3 Reasons To Read Fiction Even As An Adult

I was a finance major in my final year of undergraduate education. We were learning Financial Markets and Institutions, famously known among students as FMI, during the Fall semester. Our course instructor strongly urged us to use our imagination and logic while dealing with the numerous cases we were up during class discussions and assignments. He said, as I still remember clearly, ‘You might not be able to be so creative in the next semester. It will be more of financial applications and numericals then. I’m not saying you can’t be creative, it’s just that it’s very difficult for anyone to challenge William Sharpe’s ratio. You can, but to be able to do that you must first learn to use your imagination in the current class.’

That’s what I’d like to call the different between fiction and non-fiction reading.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of my friends and family discover their joy of reading, which is fantastic. More books and ideas to share everywhere. But I’ve also seen a pattern that would certainly make Neil Gaiman, a champion of reading for pleasure and libraries, worry. A lot of adults read a lot of non-fiction (which is great), but they somehow end up turning a blind eye to fiction. Fiction as the word suggests is a lie, it’s untrue; why should anyone waste their time reading it? Why don’t we read more of creativity hacks and technology instead?

I’m definitely not against non fiction reading. It’s necessary. It gives us ideas and perspective we wouldn’t find elsewhere. And with information widely available, cost of printing going down, it has never been a better time to be alive to read.

#1 Fiction is not a trap
I’ve met friends and family who often tell me that fiction is a trap. It has to do with the fact that it is untrue, I presume. I don’t usually end up defending fiction and at times I do feel guilty about it. But it also gives me a chance to ask ‘Why do you feel that way?’ The answers mostly reveal being stuck with a particular genre for a long time. I believe it’s like myopia to the eyes. I’m myopic and without my prescription glasses everything is blurry. If I never wore glasses, I’d perhaps end up thinking the world is exactly as it seems to my eyes: blurry. But of course it is not.

#2 Fiction helps you question
If non fiction hands you knowledge, fiction helps you question. And questioning is just as important as gathering knowledge. Why did Harry choose to fight Voldemort? Why did Parijat wrote what she wrote?

#3 Fiction eases the burden of reality
In line with #2.
It can be extremely difficult to put ourselves into the feet of real people. Even in case of non fiction storytelling, it is at times difficult to narrow down the circumstances people go through. All the while comparison is usually tricky, because everyone is different and circumstances alter cases. But the case is different for fiction. It’s not real, and in this lies a subtle freedom. We can compare, question and demand alternatives that perhaps would have been very difficult otherwise. It’s easier to question fiction, and in return to question reality. And this is how we learn things do not have to be the way they are.

I think what my finance instructor meant when he said use your imagination this semester was that I wasn’t working with just facts, I was working with scenarios and cases where people acted, and thus, anything was possible as long as it made sense (of course financial rules applied). The next semester was equally challenging and interesting, but I realized he was right, I couldn’t use my mind more freely. There were equations I could not challenge, not yet. But the previous semester’s imaginative working helped in a lot of cases, especially in interpretation questions.

Fiction and non fiction reading as some say might go hand-in-hand. One answers, another questions, then a few more answers, a few more questions. Like an eternal dance of light and darkness, that continues to challenge and nourish our intellectual life.

I am extremely lucky to have discovered the joy of reading as a young child. Peter Rabbit was my favorite because there was a long long line of generation in it. It is rare to find a book that mentions Great great great great grand father. The book was bright yellow and it was very attractive. We were made to memorize poems in our Nepali literature class, that I still treasure. The lines might have become blurry in my memory but the learnings are still omnipresent.

The joy of reading, it’s not a big thing, but it’s fulfilling, it’s nourishing, it’s exactly how it is supposed to be- reading.


Do let me know what you thought about this article. It’s still nebulous in parts. The more I read, the more I discover, and thus, a longer path awaits to be seen. Till then, here’s my little part.

Severus-Lily: Was It Only Romantic Love?

