Books are . . . portals, addictive, powerful, life, opportunities, worlds at your fingertips.
These are a few words used to answer the prompt recently posted on my Facebook page. But one of the most common words readers tend to gravitate to is this:
Books are an escape.
You know the spiel: “Leave reality behind!” “Escape into a new world!” Books are portals to temporary freedom from real life.
This is probably one of the most depressing book-quotes I’ve ever read. It’s already deciding that books will be more exciting than my own life. But God didn’t create us to have boring lives.
How many authors had “escapism” in mind when they wrote their books? I know I didn’t. Most authors hope to impress the readers with some sort of message. Maybe even hoping that message will change the reader’s life and actions.
When you read a book, do you use it to escape?
I used to. Only now do I realize that reading books is a waste of time if you don’t let them change you. If books really are “portals” then they should leave you somewhere you weren’t when you finish them. Somewhere enlightened.
If you know anything about my book, A Time to Die, you know I value the usage of time. I’ve re-evaluated everything I do that takes time, including the “hobby” of reading books. My conclusion is that I can’t excuse the hours I spend reading a fantasy book if they provide me only with escapism.
God put us on earth for a purpose. And “escapism” is when we avoid that purpose.
I’m not saying we can’t enjoy the portal-like magic behind a book, but we need to gain more from it than a simple eight hours of escape. Let that fantasy book inspire you to pursue a braver faith and epic life. Or learn how not to write from that time-travel flop. Or think about what you want to add to this nation’s future after finishing that dystopian trilogy.
Every book is written with a purpose. We, as readers, should read every book with our own purpose—to learn, to apply, to be inspired . . . and to grow in our faith.
So what do you think? Should we avoid reading for escapism?
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Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released fall 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband.