Why you should be reading fantasy

ORIGINAL COVER — This is the cover art for the first printing of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first book in the trilogy that would come to define the fantasy genre. (Open Culture)


I love stories. Stories have always been one of my favorite  parts of life. There is just something incredible about a well  told story. My favorite stories have all been fantasy. I grew up reading “Eragon”, “Lord of  the Rings”, the “Redwall” series and many books that are  likely not well -known enough to be listed. Fantasy raised me, shaped my imagination and my interests, and fueled who I am today, truth be told. Yet fantasy books always seem to conjure negative images and feelings from many people. It always seems to make people think of overweight, unkempt men and video games. Perhaps people think of action figures and role playing. I have heard that it is only an escape for people who hate their lives. I have heard that it is childish.  Whatever it is, fantasy has always had a bit of a bad rap. I  love fantasy and I don’t think that it deserves the reputation that it has received. First and foremost, I heard often that  people only use fantasy to escape realities that they don’t  like. I think that not only is that an admirable service that good fantasy can provide, but often it just isn’t true. I know  personally the worlds and stories I always read were simply  imagination fuel, something to make my good life better. I’ll admit, there have been times where I found comfort in these other worlds, but I believe that having an outlet like that is  only good, especially when that outlet is cathartic and healthy. Every now and then I’ll hear something about how fantasy is low writing of some kind, as if it is inferior to other genres simply by nature of the content. I would disagree strongly with that. Simply read the “Lord of the Rings”, “Game of Thrones”, or “the Dragonbone Chair “and  the level of writing will become apparent. Are there some  poorly written fantasy books? Yes, just like any other genre, but it takes real literary skill  to not only tell a story beautifully, but to entirely fabricate  that story. One thing I have  heard is that fantasy is childish, that it is somehow hurtful  to your adulthood to immerse yourself into a world of magic and swords. I would make this argument: why is imagination such a bad thing? Fantasy is the ultimate imaginative endeavor,  creating whole worlds, creatures and cultures. As kids we  buy into it happily and freely, running around as if we have suddenly entered the world of our choice. Then as adults, these worlds become more closed off, less accepted. We are forced to focus more and more on our world and how we should act and move in it. While I do not think that is a bad thing, I think there is more than enough room for both. and I truly believe that a little more imagination would do most people a whole lot of good. As things like “Game of Thrones” gain popularity, people are beginning to see the value in fantasy.


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