- Everything happens for a reason. In the real world, everything seems pretty random, and a lot of weird pointless stuff happens, and a lot of boring pointless stuff happens. Whereas, in a novel, someone having a weird name is probably vital to the plot! instead of just being an interesting, random thing. Everything is very intentional and well thought-out in a good book. A lot of stuff is just happening all the time in reality, and it takes a lot of effort to figure out what the important bits are - in a book, it's spelt out for you.
- There are no inane conversations. This is how I can tell I am not just a character in a novel - 90% of my interactions with other people are the same thing over and over: talking about the weather, talking about how I'm struggling with my book, talking about the current political situation and how the family is and the economic climate. None of these things would come up in a novel! They're not moving the plot forward! Unless I am trapped in a very poorly-written and self-indulgent novel about being angsty and eighteen and having the same conversations over and over again, like it's Groundhog Day.
- You can see inside other people's heads. Everyone thinks it would be cool to be able to swap bodies with or shapeshift into another person. I would much prefer to try out how another person thinks and feels and their skills than take on how they look (though that would be very interesting, too). Unfortunately, in the real world, I can't do this. Books are about as close as I'll get.
- Boring things can be skipped over. Studying, for instance. Or writing. Always in stories (and films and TV, too) writers spend very little time actually writing, and a lot of time going on wacky adventures and partying and having everyone fall hopelessly and irrevocably in love with them. Why can't this be the real world? Why? Sadly I am not fictional and have to do actual work sometimes.
- Reading them helps me get better at writing them. Well, at least I hope they do. Sometimes I can hardly bear to read really brilliant novels, because then I get all sad that I'm not that writer and I don't have their brilliant writing skills and way of seeing the world. But I think every time I read something, be it a brilliant book or a terrible one, I'm figuring out the things that do and don't work in a book, and then incorporating or avoiding them later on, even if it's on a subconscious level.
- An opportunity to connect with other people. When I first started blogging, I thought it was the single greatest thing ever - I could talk to the authors of the books I adored! I could discuss these books at length with other infatuated readers! I would no longer irritate my non-reading friends and family member with my endless chatter! I have found that if I think a book is awesome, I tend to think the writer is awesome too (my judgement may be slightly clouded). Even though it's just a bunch of words on a bunch of pages, a novel is a highly personal thing for the writer (generally speaking), and it's pretty amazing the influence a novel can have over readers (think book-inspired tattoos - that's commitment).
- Novels are a wonderful holiday. I do like reality. You can touch and smell and taste things. That's pretty good. But when the real world is overwhelming and terrifying (I find having a consciousness to be a pretty scary thing. I'm going to be dead one day, guys! What happens then? I don't know!), or even when it's a bit boring, a wonderful book is a very absorbing escape for an afternoon. And very low-priced, considering how powerful they are.
What are your favourite things about novels? Reality-escaping? Non-stop action? Educational possibilities?