Thursday, February 22, 2018

Real Life or Escape Fiction?

Yesterday Danica posted about how she included some real life elements in her books, and many of the comments indicated that other authors do as well. This reminded me of discussions I've seen  about whether people want to read about real life problems and people in their fiction or whether they prefer the fantasy of idealized people living in a perfect world.

I thought that might be an interesting topic for today because so many people tell us they read Love Inspired Books to help them through difficult times in their lives.

Imagine that she's seeing a book's story!



Do you read for escape or do you enjoy reading books that help you wrestle with the kinds of problems people encounter on a daily basis?

Do books help you deal with problems?

I thought I'd start off by sharing some of my own thoughts.



I used to read solely for escape and pleasure - but that was before I began reading Christian fiction. I loved to read long historical sagas about places and times I could never visit, but I could experience through literature. I read historical romances and eventually contemporary ones and lived the perfect life vicariously.



But somewhere along the way, I started noticing that I was finishing those books with a feeling of dissatisfaction - not with the book, but with my own life. All those fabulous lives left me feeling less than ordinary. And that is not a good thing. I want to be grateful for all the blessings in my life, not comparing them to some fictional super-life.

But - if I'm already struggling through difficult times, does reading about someone else's problems help?



Maybe.

I've found with Christian fiction that if the characters witness in a way that is inspirational, I can draw strength and even renewed faith from reading about their journeys.

Fallible people living less than perfect lives can still be living perfectly wonderful lives in service of the God who gave us life. That is inspirational to me.

So talk to me - about your books - the ones you read and the ones you've written. Are you all about ideal lives or about drawing inspiration from others? Happy times or difficult ones? Real life struggles or that perfect life?



33 comments:

  1. I like to read both types. Sometimes when life is toughest, I just can’t handle reading a stressful book. I want something light and fluffy! But other times, I want something with meat in it. Something to inspire me to a better life.

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    1. Hi Sherri, thanks for commenting.
      I totally agree. After I posted this yesterday, I ended up taking my husband to the ER by ambulance. Sure wasn't looking for anything realistic to read then. But sometimes light and fluffy won't cut it in that kind of situation either. I think I need a good LI or LIS or LIH today. :)

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    2. I hope your husband is okay, Cate! Praying!

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  2. I like to read both types: real life as well as escape fiction. As for writing, I like writing characters who are young adults dealing with current mainstream dating realities, how to make more conservative choices about dating, marriage and family in today's world. A lot of it is idealistic, but I am also reflecting upon what seemed to be realistic when I was a younger woman.

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    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for adding your thoughts. I wish you well with your writing. I think YA literature is so important to our future.

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  3. I agree with Sherri. It depends on what mood I'm in. Sometimes, you truly just want to escape, so nothing too heavy.

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    1. Definitely, Mary. I am ready for a great escape right now.

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  4. I agree with the other comments so far. Both, depending on where my life is at the moment. Sometimes a light and happy, positive book is perfect. Other times I draw strength from the characters' struggle and faith journey.

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    1. That sounds just like me, Christine. It also makes me conscious when I write - am I giving characters others can draw strength from. I hope so.

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  6. Just an FYI - if you saw my comment to Sherri, I unexpectedly ended up with my husband in the hospital for observation so I don't know how much I'll be able to be back to comment today.

    Thank you to all who visit. I will check in as I can and look forward to the conversation.

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  7. Sending prayers to you, Cate. Keep me s posted!!

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  8. I read for pleasure, escape and also for research.

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    1. There's always that research. Sometimes those are the most fun, though.

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  9. In never considered reading as an escape, although I've heard people talking about it for years. I just like a good story. I want to be entertained.

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    1. Merrillee, I always think of those old Calgon ads - Calgon, take me away. Only mine is a book.

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  10. So sorry your husband is back in the hospital, Cate! Sending prayers!

    I know I've been uplifted through difficult times by reading about characters who find strength in their faith, even when neither they nor their lives are anywhere close to perfect. When I do read secular fiction, I notice more and more when the faith element is missing entirely or Christianity is skewed or misrepresented.

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    1. Thanks, Myra. Very true. I find I need that uplifting read more and more also.

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  11. Praying for your husband, Cate! This is a wonderful topic. I become disenchanted with books that present characters as perfect, especially Christian characters. We Christians are just like everyone else, except we live in the grace of Christ Jesus. Doesn't mean we don't mess up or that we don't struggle with our desires and our convictions. This life is not Heaven, after all. I do like fun reads, and I appreciate the fact that many times readers want light and airy. The most profound books, however, are those that show us characters overcoming the problems with which we all struggle.

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    1. Thank you, Arlene. I think I find books with perfect Christians perhaps more difficult. Not sure why except that it makes me feel like I fall far short!

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  12. I'm finding less time to read, which isn't good. Also, I'm reading like an editor or writer, trying to learn how someone else handles various situations in a story. Does anyone else do that?

    What do I like to read? Suspense, so I want something that takes me on a wild adventure, which hopefully would never happen in real life. :)

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    1. I'm having that problem as well, Debby. And when I do find time, so many things are competing for mental space that I find it difficult to concentrate. I know a book is excellent when it can get me past that.

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  13. Continued prayers for your husband!

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  14. Like Debby, I'm having trouble finding time to read for pleasure. I read tons of non-fiction books, usually historical books on a past President, a political issue, religious books, etc. Since I sold my first book years ago, I find that I want to edit fictional novels, but they're still fun to read, to see how the author "handled" a story line, etc. But I mostly read non-fiction these days. Thanks for sharing and I hope your husband is doing well soon.

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    1. Thank you, Leigh. It appears that finding time is a common problem. I add in the books I have to read for school to keep my discussions with the students fresh, and time gets really narrow.

      I find I start a lot of non-fiction, but then skim looking for what I need more than reading straight through.

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    2. I notice I do the same thing with nonfiction, Cate. So many books, so little time!!!

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  15. I have to say that I like to escape but now and then I like relatable material. I do like that even though it’s Christian Fiction non of the characters come across as perfect.

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  16. Over the recent years, I have started reading fiction books in relation to my own real life.

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