be able to experience other ways – I’ve read books set in places I’m unlikely to ever visit, and in times long gone.

    Reading about people’s lives and experiences is also a huge draw for me, though this one I still can’t explain. Maybe it’s nosiness, maybe it’s something else. I really don’t know. All I know is I can’t imagine a life without books and diving from one story to the next.

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