What’s So Bad About Escapism?

Let’s Talk About Escapism

We’re all readers here.  Well, I assume we’re all readers.  And we probably all have different favorite books, and different likes and dislikes when it comes to books.  We also probably have many different reasons on why we love reading, and what we like to take away from the books we read.  We also probably have different reasons for reading different books.  I know I have many different reasons for why I am craving a certain type of book.

Probably the main thing that I love about reading is that it’s entertaining.  I want to be entertained, period.  I like all kinds of entertainment.  I love comedy, fantasy, I’ve even branched out a little and enjoyed some science fiction.  I also love romance, in any of the genres above.

Scrubs panic

This was me. Stressed, but keeping it all inside.

But at the end of last year, I really started thinking about reading for escape.  The end of last year was pretty rough for me.  I had a lot of work stuff I was dealing with, and in the fall, I hurt my ankle so badly, that I had to be out of work for a week and a half because I couldn’t walk.  And then, at the end of the year, my grandmother passed away, and of course I was very upset.  I’m still upset, truly, but it’s manageable now.

Around December, I started reading for one reason – to forget about what was going on in my life.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been taken away from my life while reading before, but escapism wasn’t my goal while reading.  But at the end of last year, my goal for reading for to forget my life.  Of course I still wanted to be entertained, but I needed to escape.  I didn’t need to just escape, I need to read books that would not be too stressful; ones that I knew would have happy endings.  I turned to the adult historical romance genre, and these books provided exactly what I needed.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been around people before who are real book snobs.  And they always seem to roll their eyes about how books can be a great way to escape.  Book snobs are so annoying, aren’t they?

big bang panicBut I think escapism is NEEDED!  It’s one of the best things that reading does for the reader.  We all have times in our lives when it’s a struggle every day to just get out of bed.  And if we don’t get a little escape, then those problems and worries can just wear you down to nothing.  Well, that’s the case for me anyway.  But getting a few hours of escape by reading a book can help you deal with whatever issues you’re going through.  It takes you out of your situation, and lets you focus on someone else.  And I think, when the book is over, that little respite from your troubles makes it easier to deal with those troubles when you’re not reading.

I know that reading all those romances really helped me not have a complete breakdown. I loved reading about the characters in those books, knowing that they had some real issues to contend with, but that they ALWAYS found a way to make things work.  It helped me to realize that I could handle what I was going through, and that things would work out in the end.

So, what are your thoughts on escapism?  Have you ever been in a situation similar to mine?  Where you NEEDED desperately to escape your current anxieties and turned to some fantastic books to do that?

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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23 Responses to What’s So Bad About Escapism?

  1. Scatty says:

    It’s actually funny that you bring up this topic at the moment because it’s what I’m currently doing. I recently lost someone who I would have eventually called family. And while I wasn’t close to her, I knew that her family was hurting and so in turn I was also hurting. I didn’t feel like reading for a while and it was mostly because I couldn’t find the right book to help me escape.

    But then I did and now I’m just reading books that I know can keep me so entranced that everything just falls away. And when I’m having a moment but can’t get to said book I can easily fall into that world and just escape for a while.

    Reading to escape is definitely helpful. (Though I have to admit while The Scourge did help immensely I’m still waiting for the happy ending and book three won’t be out till later this year/next year. So now I’ve turned to Divergent hahah. I think I need to find some books where I know there will be a happy ending.)

    • Quinn says:

      I’m sorry for the loss of someone who you considered family. It’s so hard. I’m glad you’ve been finding books to read to give you a break. Reading for escapism has been on my mind so much since December. When I read a book, particularly one I’m loving, I’m always pulled away from the real world, but there are certain books that take my mind so much out of my own reality, that it gives me a much needed break from my life. And I’ve found these little respites so wonderful.

      • Scatty says:

        It really is quite helpful. Especially since I’ve been reading books that are so good I’m starting to obsess over them. Hello new fandoms lol

  2. Mary says:

    I couldn’t agree more – I love reading for escapism. Maybe because I’m a corporate lawyer?

    Have you read Danse de la Folie by Sherwood Smith yet? If not, given your preferences, I think you would LOVE it. Do it.

    • Quinn says:

      As much of a reader as I am, I’m still so surprised by how much reading for escape has helped me so much in the last few months.

      And no I haven’t read Danse de la Folie. I will have to look into it. Thanks for the rec.

  3. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy says:

    I completely agree with you on escapism through books – there’s nothing wrong with it! It’s just another level of enjoyment in reading to be able to so completely immerse yourself that you forget your real life. I haven’t really had any experiences to really make me want to escape, but I’ve always loved dipping into a new world or experience through books and pretending that it’s real. Great post Quinn!

    • Quinn says:

      There’s nothing like being pulled into the world of a book. I’m glad that you haven’t had any experiences that gave you a need for escape. But I think that being able to escape everyday life is valuable too. We all need a break from reality sometime.

  4. Candice says:

    This! I totally get what you’re saying. While they aren’t my go-to books anymore, historical romance is exactly how I escape. Mostly because they’re not too overly complex but they have a good story – I’ve never really read a TERRIBLE historical romance – that keeps you entertained once the romance has mellowed out. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a genre of books that you use to escape, whether it’s just for fun or if you’re needing to put real life aside for a little bit. Glad you’ve found a way to do just that!

