An illustration of a castle, unicorn, and more, showing the whimsy of reading
An illustration of a castle, unicorn, and more, showing the whimsy of reading

How thrilling it is to immerse yourself in an unending expanse of white sheeted sea, whisked away by whimsical narratives or a heavily detailed autobiographies. Books offer escapism without travelling the seven seas; for many, the ability to relax and indulge into a book fills them with utter satisfaction. 

Reading acts as a diversion from the bustling world, or a cure for a reclusive life familiar with despondency or – simply – a way of learning more. We quietly resort to books written by citizens of long ago or young authors aspiring to touch the hearts of many. To experience such euphoria, one must fervently scavenge for an alluring novel: one that seemingly manipulates time for prolonged hours, one that offers a kind of liberation. 

Whether we finish the book or turn to another, there’s a pleasure in the process: we love to believe we have acquired newfound knowledge, or we have been given an insight into another’s existence, one that doesn’t replicate our own lives but details something quixotic: something beyond our own personal reality. 

Such an observation can leave you pondering, comparing these stories with your own existence. It can be so good you don’t need to look further to find the right book. How wonderful would it be to indulge in a book that mimics your reality, commemorates your differences, or shows an inspirational journey of fruitful perseverance?

Imagine if books better told the stories of the unadvertised lives of society. The stories of those who did not have nepotistic advantages, a lucrative salary, or have stable foundations in their youthful years. Let us not forget the frail, the weak, the marginalised and the mute. Wouldn’t it be pleasant to hear their stories unfold and let their truth be told?

In R. J. Palacio’s Wonder ­– about Auggie, a boy born with a congenital facial deformity – communicates a powerful message of the importance of tolerance and perseverance, encouraging readers to be tolerant towards people who look different than us. In Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, the author addresses urgent issues in our society ­– race, peer pressure, and gang violence – through an ebullient narrator, Harri, whose optimism and moral outlook motivate us to be resilient in the face of adversity.

There are inspiring stories such as these all around – is it not time, then, to collectively terminate the clichéd storylines and the constantly reused protagonists? Why not embrace those books that tell new narratives from outside the status quo, which draw connections and complete the circuit of the reader-author dynamic, and platform the voices of the silenced, unappreciated and unheard?

Shouldn’t we be invested in books that give us joy and do not lure us into a sea of unhappiness and dissatisfaction? Shouldn’t all books lessen the feeling of resentment and disfavour and heighten the indescribable bliss you feel after concluding a gratifying novel?

Books can whisk us away on seas of whimsy – why not bring that whimsy to real life? Books can be riveting and hypnotic, yet change our emotions with the flick of a page. After reading a book, one can feel rejuvenated; one can feel an ineffable sense of being alive. Why not make that feeling accessible to everyone?

 

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

Illustration: Flynn Shore / Penguin

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