I like to read. Truth be told, reading to me is like taking a mini-vacation. I immerse myself in the stories being told and vicariously live the lives of the characters. I can picture their faces, their stature, their posture. I can picture their expressions and their actions. All of this I can see through the power of the words written on the pages. As I sit in my reading chair, and sip my latte, I flip page after page, voraciously consuming the unfolding drama. For those of you who prefer to watch movies over reading books, let me describe to you the euphoric feeling you can get while burying yourself in a good novel.
I was one of 4 children in our humble family abode. Being of European descent, our house was always boisterous and loud; very loud. There was only one television set in the house. Trying to find a program that everyone agreed upon was a challenge. If my father was home then you could forget about any kid show or fantasy show. We were lucky on Sunday afternoons because we could watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, but other than that, my father commandeered the tv and watched the news, or some war movie or…yawn…documentary. It was at this time that books entered into my entertainment sphere and my world changed forever.
It was my sister who introduced me to my first novel. She was working at the local library. One day I was in the children’s section looking through the “baby” books as she called them. My sister came over and handed me a large hard cover book and said, “You’re old enough now. Read this.” The book was The Little Witch. At first I was intimidated. There were 128 pages! It would take me FOREVER to read this. I sat down on the bean bag seat in the reading circle (I was in the kid’s section after all) and I began to read, “Chapter 1.” It was the beginning of a new life for me.
This book introduced me to many new words. It introduced me to other people (though make believe) who were like me and felt things the same way I felt them. I had someone that I could identify with. There were mean people and nice people, just like in real life. Once I finished reading that book I knew I could read others. I moved on to mystery books. I loved the twisted plots. I enjoyed trying to figure out “who done it” and congratulated myself if I had guessed correctly. Even if I read a book that I didn’t like, it taught me the types of stories I preferred. My vocabulary increased exponentially. I even started writing my own stories. I would bring them to school and have my teacher mark them. (Yeah, did I mention I was the lonely brainer child in school?) I even asked my grade 4 teacher if I could write a play and have it preformed for the class. She said yes. My classroom play was a success and I made friends because classmates wanted to be part of the show. Using me? Maybe…but at least my circle of “friends” grew from the solo me of daily life. All of this because of reading.
I continued to read all types of books: fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, Pulitzer Prize winners, old English, modern English, translated books. People who became my friends would tell me how they thought I was a snob because I would sit in a room full of people and just read. The noise never bothered me. Growing up in a loud family home I learned to block all noise by immersing myself in my books and stories. That was the ultimate escape. It still is.
Reading is my way of taking a break from my daily life. When I read, I live the life of the characters. Sometimes reading about other people’s problems makes your own problems seem so insignificant. Solving mystery novels gets your brain working trying to figure out the ending. My imagination goes wild picturing all these things in my head. It’s like my brain has become a movie screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love movies and tv shows, but there is something about words and how, depending on how they are put together, you can see everything so clearly. The stories being told can introduce you to things you yourself have never experienced. It provides knowledge without you having to live through it. It lets you be someone else without ever having to leave your own body. How incredible is that?
Reading blogs and magazines, those short snippets of entertainment, are enjoyable in their own way, but grasping a book and flipping those pages (old school style), let’s you immerse yourself in an alternate life. A good book will leave you wanting to flip to the next page. It will leave you anxious and restless as you try to figure out how it will end. A good book leads you into that other universe where you wander around trying to find the grand finale where you walk off into the sunset. You wander along picking up information and storing it for later. It might be needed. You keep going and going, flipping pages, absorbing the thoughts and words, and when you get to the end you are sated. The story is done. You are euphoric if the writer was talented enough to give you a satisfying ending. If not, you are still happy because you did it. You finished it. You close the book, lean back, close your eyes and replay the images and storylines. No channel surfing necessary. No need to connect to WiFi. It’s all there for you to recall whenever you want.
Seek out a good page turner and escape your daily life for awhile. Take a turn from the ordinary and enter the theatre of the mind.