It has always fascinated me when I come across people who tell me they categorically don’t read at all. Everyone is different, of course but I have always wondered what the hook is for those of us who read religiously and those whose only experience with literature is the cooking instructions on the back of a packet of super noodles.
So what is it about books which drives some of us wild but incites nothing more than an inward groan from the rest? I have a few theories myself but obviously most of these come from my own thoughts and experiences.
Could it be that we enjoy the escape? Have you ever wanted to run away from yourself? Leave your mind and all those muddled thoughts behind and just be someone else for a while? I know I have. Sometimes, the temptation to delve in to someone else’s life for a little while and leave the chaos of our own brain behind is intoxicating. Growing up, any time I was bogged down by the cacophony that were my own thoughts just became overwhelming. Delving in to the story of someone else was a bit of relief and prevented me from going insane. Nowadays, I still often feel that need to forget myself for a short time when life becomes too much. I can live out my own dreams by choosing a book which follows a journey I would have loved to have taken. Countries I wish I could visit are painted flawlessly for me through the words of others. Sometimes we can even pretend that we are the people who we always wanted to be by just absorbing ourselves in a few chapters.
I love it when I am reading a book and the author can eloquently articulate all those things that I am feeling but was struggling to put in to words. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green helped me to remember positivity at a time when it was easy to forget all my blessings. The struggle to remain hopeful when the world seems to be against you is a battle that is never easily won.
‘Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts’ by Lucy Dillon was a book which reinforced my belief in finding love when it seemed like an impossible feat. Everybody wants someone who understands them and refuses to give up on them even when you have given up on yourself. Sometimes, reading a book which addresses this concept can you help you to understand yourself more and what it is you need when it comes to matters of the heart.
Occasionally, I read to find myself. When everything around me is in disarray and I have lost my direction and purpose, reading can give you meaning. Something to cling to and a reason to keep going. Another chapter waiting to be read, a question that needs to be answered by the last page, a need to see a character whom you have grown to love, find their meaning and allow us to envision all the wonderful things they will go on to do after that last word. Even when our own future seems uncertain.
Books to me are like oxygen. Without them, the reality of the world can be too bleak and formidable to face alone. I have, many times, put a book down when I am close to the end, just to prolong the journey a little more and keep that final goodbye at bay.
And finally, maybe, just maybe…what you haven’t found in life, you are able to find within the covers of the next journey you choose to embark upon.