I know it is not true, because J.K. Rowling herself told us so, and still I couldn’t stop myself from exploring the angle of platonic friendship in two beloved Harry Potter characters, Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Severus’s complex nature and the final manifestation twisted everything. Severus loved Lily too much to let her go even after she passed away. Some say he was obsessed with her and couldn’t move on, and some other love him dearly for the sacrifices he made. It was all ‘L-O-V-E’.

Of course it was love, but what kind of love? Love remains a central theme in the Harry Potter series. It is the ultimate weapon that destroys Lord Voldemort. Lily’s love for Harry, Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione, Dobby’s loyalty to Harry. All the characters on the good side manifest love, including the Malfoy’s despite standing with the Dark Lord. So many different kinds of love have been explored in the series, with one of the major highlights being Severus and Lily.

The question isn’t as much as ‘Were these two characters just friends?’, as much as ‘Would it justify everything if they were just friends?’ Simply saying, would Severus do everything he did if Lily were just a friend?

Here’s a small poll I did on facebook to know what my Harry-Potter-Loving-Friends think. Seems like I might not be alone about the different angle in Severus-Lily’s relationship.

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Family is a strong theme running right from the first page of the first book. Sacrifices have been made for families and by families throughout the series. By the end we see that scarifies have been made for romantic love too, by Severus for Lily. Carrying a mountain for family and for romantic love has been an ongoing theme in literature for thousand of years. But sacrifices have also been made by friends, well wishes and everyone who stood on the good side. We have Tonks and Lupin who died leaving their new born son, Harry’s DA friends-Neville, Ginny, Luna, Seamus, Dean who fought because it was right. Everyone risked their lives. And that is why I wonder if Severus would do what he did, even if Lily were just a friend he deeply cared about.

Never in the books is it explicitly mentioned that Severus loved Lily in a romantic way. Sure there are a lot of metaphors the famous one being the ‘Always’ dialogue between Severus and Dumbledore, but then again aren’t metaphors suppose to mean more than what can be seen?

Severus was loyal to the Dark Lord and spills the prophesy made by Trelawney only to realize that the Dark Lord would now kill Harry, who was Lily’s son. Anyone could have felt the shock, Lily doesn’t have to be his love interest for the shock to run down his veins. The guilt of putting your dear friend in danger (and eventually having her murdered) might take toll on anyone. So Severus’s actions could have been his own path to redemption. There’s no saying it wasn’t love, but there are so many other possibilities, other emotions, other kinds of love, which often run under the shadows of romantic love and family love.

There’s so much more. Wouldn’t you agree?

Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Three

Take a quick recap: Chapter One and Two.

Meera followed the Prefect to the Hufflepuff dormitory. The entrance to the dormitory was the same as the kitchen. Meera followed quietly trying not to signal a single sound of amazement.  When they reached the entrance with large barrels, the Prefect tapped the second barrel from the bottom four time in a distinct rhythm. Meera was told to memorize the rhythm which is the only way to enter the dormitory.

‘Tap—Tap-Tap———-Tap.’ This was presumably the rhythm of Helga Hufflepuff, the founder of the Hufflepuff house. The barrel opened revealing an entrance to the dormitory. Meera is amazed to see the room. It was cheerful as were the students already inside of it. The common room was decorated with colors of earth, and the house colors black and yellow. The honey colored wooden furnitures and the plants placed neatly on the walls, added to the ambience of the room.

Neal, the boy who Meera had met earlier was already sitting in one of the wooden chairs. He rose as he saw Meera arrive. There was a little girl with him, who seemed a lot younger than him.

‘Meera, meet my sister Benny,’ he said. Benny raised her hand to wave and said, ‘Hello’ in her meek little voice. They were to share the same dormitory.

Neal’s sister was starting her first year in Hogwarts and he was extremely happy that Benny had been sorted into Hufflepuff. He also told Meera that it was not necessary despite being family, that they should be sorted into the same house.

‘How do you come to Hogwarts then?’ he asked Meera.

‘To be honest, I do not know,’ Meera replied.