    • Quinn says:

      Thanks, Candice. These historical romance novels have been so helpful for me the last few months. And they really are so much fun. Well, the ones I’ve read anyway.

  5. Absolutely, YES. Not necessarily escape super-super stressful times (although I do read through those and have lately, actually) but also I read to escape the “noise” of life – the chatter at my house, the noise of television, the street outside, the buildings going up in the lot next to mine. I want to escape those things to. AND the sad, negative news from the media. And a whole bunch of other stuff. So YES, I read to escape every single time I read anything, but my reasons for escape at different times in my life may vary. But always to escape. And I don’t feel sad or sorry one bit about that! And I don’t think anyone else should either!

    In fact, it all started for me a few years ago when I read the Percy Jackson books and I realized that I could read something FUN and I COULD escape. Before then I always read serious stuff and never felt that feeling of going away to another place. Great, great post. Love these thoughts.

    • Quinn says:

      Oh my gosh, yes, I totally understand just wanting to escape to a quiet place. Where we can put our lives on hold for just a little while, and escape somewhere else.

      I’m so glad you discovered Percy Jackson (such a wonderful series!). Fun books don’t get enough credit, I think. I’m listening to The House of Hades, and I’m in love.

  6. Alison says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with escapism and reading. I know it’s not for everyone but I love being able to step out of my life for a bit and journey to some place else.

    • Quinn says:

      I guess I get frustrated with anyone who thinks certain parts of reading are better, or more important to others. Which is why I get frustrated when people act like reading to escape is a bad thing. Or maybe not a bad thing, but not a valuable thing. Or not a learning opportunity. Because when I read to escape I’m learning how to deal with my problems.

  7. After my mother died five years ago, I watched a LOT of TV in my grief. Ditto for when I was home on maternity leave (or just home) marathon-nursing my three kids. I consider binge-watching shows I’ve heard are excellent but never got into my go-to form of escapism. Because I review movies and books for work, I tend to think of TV (scripted, not reality) as my preferred form of escapism. I obviously love to read, but I don’t need a book to provide a HEA for me to love it. I do love to get lost in my books, of course. But if I’m being honest about my need to “turn off and tune in” to escape, it’s really TV.

    • Quinn says:

      I can totally see how TV can help you escape life. There are so many wonderful TV shows, and just being able to shut your m ind down for a little while is wonderful.

      I don’t always need a HEA, although I do prefer those books. But some amazing books are not meant to have HEA. But recently, I’ve really needed the HEA. I liked knowing that things would work out because it make me hopeful that things will work out in my life.

  8. I’m so sorry about your grandmother. I lost mine last year and also used reading during that whole situation. Escapism is one reason that I love reading romance (especially historicals). I tend to overthink things and, if I’m having a hard time with something, I will muddle over it until it gets blown way out of proportion. I have found that reading prevents most of the overthinking and, like you, I find myself better suited to tackle the hard things after a nice, comforting read. Great, and relevant, discussion topic!

    • Quinn says:

      I do the exact same thing – overthink things, and just not being able to think of anything else, and before I know it, it’s blown way out of proportion. So reading those romances (or just reading to escape, whatever the genre may be) does help me NOT dwell on something.

      We are seriously reading twins, Jennifer! 🙂

  9. I hadn’t read in a solid two years while I was finishing up college, but then some huge family issues came up last summer, and then all of a sudden I read 100 books in four months O_O Like you said – it was the only way I knew how to cope with what was going on, and I read to forget myself and everything around me. Although I didn’t shy away from the stressful/heartbreaking books: I actually sought them out. I’m not good at dealing with emotions in real life (I’ve cried/expressed my feelings maybe twice over this whole family debacle), but when I cry over a book, it gives me that emotional release I need. Now, I read more for pleasure (and I actually read a lot slower), and as entertainment, since things are starting to quiet down.
    And BOOHOO to the book snobs – books are what we need them to be.

    • Quinn says:

      Yes!!!! Books are what we need them to be. I love this, and agree completely. I’m actually someone who can cry quite easily – although usually not infront of people. So I like the escape books give, so that I can get a break from all the saddness, or stress, or whatever emotion I’m feeling. Which is why I like those happy ending books, because I want to feel happy, and I can while reading. 🙂

  10. Lunar Haven says:

    I always enjoyed books just for the sake of reading when I was a kid. When High School came and I started feeling extreme estrangement from my peers, books became my go-to whenever I got depressed. I was obsessed with Harry Potter; it was the only thing that got me through those painful days. I don’t only do it with books but TV too. If I find something that hits my fancy I can absorb myself in it every hour of the day. Escapism is often the last refuge in the face of emotionally difficult situations.

    • Quinn says:

      When I was a kid, I liked reading for pleasure too. Well, I still love reading for pleasure. But when I was in a senior in high school, I was also feeling a bit separated from my friends, and I turned to reading to help. I love Harry Potter too. There’s so much there to think about, it’s the perfect escapism series.

  11. Julie S. says:

    I definitely agree that reading to escape stressful situations, even for a little while, it so beneficial. We all need to blow off steam and take a break from the stuff weighing us down with stress and anxiety, so why not read something that you will enjoy and will let you run away for a while.

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