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Escapism – What’s Wrong with That?

Some people see escapism as a bad thing. If you check the definition at, you find, “the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.” Interestingly, the word originated in the 1930-35 period. Which was the time of…? The Great Depression, right. When a lot of people were as depressed as the economy and had good reasons to want to escape.

But does escaping through the imagination necessarily mean avoiding reality? Isn’t it just a little mental vacation, and not irresponsible at all? That’s what I think. So does acclaimed science fiction writer Neil Gaiman, who says,

“…escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that)”
Gaiman adds that,
“…more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back…”

Romances certainly fit the bill. Readers find charming (fascinating, exciting, choose your own adjective) people to hang out with, a happy ending they can count on, and the possibility of learning some important things. Like compassion. Like the surprising ways that different kinds of people see the world. Maybe even hints about how to deal with their own relationships. At the least, a satisfying book offers a respite, some relaxation; it can improve your mood, and thus make reality a nicer place for you and the people around you.

So, I say, here’s to escapism. We can all use a little bit, from time to time.

If you’re up for some light-hearted escape, I offer for your consideration a new edition of The Headstrong Ward, out today. There’s a parrot.

Find it at:
Barnes and Noble 
Books a Million

One commenter who describes their favorite brand of escapism will win a copy!


  1. I'm all for escapism. I can see why complete escapism would be a bad thing, but everyone needs a little.

  2. I totally agree - reading has kept me sane :)

  3. "There's a parrot." Best hook line ever.
    Totally reading is what it is. I can go anywhere, do anything in a book - bring it on!
    I agree with Shana, complete escapism as in total denial of reality is bad. But during my break time, quiet time, or need to get away time, it's all about escapism!

  4. Reading romances is my favorite was to temporarily escape 'real life' . :-)

    1. Hi Glenda,

      You're the winner of a copy of The Headstrong Ward! Email me at janeashfordauthor at and let me know where to send it.

  5. I usually read to escape the real world.

  6. Reading in the sun, reading in the hot tub, reading anywhere! ;)

  7. Reading from suspense to paranormal to historical. It's like traveling to exotic places with a turn of a page.


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