‘May be Meera’s a great witch…and so,’ Benny was quick to add. But she shyly turned away immediately.

Meera smiled. ‘Thanks,’ she said. May be Hogwarts wasn’t that odd after all.

Meera’s classes were to begin the next day. She was to start with the first years with a couple of extra subjects to be able to cover as much as possible. She looked at the heavy bag Zuck had bought for her. It was filled with books of all kinds. While the topics looked much different from what she had ever seen, the fact that she had to learn all of it made her realize that magic must be studied too. It wasn’t something that was passed down or given without effort.

Meera entered the first class. It was called Charms. A tiny little professor, who was named Zelda was already sitting. The students were ready to begin the class. Meera sat down besides Benny.

‘Wands out!’ Professor Zelda said sharply.

Meera searched her little bag for her wand. She remembered putting everything Benny had told her the night earlier. But she could not find her wand. How could she perform magic without it? She looked left and right. Everyone was ready. Meera felt ashamed for not knowing something so obvious.

‘I don’t have mine,’ she said meekly.

‘Magic without wands!’ yelled a girl from behind, giggling. She was Redna from Ravenclaw.

‘Silence!’ Professor Zelda said. ‘You will have to go and get your wand Meera.’

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Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Two

Can’t recall the first chapter? Click here.

Meera was skeptic as ever. It was tearing her apart. She didn’t want to go, but Zuck’s words ringed in her ears. Your country’s magic council wants you to study magic at Hogwarts. She didn’t know why she needed to believe someone who had appeared out of thin air. But for some reason she felt it would be equal to betraying if she denied something she was chosen to do. To make things worse, Mayna kept shut. Even after many pleadings, she would not tell Meera more than what Zuck had told her.

It was the 14th day, the day of the no moon. Zuck could appear anytime and Meera would have to make a decision that would challenge everything she ever knew. She was nervous and scared.

Was she ever coming back if she left? Would she ever see her city and the familiar temples again? What if Zuck was a fraud? What if he had given Mayna some crazy medicine to get her to play along? What if he was blackmailing her?

Despite all these questions her suitcase was neatly packed and placed in the corner of her room. Meera knew that Mayna had been keeping a close watch on her as her older sister kept passing by her room every hour since dinner.

It was close to 10 o’ clock at night and there was no sign of Zuck. Meera had begun to think that perhaps it was all a joke after all as she laid over her bed. He wasn’t going to come. And she could place all her clothes back into her closet and sleep.

It was quarter past 11 and Meera had almost fallen asleep when a noise woke her up. She could see a gigantic face looking at her from above. In a flash she screamed and moved towards the edge of the bed. The window was wide open.

‘Got stuck in traffic!’ Zuck said floating in the air seated on his broom as he placed a big bag on the ground. ‘Had to visit Diagon Alley to get all your things for school Meera. Here’s your robe and your books.’

Meera was still by the edge of her bed. Zuck had come after all and now her heart was going to explode.

‘I see your suitcase is packed. So do you want to leave then?’ he asked. ‘But I suggest you change into your robes before heading out.’

Meera knew Mayna was across the door as it flung open.

‘Greetings Zuck!’ said Mayna.

‘Ah greetings to you too Mayna,’ he replied.

Meera could not digest the familiarity in their voices as they greeted each other. But that was less than important at the moment. Zuck looked at her waiting for an answer.

‘I will come,’ she said. Mayna smiled as if she had always known the outcome. Meera changed her clothes which was clearly big for her. Zuck looked sorry for the mismatch. But there was no time.

‘Mount your broom,’ Zuck said, ‘Locomotor!’ he yelled as he waved his wand and her suitcase and the bag he had bought started flying in the air. ‘You’ve never flown that long, but there’s no other way as of now to go to Hogwarts from here. So hold on tight.’

Meera mounted her broom and bid her farewell to her sister and they slowly started flying through the window. Mayna peeked out and yelled, ‘Take care of her Zuck!’ Zuck nodded as they disappeared.

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