Well, now I can justify what I’ve known since fourth grade: fiction helps you figure out life. According to an article in the Canadian paper Globe and Mail (thanks ALA American Libraries Direct email!),
…fiction acts as a type of simulator. Reading about make-believe people having make-believe adventures or whirlwind romances may actually help people navigate those trials in real life.
In college, I remember reading Seventeen Against the Dealer, where Dicey Tillerman goes through the school of hard knocks. I was studying for finals, and I was able to read a chapter of Dicey’s trials, put the book down, and study some more.
My tactic now is a little less literary, but still uses fiction, and until recently, my library. Oh goodness, I’m about to give you my secret: I love Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte (the protagonists on Sex and the City.) Before I got my stimulus check and purchased the entire six seasons, I got SATC DVDs from my library. And because you have to cue up each episode, that’s a half hour of fiction, and only a half hour. You have to work the remote or get up after each episode. Well, I generally go switch my laundry or do something housework-y while the credits roll.
Right now (among other books) I’m reading a book called It’s in the bag, which is about how purses are defining fashion today, with a little bit of history. Right now my purse can carry three library books, woo hoo! And I didn’t pay $375 for it, which is the low end of the purses described in the book. In a conversation with a nurse yesterday (she always asks me what I’m reading), we got into a discussion on how single women have different priorities with money than married women who might have families and mortgages…which of course bring us back to Carrie and gang.
My hairdresser said, “I never watched the show. I don’t get HBO. I’ve seen a couple episodes on TBS, but I don’t get it.” Well, I said, it’s not for everybody. And I don’t even have cable, until recently, I got the DVDs at the library. (YES! you can get seasons of everything at the library!)
I can tell this post is all over the place and I may wait to publish (or not?) but I guess I’m trying to make the case that story is POWERFUL. It can make someone want to study for their finals in college, get them to do a load of dishes as an apartment-dweller, and I can’t even begin to talk about the fifth and sixth grader who depended on books as her only constant friends in a time of slim pickings for human companionship.
And story is so powerful that I now work to bring books and stories to people every day. Read the article linked above. It’s a really good one.
Until next time…