Lessons from Science Fiction Novels and The Benefits of Buying Used Books
Science fiction and fantasy may be out of this world (literally!), but they have a lot to teach us if we’re willing to listen. In fact, many people have argued that science fiction tends to operate as a cautionary genre. Here are lessons from reading science fiction and the benefits of buying used books.
Lessons from science fiction novels
Human Imagination Knows No Bounds
If you are someone who likes escapist reads—you want your books to ferry you to far-off places or times. Sometimes that means a post-apocalyptic or dystopian future, sometimes it’s a spaceship circling a black hole, or maybe it’s a fantastical kingdom not of this world at all.
One of the top reasons we enjoy reading science fiction so much is the imaginative settings. The best books in these genres are the ones with such immersive, well-fleshed-out world building that you forget the place you’re reading about doesn’t actually exist. Middle Earth, Westeros, The Republic of Gilead, OASIS… every amazing place you read in a SFF book was created by a human with a dream.
Fight like hell for your civil liberties
One of the most common tropes in science fiction is the tyrannical government that surveils the crap out of the populous in order to maintain power. And you can’t talk about a surveillance state without talking about George Orwell’s 1984. I mean, it’s the book that gave us Big Brother (and I’m not talking about the reality TV show). If you take only one lesson away from 1984 it’s going to be something along the lines of: don’t give up your civil liberties, especially where government surveillance is concerned. Orwell’s point was far more sophisticated, of course, touching on everything from independent thought to censorship (and more). 1984 had so much to say that countless works of sci-fi and fantasy have engaged with what we now refer to as these “Orwellian” elements. Regardless, the message (echoed in countless other works) about surveillance is clear: surrender your civil liberties and you surrender your freedom.
Be Brave When All Hope Seems Lost
Especially in these dark and frighteningly uncertain times, looking to main characters of SFF novels can give us the courage to press on and fight for what’s right. Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, these characters react in dozens of different ways—giving us emotions to which we can relate. Then they remember the reason they’re fighting, pick themselves up from despair, and march on, which is exactly the message we need now.
Power corrupts… Big time
So much of science fiction and fantasy is concerned with power imbalances: totalitarian regimes, wealth gaps, science gone wild — you get the picture. (Warning: plot spoilers ahead.) But Naomi Alderman’s novel The Power is a powerful portrayal of the idea that power corrupts. What begins as an exhilarating (for this reader) premise that sees oppressed women across the globe shed their fear of sexual violence — from domestic abuse to murder — ends in a flipped-script kind of reality. In The Power, instead of a more egalitarian (or at least less imbalanced) world we get the same power dynamics with different perpetrators. As Sophie Gilbert points out: “The abuse of power is integral to society, Alderman argues, no matter who’s wielding it.” This is the lesson from SFF, then: power corrupts, and somebody is always in power.
Magic is Real
Maybe not in the traditional sense; maybe the magic of Fae or witches isn’t in our world, but the magic system isn’t what’s enchanting. What’s enchanting are the words woven in these stories and the feelings they evoke. Books are magic in their power to bring people together. Books are magic by stringing letters, words, and sentences together to make our hearts ache or swell. Books are magic because in them, we find ourselves; we find hope; we find inspiration; we find family within the inky pages. Make no mistake—a world with books is a world full of magic.
Progress Isn’t (Always) What We Envision
Dystopian (and more broadly, speculative) fiction is a notorious harbinger for this lesson. The best of these books deal with the fallout of what happens after the “change” has been achieved.
One example is Mockingjay, the third book of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy. Though it’s rated as the least-liked of the series (according to Goodreads reviews), I think the ideas and darkness of its messages are the best of the trilogy. Katniss has grown from a slight, starving teen only focused on saving her sister to a fierce, capable young woman fighting for the very lives of all those in her broken country of Panem. The losses and sacrifices she endures at every turn later bring about a better world, devoid of teens fighting to the death and starving citizens.
You Are Not Alone
Maybe this isn’t specific to SFF literature, but the beauty of books is the fact you are never alone. Not in the world, not in your feelings—never. The #bookstagram community is a wide and diverse place with book lovers abound. Personally, I’ve built several enduring friendships by connecting over a book I loved with a stranger.
The new method to read is through used books. Buying used books is a cheap, entertaining, and environmentally friendly method to buy books, whether for practical reasons or personal pleasure. The NEW method to read is through used books. When it comes to purchasing books, we virtually always choose used books for both practical and personal reasons. It's a less expensive, more enjoyable, and more environmentally friendly way to purchase books. Here are the main advantages of buying used books without further ado!
Benefits of Buying Used Books
Buying used books is less expensive!
Why spend $30 on a new hardcover book that you'll only read once and then use as a paperweight? A used book store or a yard sale are likely to have the same novel for a considerably lower price. Because used books aren't always in mint condition, retailers discount them significantly. You may get used books for as little as a $1 in some situations!
If you're serious about getting the greatest deals on used books, we’d even suggest respectfully bartering with the proprietors to get a better deal. If you're buying several used books, you might be able to save money by bundling them. Overall, if you're the type of reader who devours novels in a hurry, buying used books can save you a lot of money.
Buying used books is a way to show your support for small businesses in your community.
Second hand bookstores, which are typically tiny and local, are one of the greatest places to buy second hand books online. Buying used books rather than new books from big-box stores might help you support your neighborhood and connect with local bookshop owners and fellow readers. Second hand stores frequently host events such as author Q&As or weekly book groups. One used book can thus introduce you to an entire universe of other enthusiastic readers.
It gives used books a new lease of life.
There's virtually nothing worse to me than finishing a book and then letting it accumulate dust on the shelf for a few years. Thousands of perfectly decent used books are buried in attics and basements all around the world, according to us. Books are worth more, and buying second hand books encourages a culture of giving back. When you buy second hand, you are confirming that there is a market for this type of product and assisting stores who promote these ideas in remaining in business.
Consider giving back if you are the type of person who frequently purchases gently used books. One of the finest sensations in the world is donating books. Giving the gift of reading to someone who might not otherwise be able to afford it can be really satisfying. Even exchanging the book you just finished for a different used book can help to ensure that all books have a second opportunity and a life beyond the bookshelf.
The "Old-School" Charm of Used Books
Give us the musty, shredded pages instead of that new book fragrance. To be honest, we’ve grown to appreciate the underlined sentences and dog-eared pages that past readers have left behind. It makes us ponder about the old used book's former existence and provides us with a unique insight into what passages stood out to the reader before us. Of course, you must be aware of the mysterious stains and sticky pages that can be found throughout, but that's half the fun!
Roulette Reading courtesy of used books
You never know what you'll find when you walk into a new bookstore. Even if you specifically request a book, there's no assurance it will be available; yet, you may end up with something better. When we go to a second hand books online or physical shop, we always attempt to get one book that we’ve heard of and one that we’ve never heard of before. Because we shop used, we occasionally uncover an author or book we would not have discovered otherwise. The nicest part is that used books are so inexpensive that it's not the end of the world if you don't like what you choose. You should be able to return to the store and exchange it for another book. Even in the worst-case situation, you've just lost a few dollars.