Why are words so wonderful? Especially words on a page? We at bella all love a good book, but what is it about books that capture our imagination? The setting? The story? The characters?
Well, according to a study done at Emory University, USA, neuroscience might be able to help us with the answer.
Studies show reading is good for us. Reading improves brain function, our ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes and, of course, it engages our imagination. It’s a great alternative to TV and gets us ‘outside ourselves’ to experience worlds we would otherwise never know.
But reading may do something more, something quite incredible
According to Emory University, it appears that, as we read, our mind tricks itself into thinking the events unfolding on the page – the thrilling car chase, the magical sword fight, the carriage ride at sunset – are actually happening. So, at least in our mind, we become the characters ourselves.
We become Frodo Baggins, traversing Middle-Earth to destroy the One Ring, we become Lucy Pevensie, stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, we become Katniss Everdeen, stretching up our hand to volunteer… and the friends and enemies they encounter along the way become ours too.
How thrilling! And while more studies need to be done to delve deeper into how this all works, we’d like to offer you some book reviews, where we can give our tips on some quality reads – because after all, who doesn’t love a good adventure, and it seems those on the page are more real to us than we have ever realised!
Brooke’s Top Five Fantasties
The Lord of the Rings
By J.R.R. Tolkien
You can’t have a list of the best fantasy stories without a mention of The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece brought the genre back from the brink of despair and breathed new life into it through his incredibly detailed and vivid world. While The Lord of the Rings was published as three separate books, Tolkien originally wrote it as one, so that’s how it’s counted here. Telling the tale of the hobbit Frodo Baggins, the book follows him from one end of Middle-earth to the other, as he and a band of followers work to destroy the magic ring that, if in the wrong hands, could lead to the destruction of Middle-earth. The Lord of the Rings has captured audiences for more than fifty years, so if you’ve got plenty of spare time and a love of detailed writing, this is for you!
The Wolf of Tebron
By C.S. Lakin
The Gates of Heaven Series
The Wolf of Tebron is the first book in The Gates of Heaven series. A whimsical tale for young and old alike, it tells the tale of Joran, a blacksmith and animal-whisperer whose wife is suddenly whisked away in a flurry of magic and imprisoned by the Moon. On his journey to save her, Joran encounters Ruyah, a wolf with a penchant for clever quotes, and a hyperactive bird named Bryp. Throughout the tale Joran is forced to confront his anger, doubt and despair, making this an adventure within and without. If you’re up for an easy read and a bit of adventure, give The Wolf of Tebron a go!
By Stephen Lawhead
The Pendragon Cycle Series
A challenging read, but a rewarding one. Book One in The Pendragon Cycle, Taliesin is fantasy, adventure and romance, combining the legend of Atlantis, the tale of King Arthur and the sketchy history of the real bard (fancy poet) Taliesin to craft a tale steeped in mystery and wonder. Lawhead is a masterful storyteller in the vein of Tolkien, and his description of Atlantis’ destruction gives me shivers every time. The story follows the two people destined to become the parents of the legendary Merlin – the enigmatic Taliesin and Charis, an Atlantean warrior-princess. Taliesin isn’t for everyone, but if you like delving deep into an ancient world, it may just sweep you away!
The Ruins of Gorlan
By John Flanagan
The Ranger’s Apprentice Series
This story follows the adventures of Will, a 15-year-old orphan from the medieval kingdom of Araluen. Apprenticed to the uncanny and frightening Ranger Halt, Will learns how to be the medieval version of a policeman crossed with a spy, as in the south the disgraced Baron Morgarath schemes to take over the kingdom. The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in the award-winning, best-selling The Ranger’s Apprentice series. An easy, fun-read, these books capture the imagination and transport us far away, to a land somewhat familiar but utterly enchanting.
The Silver Chair
By C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia Series
C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia have been loved for decades and, for me, one of the best of the series is The Silver Chair. Following two children, Jill and Eustace, and the ever-gloomy Marsh-wiggle Puddleglum, on their quest to save the lost Prince Rilian, the book traverses mountains, marshes and caverns deep beneath the foundations of the earth, and shows us a side of Narnia never seen before. From a parliament of owls to the castle of Harfang, it’s a quick and delightful foray into a delicious world of fantasy!
So there you have it - if you love tales of ancient lore, set in fabled lands and just a hint of magic, these books may be for you!
By Brooke Duncan
Photography by Koro Designs