It does not seem long ago that readers of fantasy were mocked, for not reading real literature. Fantasy is supposedly all about elves, orcs, and dragons, and not to be considered proper for adults to read. However, today Game of Thrones is one of the most talked about television shows, and the Harry Potter fandom is still as strong as ever. Could it be true that fantasy is mainstream now?
The recent surge in the popularity of the fantasy genre is primarily caused by, the amount of fantasy media being produced. Blockbuster films are mostly either science fiction or fantasy at the moment. Information spreads faster through the internet, about the latest trending television series or movie to be released. Moreover, the popularity of Game of Thrones has encouraged more people to try out the books. Also, one cannot ignore the success of the Lord of the Rings films.
Fantasy books are also shown to boost creativity. In Psychology Today, a study on the effects of reading fiction found, that reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function. Fantasy literature has become more character focused in recent years, so reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ can actually improve brain connectivity. The result is enhanced creativity. In my opinion, the best reason to read fantasy is that it is fun to read. Reading fantasy fiction involves creating movies in our minds; freeing the imagination.
But it is worth asking, does the popularity of TV shows, like Game of Thrones, mean that fantasy is now not just a genre that nerds read? Fantasy books do tend to be on the large size, so for casual readers, fantasy books can be intimidating. On the other hand, the different directions that modern fantasy is taking does make the genre more accessible. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, is an easy to read fantasy series. The setting is a school, an environment familiar to most people.
Adult fantasy books have been published more recently, which proves that fantasy is no longer only for children. Fantasy is a medium, where broad themes like death, betrayal, war, relationships, and morality, can be explored creatively. Nerd culture should not be exclusionary; fantasy is for everyone to enjoy.
Fantasy is more visible in popular culture, but many people are still not reading fantasy books. The stigma attached to genre fiction is still a barrier to fantasy being considered good literature. However, fantasy is mostly a label for fiction that has fantastical elements. A fantasy novel can also be a science fiction novel or even horror. Fantasy is popular at the moment, but for more reasons than an obsession with magic and dragons.
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