By: Eliana Vazquez
Daydreaming was always an escapism from reality when I was a child. I found myself fantasizing about anything that could get me out of the classroom. As I got older, the reality of becoming an adult and dealing with life situations had me yearning for a new form of escapism that was outside my own mind. Fantasy novels seemed to be the books that helped me the most when life got hectic. Many people use escapism as a coping strategy that allows a person to find a way out from reality and find themselves at peace within a fantasy universe.
During COVID the sales of books went up 8.2% within the United States. Although that may have been because people were bored, I’d argue that it was more than that.
During COVID, we had many forms of entertainment available, whether that was streaming services, video games, or TikTok. To have gone out of your way to spend money on a book during a time that many were out of work makes no sense. I think the real reason people began to read more is because during that chaotic moment in life, books were a great distraction.
Many fantasy novels have become much more popular amongst readers. That can easily be seen in reviews of 2022. Most of the books that have grown in popularity are novels that have been around for years. And the sudden interest in these novels is what’s gravitating people towards the bookshelves in search of these novels.
Fantasy novels have a way of embedding themselves within your mind. Suddenly you fall into a world where you are the protagonist, falling in love and sacrificing yourself for an entire realm of mythical creatures. This idealism is what makes you feel superior to your reality. It becomes more than just a form of escapism. but a safe haven of sorts for those who are looking to get away from their problems.
Each fantasy novel is always different. Even if I were to pick up another book about fairies or vampires, they’d all have different characters with different powers and world structure. This makes each fantasy novel unique even if they were to share certain attributes from other books. It keeps readers entertained by something new and different that they haven’t read yet and allows them to escape to a world that is far from reality.
Fantasy novels have been helped by “booktok.” Booktok is a community of readers that use TikTok as a platform to recommend different books and talk about them within the fandom. It was the booktok community that kept leading me to must-read romance novels. It was there that I came across “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” (ACOTAR) by Sarah J. Maas.
Maas is a popular fantasy writer whose ACOTAR series is a bestseller. It’s important to note that Maas is not a new author. She’s been writing fantasy novels for more than ten years. In fact, ACOTAR was first published in 2015. So, what exactly is making people begin to purchase these fantasy novels now?
It isn’t just social media or skilled marketing. I think it has more to do with the substance of the book. The ACOTAR books contain a well-developed fairy world with character backstories that captivate the reader, a great plot and to add the cherry on top it also contains romance.
Romance is a major part of escapism, as well. What differentiates romance fantasy from a regular romance novel is realism. Romance books tend to be about normal humans falling in love with their coworkers or the guy next door. But fantasy novels tend to be somewhat more dominant and animalistic in the sense of these characters having destined mates that make them more possessive of one another. Although it’s toxic and in real life one would recommend therapy if you’re in a relationship like that, it makes for a phenomenal read.
It’s important to note that this growth is not only seen with Maas but also other fantasy writers such as Brandon Sanderson, who recently raised $20.8 million to start his publishing campaign which will allow him to self-publish for new novels. The fact that Sanderson was able to make that much money in just three days shows his fans’ commitment. It’s authors like Maas and Sanderson who are making readers feel emotionally connected to their fantasy worlds and it’s all because of escapism.
Fantasy novels are not only meant to entertain us but have us submerged into the world of the writer. A world that separates us from reality and brings us calm within our hectic world.