June 17, 2013
Reading books allows for a specific experience not accessible through other mediums. This is not to say that reading is necessarily better than watching movies or television – I love a good film as much as the next person. However, at the adult level, most books are not the sort that you finish in one sitting. The reader takes small doses of the book over a long period of time. The only other medium that I can think of that has anything close to this feeling is a television series. However, at the same time, I don’t feel that it’s quite the same; oftentimes, the episodes consist of encapsulated stories within a larger context, so the viewer still has a sense of completion at the end of one viewing. With a book, there is no sense of completion or satisfaction until the end.
I once had a discussion with a coworker about how that means that the reader spends a longer time with the characters, and how that tends to make them more real. However, I feel that it goes beyond just getting to know fictional people. When reading a book, the reader carries that ongoing experience with them. These books hold a presence in the reader’s life. They think about the characters and what is going on in their lives. Sometimes, they see something that reminds them of something that happened in a book, or sometimes, they even start to unconsciously replicate things from the book, like speech patterns.
If we reflect on the material that we spend time reading, then what does that say about the kinds of books that we should be reading? It would be easy to assume that this means there should only be happy, peace-to-the-world stories in our literary diet. However, I think that it’s more complicated than that. The books have to be written on subjects that we enjoy for them to seep into our consciousness; we reject the ones that we don’t like. With this in mind, I think that the fact is that we simply have to read. It doesn’t matter what. Reading opens up our minds to thinking about situation in more creative fashions, and this creativity is vital in daily life. Creative thinking makes for better problem solving, and life certainly has its fair share of complexities.
Oak Grove Branch