Photo credit MJ Wahl, taken at Bayfield ON, July 2023
And beach reading, of course, means mindless fluff and pulpy escapism. We go to the beach to relax, after all. Like most Canadians, once the good weather arrives, I want to soak in the beautiful warm summer as much as possible – because the winters are long and dark and the summers all-too short.
If you’re like me, I’m not interested in reading anything serious when I’m at the beach. As the author of pulpy sci-fi, however, I’d argue that it’s always a great time to read escapist fiction – not just at the beach.
Six reasons why pulpy escapism is important
Reading escapist fiction is a great way to relax and de-stress – which also means it can be an important form of self-care. So don’t underestimate the value of mindless escapism.
I’d like to offer this short list of five or six reasons why reading escapist fiction is good for us:
- A good sci-fi or fantasy novel will transport you into a different world. It allows you to take a break from real-world problems and the stresses of life, and immerse yourself in a different world.
- Related to the above, reading escapist fiction allows you to experience something new. A good book draws you in so that you feel like you’ve entered the world of that book, and are experiencing it. The first novel I ever read was about a caveman, set in prehistoric times when Neanderthals still roamed the world with the first early humans. I was about 10 years old, and I still remember the experience of how I felt like I was really living in that prehistoric world. It was the book that got me hooked on reading, and eventually writing, and I still can’t think of a better reason or reading fiction.
- It allows you to live vicariously through other characters, and helps you imagine yourself as someone else – such as the hero bravely fighting off nasty slime-covered aliens, or fire breathing dragons.
- If you’re going through some challenging personal times, reading escapist fiction can offer you an important break from difficult emotions like loneliness, anxiety or sadness. It allows you to temporarily escape from every-day life, and we all need that at times.
- After a long day, reading escapist fluff is a great way to unwind and get mentally and emotionally prepared for bed-time. In other words, it can help you get to sleep easier. I think I’m like most people, in that I can’t just be busy-busy with work or chores at night, then hop into bed. I need a wind-down period of an hour or two before I can go to bed feeling relaxed enough to sleep.
- It teaches you that evil aliens (or wicked dragons or any sort of evil enemy) can be defeated. I’m stealing a thought from C.S. Lewis here, who said that the point about fantasy isn’t that dragons are real, but that the dragons can be defeated. Escapist fiction teaches us about heroism, courage and perseverance, and that we can all be heroes to the people within our circles when we have the courage to do the right thing.
We can all be courageous heroes
“Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” C.S. Lewis
I’ll leave you with that thought. Thanks for reading my blog today, and have a great rest of the summer!
Postscript: One last tidbit – some food for thought when it comes to summer vacation. There’s an interesting article in the Guardian about a company in the UK that’s taking the entire month of August off. Europeans have generally been much better about taking time off and balancing work with life. I think this is a great idea, and it’s time for North Americans to get on board with Europeans when it comes to work-life balance and taking more time off.