Although my personal life is ok right now, the news and truth about the world in general is miserable. Is it any wonder that I feel the need to escape?
Of course traveling is the ultimate great escape; even if one still reads the papers, one is far from the routine of home and with some effort, can immerse oneself in the news of the faraway place. This is a great escape.
Unfortunately, my earning power limits my traveling opportunities. So at least 48 weeks of the year still require some form of escape, and although yes I do like a glass of wine or two, alcohol is not the answer.
So what is my great escape? Fiction! This escape has served me well during times in my life when I felt uncertain; when the ground seemed to move beneath my feet on a regular basis.
Growing up, I was always a voracious reader. After my grooming and abuse at 13, and in my subsequent crazy high school days, when and where I never fit in anywhere and stood on the fringes of everything (good in a way, but of course I didn’t know that then), fiction was my great escape. I carried books around with me everywhere, and they weren’t textbooks. They were stories. I remember Stranger in A Strange Land was a particular favorite, although I wasn’t much for science fiction generally. And Margaret Atwood-oh dear! Although I did also have a penchant for sweeping historical novels.
Later on in my twenties I didn’t read as much, but fiction was still the preferred material.In my thirties when I decided to go back to school, I realized how much of the world had passed me by as I was floating through life, and I took up non-fiction-mostly history- with a passion. Yes, I earned my degree, but at the same time I taught myself so much about all I had missed, and embarked on a self-education program that continues to this day. In my forties I became obsessed with certain aspects of our world that many in the west, with their multicultural brainwashing, ignored or glossed over, and in the process educated myself yet again. This interest led me to medieval European history, and more Chinese history. I also went back to American history and filled in many blanks there.
Did I read fiction during this period? Not really. I think I occasionally looked back to Jane Austen or other oldies but goodies, but fiction was like candy in those days. I gobbled it down too fast, and couldn’t see the point. Non-fiction challenged me, made me think, and taught me so much.
So what has changed? The ground is shifting under my feet yet again. I’m older, more aware (although not afraid) of my own mortality, and frustrated by my inability to open eyes about the truths of the world in any meaningful way. I try to make my points in a coherent fashion to convince people of the truth, but more and more and more I feel like I am yelling down a wind tunnel. I am tired, and although I will never stop fighting, I need an escape.
It probably started with the Harry Potter series. I was a bit behind all the Potterheads in that I didn’t read the books until they came out in paperback (because of course I have a thing about owning the books I read, but that’s another story). For some reason Harry Potter gave me an excuse to escape into fiction again, and it was, and still is, heavenly. I still read all the books at least once a year, as of course one does with good fiction. Jane Austen is also back in my repertoire (at least once a year), along with so many amazing 19th and early 20th century authors like Trollope, Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, and Oscar Wilde. I love Philippa Gregory, a contemporary author who writes about War of the Roses and Tudor era England. And Julian Fellowes!
My new candy, chocolate with just a touch of sugar, is the murder mystery/cozy mystery genre. I started out with Miss Fisher and moved on from there. The wonderful thing about mysteries is the plethora of authors and books. It is a veritable feast! My latest find is Debby Fowler, although I love Kerry Greenwood of Miss Fisher fame, Carola Dunn, Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth George, and P.D. James, to name a few.
Yes, I still read history and current affairs, but too much of it, especially since I subject myself to the real news every day (maybe I need to stop doing that?), makes me sad and angry, and forces me to acknowledge the earthquake under my feet. So I pace myself. Although before I traveled to the UK, in both 2014 and just this past June, I immersed myself in both their history and current events, and still take a keen interest in all things British.
But fiction? There is no limit, no boundary. And that is the best news I’ve heard in years!
Thanks for reading! Do you escape with books? I’d love to hear about your favorites!