Why do people read fiction?

The 2018 Reader Survey asked participants why they read fiction. Several answers were proposed along with an invitation to comment. With well over 1800 responses, the results below show the percentages of those who chose ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ for each given option.

And below are a sampling of the comments people added:

I don’t like the term ‘escapism’ when referring to reading – to me it cheapens the experience on behalf of the reader. To an extent, I like to be entertained especially if I’m reading something lighter in context but I never read to simply ‘pass the time’. I like getting caught inside the shoes and heart of the characters, feeling captured by the timescape and exiting feeling as if I had ‘lived the life’ I had just read.

I just want to highlight “understand the circumstances of others.” Reading has let me be the fly on the wall in places I would never be able to go. It has exposed me to different cultures, lands, and time periods.

I love to read fiction because it’s what I enjoy. It’s something that I can get lost in and forget for awhile.

Reading is never a way to pass the time; it’s a way I spend my time. If I’m bored, it’s because I don’t have a good book to read.

Reading forms part of my life: I cannot imagine a day without a book.

I think reading is like breathing to me….not a choice….it’s a necessity.

I read to do reality checks on official narratives. How things really work versus institutional reporting. Reading widely is a kind of reality check.

Reading about other cultures helps us to understand ourselves better, and fosters deeper empathy.

To experience situations and lifestyles that are different from my own life.

To be transported to other times, places, politics, and selves. To be ‘other’.

To broaden my horizons and perspectives. To broaden my vocabulary and thus communication skills. To enhance my imagination.

If you haven’t taken the survey, here’s the link. And please share the link on your favourite social media https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/68HL6F2 .


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

4 thoughts on “Why do people read fiction?”

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