Fact vs. Fantasy

We’ve all heard about the joys of curling up with a good book. The only thing that seems to differ is which book is being explored.

I have a couple of friends who prefer medical dictionaries and the like, but I don’t understand that very well. How can the definitions of ‘aspiration’ and ‘constipation’ compare to pirates battling sea monsters and otherworldly realms where schools have classes in swordplay or potion making?

Fiction amazes me in a way that non-fiction never could. I have an enormous amount of respect for sci-fi and fantasy novelists. Sure, some lady could go sit in the jungle and compile new information about silverback gorillas. She could write a pretty decent book out of that. But pure, creative genius is hard to come by these days. I feel like most people would rather say “Dragons don’t exist” than try to figure out how to defend a town from them. Fiction is special because it chases the ‘what if?’ instead of the ‘how come?’.

By now, I’m sure some of the non-fiction fans among you are saying something along the lines of “All right, but you don’t learn anything from a fantasy novel”.

Au contraire, my friends. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, you’ll know that it is an exciting four-part series about a boy named Eragon and a dragon named Saphira. Yet, despite the copious number of elves and dwarves and dragons, most of what I know about anatomy came from the Cycle. Not to mention battle strategy- though I will concede that not many infantry soldiers have horns where we come from.

Also, most importantly, I learned how to forge and care for a sword. Now, that’s an important fact for life if I ever heard of one. For anyone still in doubt as to the informational value of an imagined story, I assure you that you can find a few Magic Tree House paperbacks in any conventional elementary school library.

So, the next time you decide to settle down in front of a fire and break out your reading glasses, take some advice as a favor to me. One, get yourself a hot beverage. Nothing makes reading better than a big mug of hot chocolate.

Two, try out a mystery,  a thriller, or a fantasy. Even if you are religiously addicted to Oxford’s Medical, pick up a fictional story and try your hand at wandwork or flying spaceships. Who knows? Everyone is good at something.