Fantasy Gave Me What No Other Genre Could: The Gift of Imagination

An ode to fantasy fiction from a hardcore fantasy nerd.

Fantasy Gave Me What No Other Genre Could: The Gift of Imagination
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An ode to fantasy fiction from a hardcore fantasy nerd.

Hello dear readers,

Do you remember the first book you read?

For me, it was one of the Five Find-Outers and Dog series by Enid Blyton. After that, I was so hooked to mystery and adventure, that I kept devouring more of Enid Blyton — Famous Five, Secret Seven, and then venturing on to Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the likes.

Then one day, my best friend introduced me to Harry Potter.

Back then, I had a pretty negative image of anything that involved magic. To me, magic was impossible. And any book that contained anything impossible was absurd, and therefore, too beneath me to even consider reading.

But my best friend was insistent. “You’ll love it,” she said. “There’s no book like Harry Potter.”

And though I wasn’t too inclined to read a book about magic, I trusted my friend. We had similar tastes. She couldn’t be that wrong, my eleven-year-old brain reasons. And so, I started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I want to say, “And the rest, as you know, is history.” But is it possible to say something like that without sounding like a cliche?

After Harry Potter, I read Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand. It was different, but just as fun, and it sated my “Harry Potter hangover.” Then, I read Inkspell by Cornelia Funke and Eragon by Christopher Paolini. These books made me fall deeper in love with the genre.

Then, I came across The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and of course, The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, and it’s safe to say that I was hooked. I started loving fantasy so much, that it became hard for me to love any other genre just the same.

It became my comfort genre — the one I turned to when nothing seemed to be going all right. I sought solace in it, and in return, it gave me everything the physical world lacked: immortal wizards, powerful supervillains, destiny, prophecies, sorcery, and a host of magical creatures like unicorns, dragons, vampires, and so much more.

What’s the fun in it if it’s not real?

That’s the question most of my friends and elders asked: Why did I like fantasy so much when I knew nothing like that could ever happen in real life.

The answer is something only fantasy books could give me: the gift of imagination. The power to dream up potentially infinite universes where anything could happen. The freedom to make up rules that depended on nothing but the boundaries I set for myself.

In essence, fantasy taught me to dream.

I would never have started writing if I hadn’t read the amazing worlds created by JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, and the host of other writers whose words colored up my childhood.

Yes, fantasy is not real. But it’s real to me because it changed my life.

Can there be anything more powerful than that?

If you’re a fellow fantasy nerd like me, I’d love to know your favorite books, especially if they are different from the ones I listed here.

If you’ve never read fantasy or don’t enjoy it so much, I’m curious to know what’s your comfort genre. Is there an author or a particular genre that you keep returning to, no matter how hard you try to stick to a TBR (to-be-read list)?

Leave a comment to let me know. I’m always on the lookout for new book recommendations and I’d love to know about some books that changed your life.

Note: If you’re wondering why this post is so different from the articles I usually publish on Medium, it was originally published as a part of the free plan of the Books Are Our Superpower Book Club.

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