Last week, I went to a Wordup gathering and got into a conversation about books, and fantasy in general. Someone asked this question: Why do I like fantasy so much?
The answer is simple. Fantasy allows you to expand your imagination to worlds that are not your own. It encourages you to use your imagination; to form your own ideas and opinions about a certain thing, character or place that does not exist.
Take the Lord of The Rings, for example. Tolkien had his own ideas and visions of how his world would look like. However, his readers would each form their own ideas of what the world, people and the monsters would look like. In fact, before the movies came out, there was no one definite 'look' for a hobbit. Some artists envisioned hobbits as short, fat and ugly, while others made them out to be as cute as bunnies. Certainly no one ever imagined Frodo to look like Elijah Wood!
That is why I get upset with people who tell me they watched the LOTR movies but never read the books. Because they are not using their own imagination to form their own ideas about Tolkien's world, merely taking for granted that what Peter Jackson has in the movie is what LOTR looks like.
But I digress. That LOTR gripe is for another day. Let's get back to why I prefer reading fantasy to other forms of fiction.
Like I said, fantasy allows you to use your imagination. Usual fiction novels set in the real world use settings and locations and things that are familiar to us, so the imagination is never utilised to visualise what a place looks like. A character jumps on a tank. We ALL know what a tank looks like, so we don't NEED to imagine how it looks like. But in a fantasy novel, when a character jumps on an Oliphaunt or a Hippogriff, the reader would have to imagine what it looks like based on how the writer describes the item/object/creature.
Also, the stories in fantasy novels, while rather far-fetched and maybe a little predictable in some cases, are still a lot more original than anything Sheldon or Grisham has come up with. Granted, there may be some general fiction books that ARE pretty original themselves, but I still prefer a story that doesn't resemble the real world too much.
You could say that I prefer fantasy books because it gives me another world to disappear into, and escape the real one we live in. And to tell the truth, I'd take dragons and ents over Kancil-clogged roads and silly US presidents anytime.