If you could live in a world that you read about in a book, which bookworld would you pick? That’s the question we posed our bloggers, here’s what they have to say!
Through first-person accounts, whether they be fictional or non-fictional, books can take you into somebody else’s world, which is most fascinating to me, seeing the world through a different lens. Though the characters and the narrator may be fictional, it’s incredible how much stories can broaden your horizons by allowing you to explore and experience reality – though it may be altered – through different eyes, which may have been inspired by the author themselves, their own viewpoints and experiences. Though reading can’t replace experiencing it yourself, it does allow those of us who may not be big risk takers or extroverts to step beyond our world, in our own way. Dystopian and fantasy worlds are still very interesting to explore, but I’m most gripped by the opportunity to get to know the world, my world, somebody else’s world – all through an external lens. Early 19th Century ‘Frankenstein’ and modern ‘They Both Die at the End’, though very different texts, they show us different characters’ worlds through their alternating first-person narratives – different characters narrating the same events in different ways. Frankenstein’s epistolary form – as well as that of The Colour Purple – leads us to question the influence of the addressee: questioning how addressing affects the story. The letters in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ in turn shows us how the mental state of the character can affect their form and their lens, a concept powerfully explored through the trauma of the main character Charlie, but also through the insomnia of the narrator in Fight Club. We may question the stability and reliability of F Scott Fitzgerald’s or Dostoevsky’s narrators, however, the first-person perspective reveals something crucial: who tells the story matters. Depending on whose story it is and who’s recounting it, the story may be presented very differently. I think that’s the power of showing the readers not just a different world, but somebody else’s world and viewpoint. The narrator makes or breaks the narrative.
Chiara, 17, Northampton
The imaginary world that has captured my heart, ever since I first discovered it at the age of 5, is the Barbaric Archipelago of the ‘How to train your dragon’ books. The 12-book series, the trading cards, the handbooks and field guides, the world book day special editions- I collected it all. I read every book religiously the second it was released, often picking them up and not putting them down again until hours and hours later when I had reached the very end. When I was little, I would imagine that their world was my world. That I would go on adventures with Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, train disobedient dragons, defeat dastardly foes and sail on magnificent ships to the land that no-one dares name. I embraced all things Viking, asked for toy swords and axes for birthdays and Christmas, went to museums to see artifacts in real life, wore a horned helmet almost all the time, and could almost believe it was all real. My imagination was so vivid back then. I could put myself hundreds of miles or years away in an instant and see what was not there in full colour. The furs so tangibly soft, the arctic winters so realistically chilling, the blast of dragon-fire so strong that I could almost feel its heat on the back of my neck, as I narrowly escaped being burned alive. Looking back makes me miss it – how carefree I used to be when the biggest hurdles I had to face were fictional. I think part of the reason I was so devoted to this world, was because (apart from the dragons) it was strongly grounded in reality, while still having the battles, schemes and conflicts of many other fantasy-series. If a child says they want to be a wizard, like in Harry Potter, the only choice adults have is to chuckle and encourage them, until they are old enough and the unfortunate news must be broken.
But with Cressida Cowell’s Vikings, sure you can’t really be one in today’s day and age, but they were real… once. You can go to a museum and see the remains of their longships, their shields, their armour, even their buildings. They are in a perfect sweet spot. They are just recent enough that we have things to remember them by – we know they were real, and we have learned much about their culture. However, they also stray just far enough into the murky past to slip somewhat out of the realm of reality. They are just ancient and obscure enough to be exciting and mysterious and shrouded in legend, to the point where hypothetically (though obviously no remains have ever been found) they could have lived side by side with dragons. (If you were a devotee of the series back in the day like I was, this will evoke some serious nostalgia) “There were dragons when I was a boy. There were great, grim, sky dragons that nested on the cliff tops like gigantic scary birds. Little, brown dragons that hunted down the mice and rats in well-organised packs. Preposterously huge Sea Dragons that were twenty times as big as the Big Blue Whale who killed for the fun of it. You will have to take my word for it, for the dragons are disappearing so fast they may soon become extinct.” It gives me chills (in a good way). I still hold so much love for this series, as they were the first real books I ever read, my introduction to the world of literature. It has now been almost 6 years since the release of the last book in 2015, so I probably read them from the ages of about 5-11. Each book reflects a different time in Hiccup’s Viking education, the first few books (as hiccup is younger) being pretty light-hearted, then getting into darker and more dangerous adventures in the later series. This is good as it means they can continue to grab the attention of the kids who read them, even as they grow up. Also, I implore you to not judge a book by its questionable TV and movie remakes. The books could not be more different. The plot is so much more developed and cohesive; half the characters are different and the world they live in isn’t even that similar. Even if you are an older reader, I think I would recommend these books as the joy they brought me when I was little is still there when I listen to the audiobooks now. In conclusion, these books are incredible, and I highly HIGHLY suggest giving them a try, regardless of who you are, or at least recommend them to any young readers you know. My childhood would not have been the same without them.
Tabitha, 15, Leicester
As a bookworm, I use fiction to escape to different realities, realms, and alternative ways of life. From other planets in science fiction novels, to other worlds in fantasies or even a way of life hidden in the normality of our society. Though very stereotypical, my favourite book world is the magic land of Harry Potter. The land of Harry Potter allows you to imagine the capability of magic in a society aware of science and physics, whilst allowing you to imagine yourself in another life, and fulfil your childish dreams of magic and adventure. As a child we dreamed of being able to do magic and fly, and the setting of Hogwarts allows us to do those things. Additionally, when the muggles catch a glimpse of Mr Weasleys flying car and the wall that connects the muggle world to Diagon Alley, it made me question what it is hiding in the shadows of our society, magic or even superpowers. It allows us to escape school, escape reality and imagine yourself in your wildest dream, where you can perform magic, create spells and potions, or even fly when playing quidditch. Imagining yourself as a witch makes you feel powerful and strong, like Neville Longbottom grew into a brave person. It is childish to believe in magic but submerging yourself into the land of Harry Potter allows you to fulfil your fantasies without all the dangers that come with it, like Voldemort and the Death Eaters. JK Rowling has completed this fantasy in this amazing series, which is read by children years later and has inspired a fanbase who recreate and reimage this, by extending these books through fanfiction. However, it should also be mentioned as the fiction that brings us into the lives of other people in our society. That brings to light how they live. Books like The Colour Purple have created a world where I can sympathise with people and try to begin showing empathy in cases of racism, sexism, domestic abuse, and homophobia. These books help you see our world from other people’s perspectives.
Emilia, 15, Leicester
This blog has been edited by Alice