Why are we always in search of a good book, especially a good novel? Why read novels at all?

home libraryIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that every now and again I love to come up with a list. 77 Things to Do When Stressed or Uninspired was one of them, and then I did lists of what I was grateful for. (I’m big on gratitude.) You can find one of them here. Once, I even did a post listing 101 Excuses Not To Write that Book. Now it’s 25 Reasons Why We Read Novels.

I created this current list because I LOVE to read novels. I’m also a novelist, so I not only read them for pleasure, but I study them to see what works and what, imho, doesn’t work. What is there to learn from a good novel, you might ask?

Well, I study how a particular author does dialogue especially well, or how another author keeps the tension going. Or how different authors handle transitions or dramatic arcs.

I am a perpetual student of my craft. I also heard at a writer’s conference early on in my career to read a lot of books of whatever I hoped to write, and I took that to heart.

As a student of human nature, I’m also curious about what motivates other people to read and search out a good novel. Feel free to weigh in on this list and disagree or add things. It is a work-in-progress.

So here goes: 25 Reasons Why We Read Novels:

  1. They take us on an adventure or a journey we would otherwise never take.
  2. They encourage us to be resilient and overcome conflicts.
  3. They surprise us and offer unexpected twists just like life does.
  4. They open doors to other cultures and times.
  5. They reveal the emotional lives of characters and therefore they reveal us to ourselves.
  6. They remind us that we matter.
  7. They give us courage.
  8. They help us overcome loneliness and depression.
  9. They remind us how fragile life is.
  10. They are a snapshot of our time here on earth; history in the making.
  11. They allow us to walk in another person’s shoes and develop empathy.
  12. They entertain as well as educate through storytelling.
  13. They make us smile, laugh and cry and remind us of our humanity.
  14. They reveal the secrets we all have.
  15. They call our best selves to action.
  16. They remind us of our uniqueness, as well as our sameness.
  17. They challenge us to open ourselves to bigger worlds and bigger ideas.
  18. They teach us compassion for strangers, people on the fringe and the underdogs in life.
  19. They remind us that dreams and wishes do come true.
  20. They expand our intellect.
  21. They remind us how brief our time here on earth is.
  22. They help us see the natural world.
  23. They inspire us to be more creative.
  24. They validate our curiosity, our need to know more.
  25. They remind us that we’re not alone.

What would you add?


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