Okay, so if you know me, you know I’m a Harry Potter fan. I saw the latest movie for the second time today and I loved it all over again. My sister and I were talking the other day about the HP series and what exactly is the appeal for us. We both mentioned the incredible storytelling, the satisfactory ending, the humor, and so on. I think people read for three reasons: it’s required; to learn something; or to escape (or be entertained, which can be the same thing). I know I’ve read for all those reasons. I was forced to read books I would never really care to read while in college. I read books about pregnancy while I was pregnant to try to understand that mirace of life (and what I should expect during that traumatizing moment of labor). And I love to read Harry Potter whenever I need to just be entertained for a while. I think these can all intersect, of course. You can learn things from fiction. You can be entertained even by required reading. It’s part of what makes reading so worthwhile.
I’m reading this fantastic book called The Christian Imagination, which is where I found this great quote by G.K.Chesterton: “Human beings cannot be human without some field of fancy or imagination; some vague idea of the romance of life and even some holiday of the mind in a romance that is a refuge from life.” I love that: holiday of the mind in a romance that is a refuge from life. Do we need a refuge from life? Um, I’m just speaking for me here but I say yes. If you don’t think so, then your life is more perfect than mine or you’re just better at coping than I am. (Both of which are fine.)
Remember Anne of Green Gables? I can hear Anne telling Marilla (in regard to Marilla’s lack of imagination), “Oh, Marilla, how much you miss.” Now I know that not everyone is a Harry Potter fan, and that’s okay. We can all enjoy different styles and genres of books. But, for me, the escape of that kind of reading is something I would not want to miss. I am certain that I could never be as creative as J.K.Rowling, but I can enjoy her creativity as much as I want.
Perhaps literature isn’t always designed to be an escape. I’m thinking of some of those very boring books which feel more like a life sentence, rather than an escape. But then there are those moments when you find some piece of literature that turns out to be just what you needed. Maybe you connect with the message. Maybe you just love the story. Maybe it challenged and amazed you. If you haven’t found that lately, you might consider taking a quick trip to Barnes & Noble.