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Get Unreal! Valuable Things Learned From Fictional Characters

When looking for direction or role models in our day-to-day life, sometimes you have to stop searching within your own world and turn the page ... literally. Some of the most instructive people you will meet are found within the covers of your favorite books.

The basics are never out of fashion

Times change, society changes ... but the central life lessons we learn as children are timeless and span generations. Maybe that's why the innocent, early reading lessons of the Dick and Jane books keep coming back into vogue. Life gets complicated enough as you get older, but this charming duo shows kids that some of the simplest things to learn are also the most important.

Animals are people too!

We transfer a lot of our feelings to our pets, and authors use a similar technique to show us aspects of life that are perhaps best conveyed by characters with four legs and a tail. Whether it's a timeless tale for young people like E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, or a dark political allegory like George Orwell's Animal Farm, great stories about animals often let us see a fuller picture of humanity. And who knows? Maybe as you're reading one of these critter-based narratives, your own animal friend will curl up beside you, waiting to be read aloud to.

Sometimes we all need an escape

"Escapism" and "entertainment" are often used as criticisms of reading material that is considered lightweight or trivial. But what's trivial about letting your imagination soar and leaving the daily grind behind? Escapism is relaxing, restorative and - as history has proven - the main attraction behind some of the greatest works of literature (along with some of the trashiest!) Life is full of obligations, from your career to grappling with your limited bedroom storage. So whether you're a young reader discovering C.S. Lewis' extraordinary world of Narnia for the first time, or an adult indulging in the more restricted fantasies of Fifty Shades of Grey, there's no need to feel guilty about taking a break from the real world.

Life isn't so scary after all

Fretting over the latest dire global headlines? Maybe you're just stressed out over the price of some much-needed home accessories? Well, take a deep breath and take comfort in the fact that the world we live in isn't as terrifying as those created by the great horror authors. Your last party was a bust? Bet it turned out better than Prince Prospero's costume ball in Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death. Got stuck in a terrible hotel on your most recent vacation? At least it wasn't the haunted Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining. Having trouble with your kids? Probably not as much as the mother of the possessed girl in William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. So open a book on the "fright side" to always look on the bright side of life.

Simplify and enjoy life more

We live in a time of dizzying technological advances. Modern miracles occur so quickly that we take them for granted. Yet, for all the conveniences a world of ever-changing gadgetry brings, it can also overwhelm us. Living in a state of constant communication, feeling the need to update our "status" with every move, can lead to techno overload. Well, don't be afraid to break away from your devices, the latest apps, or the buzz of the Twitterverse, at least for a little while. You'll be surprised how well you can function without being tied to the grid. Consider Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Lord of the Jungle" is intelligent, resourceful, and at one point in his many literary adventures, he even returns to civilization and learns he comes from a family of nobility. Ah, but our hero finds the modern world isn't all it's cracked up to be, ultimately returning to his jungle home. Sometimes all you need is a tree house and a good vine to swing from.

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To be sure, you cross paths with essential role models and mentors in your own life every day. But don't neglect some of the wisdom to be shared by people who only exist on the printed page. Need to stock up on some new books? Lakeside has something to capture the interest of any reader.