I’d like to think so. Well, not really. I haven’t lost control of all my faculties just yet. But if you’re as obsessed with reading fiction as I am, have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to become so invested in these stories and their characters despite knowing that it isn’t all real?
A few weeks ago, I read a book called All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven; and I ugly cried for half an hour after reading it. There I sat mourning a fictional suicide (whoops, spoiler alert), wondering what on earth was wrong with me because the character wasn’t a real person! That, my friends, is the power of literature.
Whether you enjoy the increasingly popular fantasy genre, the humorously witty chick-lit, the unrivalled, twisted brilliance of Stephen King and Dean Koontz or the immortalised classics, you have to admit that reading is the most limitless, cost effective adventure that you can experience.
Someone once told me that I spend too much time reading books rather than actually living. I pity that person. Not because I believe that books are better than reality; I am a rational individual, but because the person who said this was so ignorant to the art of literature. You cannot compare reality and literature. That would be like comparing Audrey ll from The Little Shop of Horrors, to my batty old neighbour. Sure they might look the same but they’re both a different species.
Anyway, the reason I love reading so much is because I don’t handle life so well some days and I think a lot of us have this problem, and so we try to find escapism in whatever we can. I find solace between the pages of books when I need to get away from myself. It’s so easy to be transported to another place just by reading a page or few without realising that the book that you’ve dived into was once merely just a seed in the author’s imagination. If that doesn’t leave you in awe of the power of the human mind then I don’t know what will. Authors are special beings. They create. They design limitless possibilities all with the power of words. I like to believe that every author puts a semblance of themselves into their stories and characters, consciously or not. And any form of art that makes you feel something is definitely worth appreciating.
Now, I’m not saying that every book is good. Some are just…hilariously bad (-cough- Fifty Shades -cough sneeze aneurysm-) but if a writer can create a world with characters that you can relate to and identify with on some level, is that not a small fraction of reality?
I’m 25 years old, and I still want to believe that if I ever walk the streets of London again and I stumble into a darkened alley, then I might just find myself in Olivander’s Wand Shop (Harry Potter fans will know).
One of my favourite places in my city is the huge Municipal Library. There’s almost a sacred sense of peace there. I love the smell of the books and the pleasant quietness. It’s a place that holds so much knowledge and creativity, so many universes, so many adventures. If given the opportunity, I’d camp between the shelves and read every book in there until I travelled to every city, learnt about every historical milestone, experienced every culture, fictional or real, or until someone finds me and has me escorted out by security. ‘Novel’ idea, don’t you think?