A/N: This is another comedy piece for class.
You are of course, entitled to your own opinion about whether books are a waste of time or not. It is good to have a world full of diverse opinions. Like getting rid of monopolies, differing opinions can change our world for the better, and, after all, a little debate never hurt anyone. But your opinion is wrong. We all agree it's wrong. To illustrate why reading is not the boring, wasteful, soul-sucking thing you think it is, allow me to tell you a little story.
In a hole in the ground there lived a bibliophobe. A nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with ends of worms and nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a bibliophobe-hole, and that means no books. These illiterate aliens live woefully unhappy lives with no friends to confide in and no imagination to entertain them. These creatures are fundamentally unable to endure the imminent zombie apocalypse, bored to insanity as they try to wait it out in their holes. Conversely, all the bookworms will be cozy in a high-tech shelter with their Earl Grey tea, their blueberry scones, and their bloodthirsty swords. The readers are the dominant race on this planet; after all Hermione's love of books was what kept Harry alive to defeat Voldemort.
Besides, who are you to say that reading is a waste of time? Do you think yourself above the Greeks who invented democracy, spread literacy, and utterly disregarded celibacy? They would consider you a blahbarian and boil you alive in a brass bull. You may think sticks and stones are the only things that will break your bones, but the weight of Lord of the Rings alone could crack your skull.
Moreover, if you do not read, there are terrible side effects. You will never be permitted to cross through the wardrobe into paradise, or escape the Eye of your Boss, who is obviously a dark wizard. If you read books, you would know the signs. He has a terrifyingly long beard, he carries a walking staff but does not lean on it, and every Monday you walk by to see his office engulfed in swirling flames and hear sinister laughter coming from within. That freak with pimples down in IT is the only one who can truly defeat him with his Defence Against the Dark Arts degree from Hogwarts. But if you had simply picked up a book once in a while, you could've thrown up a spell to defend against the Curse of the Looming Deadline.
Oh, I see, you were unaware that there were adult books. You grew up with Cat in the Hat but never once thought that maybe Pocahontas 4: The Walking War might need to be labeled YA. The story of the Trail of Tears is not for children but it must be told anyway. We needed life lessons when we were young, now we need them even more when we are older and have reached our mid-life crisis. Just as most adults cannot remember high school calculus, they cannot remember the lessons we learned in our childhood, so they now require a golden compass to point to what's right and demonstrate the dangers of pride and prejudice in our lives. The stories reteach adults the lessons of respect for nature, the importance of family, and how to make a warm baby blanket from the wild buffalo.
Even fantasy books can offer adults an escape. Everyone needs a break sometimes. Books offer instant relief from the mundane, harsh world we live in with its famine, plagues, and inactive governments by transporting us to seventeenth century London, an island in the great archipelago, or to a drug covered planet with giant worms that try to eat you alive. Sometimes only an alternate reality within our own time is sufficient, though I personally cannot fathom why you would choose emo vampires who sparkle over Mr. "All-that-is-gold-does-not-glitter" Aragorn.
Of course, it is your own personal choice to live out a magical life of augmented reality or to doom yourself to a life of cubicles, deadlines, and helping your elderly mother-in-law bathe. I will be busy in my own slice of heaven. As a wise author once wrote, "One must always be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us." A day may come when my love of reading fails, but it is NOT THIS DAY!
My actual rant:
So you say books are bad. Fantasy is a waste of time. Sit down, and shut up right this instant. Books are what has kept civilization thriving and full of life. It has allowed us to spread ideas from ancient Greece to the modern scholars of today. And fantasy is by far the most important exercise of creativity our minds have access to which doesn't even include how it can help you cope with the struggles of the real world.
First of all, there is no reason to say books are bad. You are beginning by making a general assumption that all books being read here are fiction I presume because otherwise you would be failing to include the many scholarly publications that document important scientific findings that change our daily life. Important breakthroughs in medicine to heal the sick and make health care more affordable. New weapons research to win our wars with the least collateral damage. And records of rational debate and hypothesis that help us to learn more about ourselves as human. I'm sure you are not forgetting these very crucial books that are clearly very, very bad.
No, your argument was all about fiction. Again you are wrong here. Many fiction works exist to serve a moral lesson. Fairytales that our read to us as kids instil in us moral values about our society. Gluttony is a sin, we all learned this from the tale of Hansel and Gretel. Cinderella taught us that hard work and simple kindness will do more for you than trying to elevate yourself by putting others down. And Pocahontas taught us to respect the nature around us. These are important lessons that are best understood with stories that stick with us throughout our lives.
What's that I hear you say? But that's okay for children? Sure, they are important when you are a kid, but what could be a better reminder, we all know those poorly photoshoppped posters on the walls of math classes don't do us any good. Even though we may be grownups, we still need reminding of this basic truths as the world around us becomes even more morally ambiguous and difficult to discern what is good and what is evil.
But still we have not reached the crux of your argument. Fantasy books. For what morals could these fantastical stories about other worlds and dragons and warlocks possibly provide us? More than you might think. In this case it is not necessarily about the morals that they teach us, but the life skills. People are more likely to turn to these epic fantasy novels if they feel estranged and out of place in the real world. They may have a hard life or are facing many difficulties. For them, reading and engaging in a fantasy world so different from their own lives, it gives them a chance to escape from the problems they face in real life. Sometimes a break is all we need to let our minds clear and be able to deal with the situation more rationally. And importantly, many of these fantasy stories can be subconsciously seen as extended metaphors for problems in real life. An evil sorcerer can be made to represent a bully at school and maybe a fearsome tale about a dragon torching the village could be symbolic of someone's life going up in flames if their parents were just killed. In both cases, the way that the protagonist triumphs over the evil is often inspiration that though it seems dark and hopeless, there will be a light on the other side. It may even provide a way for the reader to deal with the pain they are experiencing and fight the situation.
While some people do read for the pure fantastical fun of enjoying a good story, an activity that dates back to the beginning of civilization when men would tell exaggerated tales of their successful hunt, there are many more who read because they need it. There is nothing bad in using a book to allow you to escape from your problems and temporarily live in a world where everything has a happy ending, for the most part. There is a gift in being able to reconsider our own world in a new light and maybe be able to transfer some of the values form that idyllic planet back into our own world.