Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why I still read books

It seems that every time I talk to someone about a story, they ask, "did you see that movie?" Because nearly every good book is turned into a movie sooner or later. I get it - books aren't for everyone. Who wants to sit down and read for a week when you can get the synopsis in two hours while also updating your Facebook status and checking out Kim Kardashian's latest bikini Instagrams? We live in a world of instant gratification, and books have not adapted to it.

But for me, even though I know the movie is just a Netflix click away, I still reach for the book. Why? I could write about this forever, but let me sum it up in a nutshell: imagination. When you read, you visualize the scenes and people with your imagination. The author sets up the idea for you, and your mind does the rest. In the movie adaption, you see the producer's version of the story. You see his imagination's interpretation with the actor choices, the sets, the way they speak. The story is speaking to him and then to you, rather than you interpreting it yourself.

The beauty of books is that the same story can mean something to different to everyone who reads it. I read the same two books every year and each time I notice something else, discover an adage I hadn't before. Movie characters often lose the dimensions and layers you get from a book character. You don't hear their thoughts and identify with them in your own way because they have been canned for you. They are instant soup. They are not a stew that has been simmering all day, the flavors mixing together and your home smelling better because of it.

This is not just about books anymore. Often times we select convenience over quality because of time. We have only so much time, and we don't want to spend it on something we don't see the value in. But often we never learn of something's value because we're not willing to invest our time. This world is pushing us away from what we used to value. Why call someone when you can text them? Why visit someone when you can Skype? Why make a homemade quilt when you can just buy one? Why do experiences even matter? Isn't it just the end result that we're really after?

So in not so much of a nutshell, that is why I read books. The experience I get from reading a book - the interpreting it myself - that is what I love so much about stories. We all see the world through our own glasses. Stories show us another perspective. And by reading it through our own glasses we can see the proximity of other perspectives. The world has not yet become so automatized that we have lost touch with each other completely. Or at least, I choose to believe that because I'm old-fashioned and still read books.

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